Why Make a Living You Don’t Love?

Almost there…?

“Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Must be nice, right? It’s the golden ideal of contentment and happiness that we all strive for (or at least talk about striving for…), and yet so few of us seem to achieve it. It’s such an elusive goal, in fact, that most of those who do get there — who make a career out of their passion — are often noted as having ‘unusual’ or, at best, ‘nontraditional’ careers. The rhetoric itself is telling.

Whether you define yourself by your work or not, the way in which you make your living (read: money) is a critical part of your life. So it’s no wonder we want our jobs to be fulfilling, to ignite that inner fire of our souls. But how do we get there? It’s a daunting, if not paralyzing question; one often seeming too big to tackle. And so we shrug, return to the status quo, and drip-feed our 401k while we keep an eye on that retirement horizon — that’s when we’ll have our fun.

“I can’t help but realize that I still don’t know “what I want to do,” nor have I moved any closer to that golden ideal.”

Like many of us, I think a lot about my career path. Since college, so much effort has been put into trying to a) figure out where I want to get, and b) figure out how to get there. I’ve been fortunate to stumble into an industry that I enjoy, and in which I’ve been able to have some success. But as I near the close of my first professional decade, I can’t help but realize that I still don’t know “what I want to do,” nor have I moved any closer to that golden ideal.

And so the daily grind we all meme-ify incessantly and spew the same clichés about before submitting to began to seem increasingly unbearable. Suddenly the idea of plodding along my existing path became a terrifying one. My finite success to date overshadowed by the idea of a drab and ho-hum future for my career. This can’t be the only way…right?

“How can I financially support the life I want while actually living the life I want?…I’ve set off to better understand this question.”

I began listening to that little voice inside — you know the one. The one that doesn’t lie and that you can’t hide from. The one we often try and ignore because it’s inconvenient (and won’t help us pay rent). The one that wants you to be happy. Mine kept me focused on this all-too-common conundrum:

How can I balance these two seemingly polarizing goals? How can I financially support the life I want while actually living the life I want?

And so I’ve set off in search of this answer. Or, perhaps more accurately, I’ve set off to better understand this question.

This is my goal. To chart a path toward making a living I love. Not in any determinate timeframe, but rather to know that my next step — and all my future steps — will be made with intention and confidence that they will lead me in a direction in which I want to be headed.

I’m going all in. I’ve left the company I’ve called home for the past six years, the stability of an upward-trajectory career path (and accompanying regular paycheck), and the ‘traditional’ world to dedicate myself to this pursuit. I see it as an investment in my future: I am investing in a better understanding of my passions, motivations, objectives, and self.

My one guiding principle? When in doubt, focus on the thing I want to do most. After all, if you want your life (and, ultimately, your career) to be centered around the things you care most about, it seems only logical to start by focusing on those very priorities.

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I am going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Already the journey has been exciting and the rewards immense. As I continue to learn and shape my perspective on the world and my path through it, I’m encountering endless sources of inspiration: from individuals who have built empires around their passions to those just rediscovering theirs; people who have taken great leaps without knowing where they’ll land, and those who have successfully landed (often dozens of times).

Thus far one thing is abundantly clear: not knowing where you’ll get to is a shitty reason not to get moving.

Rosalia de Castro once wrote, “I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I am going is what inspires me to travel it.”

Amen, sister.

Onward…

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