Do what you love, love what you do.
On achieving passion and loving work
Every single day, I’m both disappointed and depressed by the staggering number of anecdotes I hear, read, and see about people hating their jobs.
Just today, I saw an article stating that 65% of Canadians want to leave their current employer.
Are you kidding me? Two-thirds of my home country’s working population is dissatisfied with where they work every single day of their working lives?
If you don’t like your situation, you’ve got to act on it to make change happen. Don’t just think about the possibility and dwell on it — if you want a change in your life, you have to be willing to go out and make it happen.
I have so many friends who work jobs that they hate, or are at companies that they have literally no interest in.
“Eh, it it pays the bills.”
Life is too short to do mediocre work and it is definitely too short to spend our time doing things we don’t enjoy.
Work is how things get done and how progress is made — it’s how things move forward. But, most people don’t like work.
Work is a fundamentally broken process.
Think about it — people don’t enjoy the process by which they can make their mark on the world.
Isn’t that sad?
And more importantly, shouldn’t we want to change that?
Why on earth should we be content with being ‘stuck’ doing something we don’t even like, at a place we don’t even enjoy spending so much of our time?
The thought of that drives me insane, and it’s why I want to help people love work.
I firmly believe passion is the single most fundamental factor in contributing to fulfillment and satisfaction at work.
You might not know what your passion is (or at least think you don’t know), and that’s okay. But here’s how I think you can get there.
Choose an industry, not a job
Most people decide what they want to be based on the occupation itself. The job title. Because that’s what we all crave, right? The external validation of having a flashy job title?
“I want to be a ______________.”
And then they try to find a company that has an opportunity for that specific role— they don’t care about the industry as long as it pays.
While that might sound like an ideal route to getting the job you want (or think you want), at an established company that pays you decent money, I’d argue it’s far from ideal at all.
That’s not an effective strategy on the long-term because you will never become an expert at something. And more importantly, you won’t be emotionally invested in what your company does, or the broader impact your work has.
And subsequently, you’ll be less intrinsically motivated to produce great work — you’ll just continue to produce mediocre work so long as you can keep your job. Because why else would you care to put in any extra effort other than what’s required?
I’ll give you an example. When I was in university, I used to work part-time at Staples in their technology department. To be honest, I just took the job because it was a good source of side income, and I knew a fair amount about technology.
But I had literally zero interest in the retail industry. In fact, I despised it for its inauthenticity and its materialness. ‘Sell, sell, sell’ was the mantra. No one cared about our wellbeing, our personal fulfillment at work, or even if we enjoyed working there or not. All we were instructed to do was bring in the money, and make big sales.
People there were obsessed with tracking all the numbers and seeing who hit what, and if the company had reached new highs on a particular day.
But I didn’t care.
I didn’t care, primarily because of the fact that the company’s sales had zero correlation with the security of my job. Hey, as long as I could show up to work and put in a half-decent effort and try to sell some stuff, I was good.
So I had no motivation to actually excel in that job, because doing so wouldn’t have any direct impact on me (we weren’t on commission). There was no visible output that I could feel my work was having on my personal self.
As long as Staples could afford to pay me, my job was safe. Which, for a massive corporation like Staples, certainly wasn’t an issue.
So, why did I reference that example? Well, it’s prime evidence that…
If you’re not passionate about what you do, you won’t be motivated to produce great work.
When you’re considering what you want to pursue as your career, think about some of the things that really interest you. Not what your parents think interests you, or what the media presents as interesting to you.
Think about the things that actually get your heart racing, the things that would make you race out of bed when you wake up every day because you’re so genuinely excited to start tackling something that speaks to you.
Pick one or two industries that you love, and commit to finding an opportunity there. Even if you have to start at the bottom, I promise you it’ll be worth it. It’s much better than starting higher up at an organization that does something you have no passion for.
After all, when you start at the bottom, you know you’ll have to work your way up. And the only way to do work your way up is to produce great work. And the only way to produce great work… is to be passionate about what you do.
By being so inherently motivated by what you do (and whatever it is that your company does), you’ll naturally thrive and excel in your work — no matter how low on the food chain you are.
A good way to measure your overall happiness is using the traits below. How many of you can genuinely say you truly have all 9 of these things in your current job?
If you’re unsure about what it is that you’re passionate about, a good way to test yourself on this is asking yourself, “What does my vision of a better tomorrow look like?”
The answer to that question is your passion.
By choosing to be immersed in an environment that sparks a genuine interest in you, you’ll be blown away by how much more invested you’ll become in the work that you do, rather than than merely “having a good quarterly results call”.
When the company does well, you’ll be excited because you know the things you’re working on are coming to fruition and making an impact. You’ll genuinely be celebrating your company’s successes, because they’ll truly be putting a smile on your face and warming your heart.
And when the company goes through some tough times, you’ll feel it inside and you’ll genuinely be disappointed — but that’ll only serve as motivation that’s awaiting you to channel it into motivation to do even better.
Once you begin to feel like you’re an extension of the company, that’s when you truly know you’ve got a deep connection with your work.
And that is when you know you’re doing what you love, and you love what you do.