How to *Really* Do Work You Love

— For the rest of your life. No B.S.

Tim Denning
Oct 16 · 7 min read
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Photo by Shahin Khalaji on Unsplash

Work you enjoy doing shouldn’t be a distant fantasy.

Call it passion, work you love, a hobby, something you’re willing to die for — it’s all just a fancy way of saying “doing a task that brings about effortless flow states.” Where you love the work you’re doing so much, a day feels like 60 minutes.

Google is your worst enemy when it comes to finding work you love.

Here are a few things I found:

Kill me now. This is possibly the worst way to find work you love doing. A university is a business.

They don’t care about what you love. They just want to charge you a six-figure price tag so they can invest your money in the stock market and build new buildings with whisper-quiet air con.

Mark Manson said this. I love Mark. But this is really bad advice.

Why does doing what you love have to be some ridiculous version of hustle porn? Sure there might be a bit of struggle and a number of setbacks you have to face.

But if you hate all of that and want the work to end, you’re not doing what you love. Everything involves sacrifice. When you do what you love doing, the sacrifice is worth it. You’re willing to sacrifice, rather than dreading it.

Nope that isn’t it either.

Your heroes will disappoint you. Behind the scenes those Hollywood idols are snorting coke and cheating on their partners while their kids are sleeping in the other room.

I got to see my heroes backstage. It was a moment of disappointment. They were more concerned with how they looked and making money than deeply caring about me and my desire to worship the ground they walked on.

Heroes are not like you — because they’re deeply flawed like you.

Not actionable. Just do what, Nike?

So playing with toy tractors and learning the piano is the answer? Nope that’s not it either. The adult version of you has moved on from these childlike activities. You’ll end up back in the sandpit with this advice.

I love me some Oprah, but honey, that’s terrible advice. What does that even mean? It is woo-woo. Why? It’s not actionable. So I sit in the bath and follow my heart to nowhere? My heart is going to talk to me, is it?

Oprah, you lost me again. If you love everything then you love nothing.

Loving everything means loving that pain in the ass 9–5 job you’re already doing that you want to quit. Love a couple of things — ideally one thing — makes more sense.

31% of the population are engaged

If you’re not doing work you love, you’re not alone.

An annual study from Gallup (whose sole purpose is to track these metrics) on how engaged we are with the work we do, in 2020, says 31% of people are engaged. Engaged isn’t love though. Loving your work is deeper than that.

So the cliche advice clearly isn’t helpful otherwise more people would be doing work they love.

Outside the small percentage of those doing work they love (I estimate less than 10%) the rest are disengaged. If that’s you, you can change your reality.

This Is What Doing Work You Love Feels Like

Sometimes I just don’t give a f*ck. Like the other day when my fingertips made this appear on the computer screen:

The hard thing to explain is, this is all I ever want to do. If I die tomorrow, I will die happy.

This was in response to all the haters in my career who told me to stop writing. The thing is, I can’t stop writing. I love it with every cell in my body.

That’s how powerful the feeling is of doing what you love. It’s worth fighting for, to experience that feeling for the first time — or again, in case it has been a while since your work made you jizz your pants.

How to FIND work you love

(The anyone-can-do-it simplistic guide.)

If I sat you down and asked you to teach me something, what would it be?What you choose to teach can be a sign of what you love.

What’s the thing you always want to do but never have time for? What’s the thing you think you’ll do on the holidays, but not now?

Your calendar reveals a lot about you. So does your internet browser history. Study it. What is an activity you spend a lot of time on, or spend time researching?

Do you give unwanted updates on the stock market? Are you always turning business conversations at work into something else? What tangents do you regularly take in conversations?

I take work conversations about “growing the business” and start trying to convince people to write online. The idea of writing is everywhere, to me. There’s no escape from it, especially for the people close to me. What can’t your loved ones escape?

Do you have too many movies on your computer? Is your house full of gym equipment? Do you have cupboards overflowing with cooking equipment? Is your house full of books? (What type of books?)

Does your journal have a key theme?

There are signs everywhere about what you love to do. Spend time noticing the signs. Experiment until you find what it is.

It will be really obvious when you discover what it is.

For me, it was writing. The answer was right in front of me the whole time. Now I give up a lot of my time to write, and I refuse to apologize to anyone for this. You can do the same.

DO THIS… Once you find the work you love

We all start out as freaking amateurs. If you’re embarrassed doing what you love, in the beginning, you’re on the right track. The point is to get started doing what you love doing, not to impress people with your skills. You have to start somewhere. Being plain sh*t is a good place.

This one is two-fold. Work that you do effortlessly is a sign of work you love doing, it’s also what you must do once you find your chosen work.

Flow states make doing what you love effortless. The trick with flow states is to formulate a process that is uniquely yours and helps you trigger them whenever you do work you love.

If you can’t consistently get into flow states doing what you love, then you’re not doing what you love. Go back to step one.

Grandiose ideas of doing work you love get you nowhere. Take a micro step towards doing more of the type of work you love. Start with 30 minutes extra a week and then build your habit from there.

Micro steps lead to habits.

Muscle memory leads you to unconsciously do the work you love for the rest of your life. Automate the work you love doing once you find it.

Version 1.0 of doing what you love involves doing it for free. It allows you to focus on your skills and cementing your habits, so nothing can stop you.

Money becomes a distraction to doing what you love if you start out focusing on it. Money comes after you find what you love doing and get respectably good at it.

Money won’t buy you happiness.
Money WILL buy you more time to do the work you love.

Now that you’re doing what you love, what do others love about it? Use the thoughts from the people observing your work to take you to the next level.

Doing work you love for the benefit of other people is deeply gratifying beyond anything you’ve ever experienced.

Accelerator: “Do it like you want to do it,” says Oprah

Okay I was a little rough on Oprah earlier. She does give some excellent advice in this field. “Do it like you want to do it?”

“Passion is contagious.”

“When you’re fully present and passionately engaged with your life, people around you take notice and want in on whatever you’re doing. Another side benefit to proactive passion is kicking life-sucking habits like procrastination, resistance and complaining straight to the curb,” says Oprah.

Passion takes doing what you love, and attracts all the people you need to make it happen.

Do this if everything falls apart…

As you’re doing work you love, two things can happen:

  1. Everything falls apart.
  2. You don’t know what to do next.

Writer, Nicolas Cole, has a philosophy for life that will help you:

Take the next logical step.

There’s always a next step you can take. You may not be able to plan, decide, or see a year in advance. But you can always work out the next logical step. That’s how you destroy setbacks, and always keep moving forward and leveraging the power of momentum.

The cliche advice on doing what you love is useless. It’s woo-woo. It’s unactionable.

There is no time like the present to do what you love doing. You no longer need to overcomplicate it or listen to universities, who couldn’t care less about the sort of work you love doing.

Be in the tiny minority of people who do find and do work they love. It isn’t hard when you become practical and deliberate about it — by thinking about what you love to teach, don’t have time for, spend a lot of time on, or can’t stop telling people about.

The work you love is in close proximity to you. Find it and spend the rest of your life doing it… your way.

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Tim Denning

Written by

Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship www.timdenning.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 128,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Tim Denning

Written by

Aussie Blogger with 100M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship www.timdenning.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 128,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

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