Why “Do What You Love” Doesn’t Make for a Good Career Path
We’re told all the time that we should do what we love, and that if we do “we’ll never work a day in our lives” – but the fact is, real life isn’t that simple.
I love singing. I was always in choir in both primary and high school, I took singing lessons and my favourite part of church was the hymns… but that doesn’t mean I’m good at it.
Don’t get me wrong, I can hold a note, and if I know the song well enough I can throw a harmony or two in there, but I’m never going to sell out concerts halls. It’s just not meant to be.
We all have things we’re good at, but not every little thing we love can be turned into a long term career. What we should turn into a career are the things that we’re truly good at.
No one wants a nurse who really cares about their patients but can’t calculate the correct dosage, or an architect who is hugely passionate about creating beautiful spaces but doesn’t understand important things like support beams.
We’re told (often by Americans in film and TV) that we should constantly be searching for “the one”. The one career that we’ll spend our whole life loving and feeling fulfilled by and that when we find that everything else will fall into place.
But there are always going to be days when you’d rather be at home, or when there’s something on that you’d love to go to but you have to work instead.
My mum loves being an ICU nurse, and tells me all the time that she loves it – but it doesn’t stop her feet hurting at the end of the day or make her hate checking her work email address any less.
There are always things about a job that you’re not going to love, and that’s ok.
Instead, first find what you’re truly good at, and then find career paths that work around it. Don’t be afraid to get honest feedback from the people around you.
When was the first time you were told you were good at something? If it’s when you were a child, you might want to speak to a career counsellor or other professional in the field to find out if you’re genuinely going to be able to make a career out of that skill.
Often, people end up thinking that they’re better at something than they actually are because people are afraid to hurt their feelings or be seen as not being encouraging.
If you do know you’re good at something but it’s not something you particularly enjoy, don’t get disheartened! Sign up for clubs or online groups on social media like facebook, instagram or twitter to find out how other people make a career with those skills.
You might love caring for other people and be great at english but don’t want to end up teaching or in healthcare, you may discover that you’d flourish in a career in ethical journalism.
We all have things that we’re good at, and in some ways it’s more rewarding to use what we’ve already got than to strive for something else. While doing what you love is a reason for enjoying your job, it’s not the only one.
Many people love what they’re doing because they know they’re so, so good at it – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Oftentimes, we end up loving things because they’re easy for us, because they come naturally and almost no one chooses the difficult path.
So find what you’re good at and where your natural skills lie. Then use the tools available to you such as google or social media to find out how that can result in a rewarding career.
By telling people to “do what they love” we do them a disservice by implying that life is so simple that loving something will make it easy.