I always thought my ideal job would have been a cricket commentator. A combination of watching a sport I love, traveling, meeting lots of interesting people and getting to talk and be incisive and witty for a living. Plus, a great Richie Benaud impersonation.
It never happened. I didn’t take a single step in that career direction. Pure fantasy. Sigh.
Doing what you are passionate about, or love is often touted as a recipe for a happy life. Do what you love and you never have to “work” a day. Lovely. Trouble is that isn’t the reality for most of us. Doing what we love may not monetize enough and if that’s the case, it isn’t sustainable. We might love it but not be very good at it (and yes, I know all about the 10,000 hours concept and the idea that talent is not fixed) and that’s not going to work as a career option either.
The truth is that most of us don’t choose careers doing what we absolutely love or are passionate about. We work in IT, professional services, media, healthcare, pharmaceutical, charities. We start in junior roles and get better, get promoted, get ahead.
Many years ago, I was asked by Mike Williams, a brand consultant, who had been talking to me for an hour or more and said: “I get your business Richard, but what is it all really about? Why are you doing it?” (This was way before Simon Sinek’s Start With Why TED talk). My answer, completely spontaneous and until then unspoken was “I think I’m just trying to help people enjoy their work life.” “Ah. I see. That should be your brand then.” And so it became the brand.
Most of us work for a living. It’s not a passion project. Hence, we have to enjoy what we do. We have to find joy, meaning, purpose and happiness in the careers and roles we are in. You may not have that right now and that’s OK. There are times when it’s Ok to grind through. If grinding is going on too long, it might be time to change. But I’d argue that enjoyment is there in almost any job. As with happiness, it’s the little things that create enjoyment and they could and should be cropping up regularly. If they are not, you may be looking in the wrong place, or working in the wrong place.