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Leadership Now

The 3 Do-What-You-Love Conundrums

Doing what you love for a living is easier said than done. Take these three thoughts into account before you combine passions with career pursuits.

[Image: Flickr user Dominick]

I make a living doing what I love, and I recommend it to my kids. Doing what you love for a living is fantastic.

However, it comes with three conundrums:

  1. Will earning money for what you love make you stop loving it?
  2. Can everyone do what they love?
  3. What about stuff you don’t love but have to do?

Those are excellent questions, and numerous people have asked me variations on all of them.

Here’s what I’d say:

1. When you do what you love for a living, don’t show up every day for the money.

That’s a lousy motivation, and eventually it’ll become drudgery, because money isn’t something you can really love. Instead, show up every day for a better reason. I show up every day and put in my hours because I hope what I do will help people, and I love helping people. It never gets tiring, never becomes drudgery.

2. Yes, everyone can do what they love—but not necessarily for a living.

I realize I’m extremely lucky to be able to do what I love for a living. You might be able to get lucky too—I’d give making a living from what you love a shot before dismissing it. See if it’s possible. But if not, still do what you love, on the side, for no money. It’s still worth doing, even if you have to do something else to put food on the table.

3. Even if your income comes from what you love, you still have to do stuff you don’t love.

Tasks that are no fun. Things that have to be done, but no one likes doing them. So what? Sometimes hard stuff needs to be done in order to make the stuff you love possible. Show up and do it. Hard things aren’t that bad. I use them as mindfulness practice, and by the way, I love mindfulness practice.

This article originally appeared in Zen Habits and is reprinted with permission.