This article struck a chord when I read it months ago. Incidentally, it was circulated by my big boss, which is somewhat ironic, but mostly very cool. The main point of the article has been popping up in my mind sporadically ever since.
In my current work position, I couldn’t agree more. I care very much about my job because I find it meaningful, and it gives me sufficient scope to spend time on the things that matter (i.e. my family, my community, myself). I really like the people I work with (okay, 99% of them, can’t say 100%), and sometimes, I stay awake at night pondering work issues because I do feel strongly about the subject.
But I feel that it has become hackneyed to talk about one’s “passion” for work. “Do what you feel passionate about”, “You will never have to work a day in your life if your work is your passion,” well-meaning folks intone. “I am in this line because I have so much PASSION for it,” she says, a tear welling up at the corner of her eye.
Hmm. Ok. Good for you, I guess.
Or maybe not.
That’s why I felt that this article was refreshing in its honesty.
If I ever see anyone crying at work because, say, their marriage is breaking up, then I view that as entirely understandable. But if they are crying because their presentation went badly and they felt passionate about it, then I want to tell them to get a grip.
Perhaps it is just semantics. But the overuse of the word and its association gets to me, which is why I’m on the soapbox about this today.
It’s probably more appropriate to be passionate about your family, about your spouse, about your faith. Possibly not so necessary to be passionate about, or to say that you are passionate about, your job.
Work is work. When we get so passionate about work, what does that really say about our priorities in life?
Of course there are some people who have managed to eke out a living from their principal passion, faith or hobby. But I think such people are few and far between. So for the rest of us, don’t think you’re missing a limb if you don’t feel heart-and-soul passionate about your job. It’s normal, it’s ok. Your employer should not expect or demand that of you.
They are in control of how much work they do and don’t let it annihilate the rest of their lives. All workers should hope to feel this way about their jobs, and all employers should hope to hire people who do. However this isn’t passion. It is called liking – and caring – about your job. It’s nice work if you can get it. But it ought not to make you cry.
All the average employer wants is people who like their job and care about it.
So whilst I sometimes think about how it’s be nice to have someone to pay me handsomely to scrapbook as and when I like, on what I like, part of being a responsible adult with a good grasp on reality is knowing that this is neither realistic, nor my lot.
I have parents to support, a family to think of, and my own retirement to consider. Not wanting to impose on my children or my state is part of being a responsible adult too, I suppose!
Well and good to chase dreams or to decide that I would only take up employment (or an entrepreneurial and eventually-paying role) in what I like or feel ‘passionate’ about (like what dance is to some people), there is no shame in deciding to take up a more run-of-the-mill job.
To those on the cusp of starting working life, I’d like to say this. If you decide to take up a stable job, you have not betrayed yourself, your passion, or your dreams. You have not ‘sold out’ by not pursuing only what you like doing.
You are more likely than not, being a responsible adult.
Your job does not make you who you are. A work title is not the sum of your parts. Those who matter will know you for who you truly are. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it?