“Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life” – Harvey Mackay
Unlike what the North American educational system will tell you, life is more than studying for two decades in order to spend the next three or four working 9-5 in a cubicle. If that was our true purpose, we would find support in nature for that industrial lifestyle and there is none. The idea that we are born to work is a human invention whose main function is to ensure the continuation and development of our virtual economy and society as we know it. It wasn’t crafted for us to grow as individuals or for us to reach happiness. It is a system based on productivity, money, conformity and rigidity. It therefore comes as no surprise that many workers realize at one point or another in their lives that they are not fulfilled by the job they do; the promise that a biweekly paycheck would bring them happiness was a lie to get them to join the ranks of automatons who diligently go to work every morning regardless of how they feel about it.
The picture painted above seems a bit grim, I admit. The real problem is not so much that we are obliged to work (that’s a debate for another day) but rather the reasons behind our choice of career. Too many times, fear is the main motivator and we don’t always think twice about our happiness when we’re promised benefits and security. Desperate, we jump on the first secure job we find and we stop looking for our dream job. We forget our goals, our passions… Swallowed by the monotony, we forget who we are.
Some writers believe we should not strive to do something we love as work. Those writers deeply mystify me and I can only feel sympathy for them and their work which can only be unsatisfactory, judging from what they write. I have found in my own life that choosing a line of work I love was one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken, that and welcoming my fiancé and business partner into my life years ago. Most successful people will tell you the same:
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do… Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs
Truth is, the key to finding your dream job not so much about the type of work you do, the size of your paycheck or the position you have in your company. The key is finding what brings you joy, your drive, and finding a line of work which is in alignment with that. It doesn’t have to be complex or fancy; it could be something as simple as loving to meet new people. If you get excited every time you get to socialize, working as a salesman or a hairdresser for instance could fulfill this need. For some individuals, knowing that they will meet someone new everyday is what motivates them to get out of bed in the morning with a grin on their face. For me, happiness comes from creating, inspiring and helping others; that’s why working as a designer and, through my work, helping our clients succeed in their own projects, brings me satisfaction. Blogging, teaching and painting are also great ways to share knowledge, advice and creativity with others.
Passions differ greatly from an individual to another, evidently; each of us is a unique human being with unique experiences and a unique skill set. Choosing a career path based solely on the volume of the paycheck, the amounts of benefits, parental pressure or fear of failure, does not take into consideration who we are and what we love. A job resulting from such choices will not allow us to express ourselves and put our heart into our work. When we censor ourselves this way, we miss a great opportunity to participate to the growth of this world as well as to our own growth.
Remember that although money comes and goes, you will never get back the time you spend at work every day. You should therefore make sure your time is well-spent.
How can I find my true passion?
People often make this into a complicated task when in reality finding your passion is quite simple. If you aren’t sure what it is, start by taking a piece of paper and write down on it what you like to do. Don’t be shy or embarrassed; if one of your favorite things to do in the world is drinking tea, write it down too. It could be important. Don’t give yourself limits but make sure to write down only what resonates with you, not what other people say you ought to like/do. They can write their own list if they want; this is yours and yours only! Once you are done, put down the pen and read it from top to bottom. I’m sure that you will find on that list at least one item which could become a career path (hint: if there isn’t, it’s either because you didn’t write down all what your heart told you or because you’re not allowing yourself to see the actions you wrote as something more than a hobby. Allow yourself to dream a little – that’s what life is about). If indeed what you wrote comes from the bottom of your heart, I wouldn’t be surprised if you catch yourself daydreaming about that perfect job.
What is stopping you from reaching for your passions and integrating them into your work? Is it fear of the unknown? Fear of lack perhaps? Ask yourself, is the paycheck you get from your current job worth the in dissatisfaction you feel in life? Are you willing to forfeit your happiness in the name of money, peer pressure or fear of the unknown? Is your current job unique in its ability to provide security for yourself and your family?
Asking yourself those questions can be hard. Most of us have been taught NOT to pursue our dreams. We’ve been bullied by teachers, family, friends and/or society to give up before even trying, bullied to join the ranks of the defeated. We’ve been trained to believe wanting happiness is futile.
How is it then that we still long for it? How is it that we crave happiness if it is only a fantasy? I will tell you why: You crave happiness and meaning because they DO exist. They do not only exist, they are accessible to everyone. Joy is our natural state and our birthright. You only need to reach for it, take the first step and the path will unfold, step by step, guiding you towards it.
But don’t take my word for it; try it for yourself, and you will see.
Making the jump
“There are many talented people who haven’t fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith.” – James Cameron
Making the jump doesn’t mean you have to jump off a cliff tomorrow. Don’t sell your house, your car and hand your boss your resignation letter just yet, unless you are 100% sure that’s what you want to do and feel ready to do it. Once you’ve found your passion, you can prepare the terrain and gradually include it into your life. If you’ve found that becoming a tattoo artist is what will bring you joy for instance, you could start by taking a class and gathering over the next few months the tools you will need to work in the field. If your dream is to open a small restaurant, start by saving money, write down a proper business plan and look into grants and loans available to new entrepreneurs. There is no rush; time is your ally. Slowly but surely, build strong foundations for your dream. That way, when the time will come to leave your old job behind, you will have something solid to lean on.
Although preparing the terrain can be a very pleasant exercise, some of us are more impulsive or simply do not have time to make a slow transition. Making the jump immediately if you are sure of what you are doing can also work. I’ve done it myself and it worked splendidly. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and the time was now. Don’t push yourself too hard however and if you feel it is all going too fast, slow down and go at your own pace. Making your dreams come true is exciting but it can also be a bit scary. Try to make it a pleasant experience.
Living in the moment
The key to living a happy life, besides doing something we love, is living in the present moment. It is seeing the value in every experience and feeling grateful from what we can learn from them. Your old job for instance, no matter how awful or boring (or both), probably was the catalyst you needed to realize change was needed. It is what led you to finding your true passion and to realizing that happiness is possible.
Living in the now also means opening your heart to the beauty of life. It is realizing you are not only an actor on the stage of your life but also the director and scenarist. You can rewrite the lines as you see fit. It is taking responsibility for your own day to day happiness.
You deserve to be happy. So pick yourself up from the hole you dug for yourself and start building the life of your dreams today.