Loving What You Do
Do what you love. Find your passion. Live meaningfully.
What does this all really mean?
Is what you love good for you? Will it support you? Will you love doing the same thing forever? Claiming that this is the secret to success feels at best, oversimplified and worst, short-sighted.
But this doesn't mean there is no truth to it. It simply points to the fact that without nuance, being told to do what you love is more likely to confuse and frustrate, than provide guidance.
But perhaps some clarity can be created by switching around two small words. By changing, “do what you love,” to “love what you do.”
These two statements sound similar, but are in fact critically different. Doing what you love refers broadly to the idea of following an area of interest or passion. Loving what you do, brings the level of focus down to the specific tasks, activities, and actions that you do as you follow that passion. If doing what you love means being an artist, then loving what you do would refer to the joy you take in putting your brush to canvas, pitching your work to galleries, and pushing yourself to create and innovate. If doing what you love means working in disaster relief. Then loving what you do would refer to the extent that you enjoy making calls to resource organizations, organizing logistics, and networking between partners.
So why is this nuance so important?
Firstly, because the world is complex. We love things for many reasons and often love specific aspects of certain things while hating others. A salesman may love the product they're selling but hate having to constantly talk to customers or keep inventory. Programmers may love their software's effects, but hate the long hours of carefully combing through code. Even rock stars may love fame and appreciation but hate spending their lives constantly traveling and touring. This demonstrates that in so many cases, doing what we love, requires us to do many things that we actually dislike.
This difference can also be expressed in terms of how doing what we love and loving what we do affect our presence and mindfulness. Doing what we love (without loving what we do) leaves us vulnerable to living in the past of future. The salesman and programmer are both living in the past. They are acting based on their past positive impression of their product and program, but haven't reassessed their present reality to see that they don't actually love selling or writing code. The rock star is living in the future, fixated on the rosy promise of fame and fortune without realizing that their dream requires a lifestyle they dislike. Loving what you do involves moving out of our past beliefs or future dreams and into the present. It means looking around and saying, "I love exactly what I have here."
Think back on the last time you did something that you were really passionate about. It could be a sport, a game, creating art, an academic pursuit, or anything else. When did that experience benefit you the most? Was it at the end? If so, did you really love the experience or did you suffer through it so that you could arrive at a beloved end product? Think again.
It was beneficial - in. the. moment.
When we love what we’re doing, we’re constantly benefiting from it. Time flies out the window, and when we’re finished, we may step back - but we remain ready and eager to diver back in.
When we do what we love, we’re laboring for something we believe in. We fight towards our lofty goal, but ultimately will fatigue. When we love what we do, we never stop, we never quit, we never finish. We become stronger, better, and more skilled. But these things happen naturally. We don’t desire them. We only desire to continue. We have no need or longing for an end result.
Doing is all there is.