The complex challenge and delight of doing something you love for work is that you’re doing something you love . . . for work.
Firefighters don’t spend their off hours putting out blazes (unless spouse is not a great cook), and cashiers at walmart don’t go home and continue swiping items over the scanner (maybe just in their dreams).
After scribbling words and ideas for hours in a chair at a desk for a deadline and a client, writing for fun in my free time feels utterly unappealing. Crafting beauty no longer feels like a joy—it feels like responsibility, another item to check off a to-do list. But indulging the laziness and not writing introduces the creeping chill that if I don’t write, I’ll lose the ability. And that would be far worse than sitting down to write for an hour or two when I don’t feel like it.
There are plenty of variations to this.
• Maybe you do a job you don’t like and you’re struggling to get out of bed to go every morning
• Maybe you used to be passionate about your work but you’ve lost the spark
• Maybe you’re waiting for another opportunity or recognition and nothing has come along
It all begs the obvious question that has no obvious answer:
What in the world am I supposed to do now?
Though I have no really obvious pie-in-the-face answers, I have a few ideas.
1) Quit. Artists, don’t want to paint for salary? Trader Joe’s is always hiring—hawaiian shirts and hand lettered signs are just a two-weeks notice away. Or you could storm off and flip some tables, and they’re just a day away.
2) Persevere. When the going gets tough, that’s when it really matters to stick it out. There’s an uphill and a downhill to every mountain hike (unless you build a house at the top and never leave). It might just get easier if you don’t give up now.
3) Hold open hands. Remember that your job isn’t your life, and none of your personal value actually comes from working it. Don’t find your worth in client, coworker, or boss comments, or you’ll be riding the ever fluctuating roller coaster of compliments and criticisms and compliments and criticisms and compliments and criticisms and . . . Bonus tip: Ask your three-year-old if they care that you’re the CEO of your company, and odds are they’ll care a lot more that you’re their parent.
4) Nourish your passion. Reserve time and space to do what you love just for yourself, just because you love it. And if sometimes you end up spending all four hours staring at a blank canvas with a paintbrush in hand, don’t regret it. Just do it again next week. And if the same thing happens week after week, month after month, strongly consider 1).
5) Find a like-minded community. Even for the hermit-est introvert, there’s undeniable synergy in finding someone else who loves to do the exact same thing.
At the end of the day, there’s no hard and fast solution—you have to figure out what works for you. One word of hopeful advice: making a living is not worth losing your passion. There are other jobs in the world.