I have always loved music. I received music awards in high school. So it’s not a surprise that I started college as a music major. It was a mercifully short experiment. As I like to say, I majored in music until I discovered that there was an uncertainty generating money in the future for a job by majoring in the field of music. Simply “doing what I loved” would have been a poor career advice for me. And yet, it is advice I have always followed. Is doing what you love a ridiculous concept in this economy?
It seems to me now to “do what you love” is one of the worst pieces of career advice ever. Today’s economy, coupled with endless media coverage about the best-paying jobs and the need to pursue a “practical” education, seems to give lie to this classic career advice.
So where did this controversial advice begin? Like its companion philosophy, Follow Your Bliss...the philosophy of “do what you love” has been around for centuries, dating back to early spiritual texts. And also just putting down the book Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow has some responsibility for promoting the much heralded phrase.
Unfortunately most job seekers haven’t read her book, and the phrase has been turned into a bumper sticker, devoid of meaning and potentially dangerous in its simplicity. It reminds me of another common piece of advice, “Leap and the net will appear.” Yes, sometimes it does. And sometimes you just crash.
In the introduction to this book I was reading lately it isn’t suggesting in any way that doing what one loves means doing what one feels like doing. She describes people who are still waiting for the money to follow: an actress who has yet to catch her break; students enrolled in “tedious, often boring” graduate studies they hope will propel them to what they love; a painter who, knowing it will take years to master her craft, works at a day job and paints on weekends.
I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Peaceful Warrior “A warrior does not give up what she loves. She finds the love in what she does. There are compromises and creative solutions along the path to doing what we love to do. To find the love in what we do. Money doesn’t just “follow” we must do the work first, invest in ourselves, and gradually see the results of our efforts. Finding the love in what we do in all aspects of our lives might be the best way to move forward in today’s career path. It’s all about mindfulness.
Take a few minutes and ask yourself if you have found your right livelihood. Are you pursuing what you love? or have you found the love in what you do? Because it might be that doing a less-than-ideal job that puts food on your family’s table is one aspect of the love you can find in it. And then you can begin to seek openings for what else you can love. Even in this economy there are ways to incorporate what you love into what you do. Because the truth is you probably love many things. I know I do. Once music was off the table, I shaped my career around other loves. Psychology. Writing. Literature. Art. Teaching. Counseling. Films. and YOGA.
It seems that our right livelihood will evolve over the years, that is, in a mindful way. Do what you love can be the best or the worst career advice depending on your self-awareness and mindfulness..