Jody Phillips

Hirevision Career Coach


Can you LOVE what you do AND be rich?

“People who love their work bring an intensity and enthusiasm that’s impossible to match through sheer diligence. … Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability, it turns out, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice. Therefore, career experts argue, you’re better off pursuing a profession that comes easily and that you love, because that’s where you’ll be more eager to practice and thereby earn a competitive advantage.”–Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun (p. 71)

Has Gretchen got something here or what? Do you, like so many others, believe that work is 80% diligence and 20% passion?  Well, on closer examination, honestly, maybe it’s 80% diligence, 5% passion, and 15% mind-numbing boredom!
In a culture where Wednesday is referred to as “hump day” and the end of the week is greeted with a chorus of “thank God it’s Friday,” are we so disenchanted with our work that we’re wishing our very lives away?  Are you one of the many who live in anticipation of two or three weeks’ vacation a year, seeing your time off as your only genuinely pleasurable time?

The people I know who LOVE their work are unaware of time–other than not having enough of it!

  • For instance, when my architect friend Rich gets awarded a new project, he hops around like a kid who can’t wait to get into his sandbox.  Rich loves nothing more than dreaming up buildings. To him, design equals play.
  • Page, an editor I collaborate with, says that when she finally decided what she was put here to do, she couldn’t believe that people would pay her to read! Guess what her favourite hobby is? 😉

Both Rich and Page sometimes get up in the middle of the night to work! Yup–their passion knows no clock. Their avocation is truly timeless.

My belief: you’re not only doing yourself a favour by finding your dharma, you’re doing the world and your bank account one too. Why? Well, when work is bliss, you’re happier and more productive. That joy dribbles into your family life, into every human interaction you have. Happier people, happier world. As for your bank account, most wealthy people got that way by doing what they love, not by aspiring to riches. Money is a by-product of putting something excellent into the world, not an end in itself.

Can you feel the difference when a product or service is infused with the love of having created it? I can. So what’s your passion? What do you love to do?

4 Responses to Can you LOVE what you do AND be rich?

  1. Jamie says:

    I completely agree with this post. Of all the reasons why I want to continue teaching, the fact that I love it certainly ranks right at the top. From the first time I set foot in front of a classroom, I felt like I was where I belonged. In fact, I love teaching so much that I am sure that I could count the times that I referred to it as “going to work” on one hand. However, what I never thought of until reading this post, was that this passion has monetary benefits as well. That is certainly something exciting to think about.

  2. Thanks Jamie. Sometimes my sense is that we really feel that if we got what we wanted it would be too good to be true! Could we really LOVE what we do AND be paid for it? Your response is enforcing – you’re doing it! Your take is also interesting, because you weren’t even CONSIDERING the money, a sigificant part of the equation for most:) That in itself, is revealing. Where’s the priority when you LOVE your work? With the work. The money is dessert.

  3. Breathing Easier says:

    Another way to look at this is to consider that if you *don’t* love what you do, *no* amount of money can truly compensate for the daily misery you’ll endure.

    I was lucky enough to find my ideal career niche in my mid-twenties, and to be able to make a modest living at it as a freelancer. My former father-in-law once remarked that part of how I was compensated was in “psychic income.” He may have meant that as a suggestion that I wasn’t the world’s most astute businesswoman. But I remember thinking that as long as my basic material needs (e.g., a roof over my head, food on the table–and in my case, enough left over to keep me in books) were being met, I was pleased to have work that also fed me in non-material senses, with plenty of variety, opportunities to grow and learn, virtually no politics, and a feeling of being appreciated by my clients.

    Then I was offered a corporate position for what seemed like a huge salary and extremely generous benefits. The skills I’d be using would be virtually identical to what I’d been doing on a freelance basis. Sure, I’d lose a bit of variety and quite a bit of freedom. But I’d no longer have the hassles of constantly marketing and all the administrivia that goes with running a sole proprietorship. So I figured why not?

    Two years later, I lost that job. Once the initial shock and anxiety wore off, I realized that the firm had unwittingly done me a favour by letting me go. Although I might never have had the nerve to voluntarily walk away from the money and the illusion of security, I’ve really been *much* better off since they showed me the door.

    When soldiers are sent into harm’s way, they receive supplementary compensation beyond what they’d get if they were serving outside a war zone. It’s called “hazard pay.”

    I’ve come to believe that the high salaries paid by some organizations are often a kind of danger pay. To spend my days (and often my nights and weekends) in a windowless grey cubicle on the 29th floor of a downtown office tower, doing work that was largely unappreciated by the Powers That Be, was at best not much fun–and at worst, downright dangerous to my mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical health.

    I spent a lot of that salary on goods and services that were in some way made necessary by the very fact that I was occupied so unhappily for such a big chunk of every day/week: e.g., restaurant meals; taxis (because I was too exhausted and/or pressed for time to walk or take public transit); a housekeeper; and massages, OTC remedies, gym memberships, and weekend “getaways” to spas or resorts. The costs of convenience and of keeping my stress levels somewhat in check were high. And the “wear and tear” on my health was even higher. In one particularly wretched 6-month stretch, I gained 50 pounds, became profoundly depressed, and experienced a nasty flareup of a chronic illness that wound up landing me in the hospital for several months.

    Nowadays, although I’m earning considerably less, I feel vastly richer: in joy, in improved health (from making my own meals and walking lots more), in time and energy to pursue a balance of activities–both work and play–that I find fulfilling and meaningful.

    A friend and I were walking near a busy midtown intersection late yesterday afternoon. We were surrounded by people hurrying home from their day’s work. She remarked on how virtually nobody was smiling. I found the sea of dead expressions–sprinkled with outright scowls– sad, but scarcely surprising. Seems to me it’s the inevitable result of selling one’s soul for the sake of mere money.

  4. Great comments! You know what rocketed off the page for me? Your search for how you could do meaningful work was values clarifying. It begged all the tough questions: What’s most important to you? What couldn’t you live without? What could you live without? It pretty much demanded that you examine what YOUR definition of success and happiness is. The culture’s view – hot cars, hot tropical holidays, a closet bursting with hot clothes, living in a hot mansion – may not be yours. I mean they COULD be. But they may not. Reordering, or at the very least examining, your priorities is fundamental to doing work that is authentically right for YOU. Congrats! You did it!

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