Is it really necessary to love your job?

May 23, 2011

Whether we feel fulfilled often has a lot to do with our work (and work can mean a lot of things), as well as how we balance our work with our personal lives.

There seem to be two camps of thinking on this front:

1. Find a job you love, and do not settle for less.

2. Be happy working a job you don’t love if it allows you to pursue your love on the side.

Until recently, I believed in No. 1. I saw people working jobs they didn’t like, and couldn’t make sense of why they bothered. I found a profession I loved — journalism — so I figured everyone could find an enjoyable way to make money if they tried hard enough.

To an extent, I still believe this — or want to. Even if you can’t find a job you love, if you hate your work, chances are you can find something you like better.

But I’m also starting to come around to the idea of No. 2. Largely because I’m realizing that my love, journalism, is flawed. Yet even if I don’t love it, even if I only like it, it allows me — both financially and time-wise — to pursue other loves on the side. For me, those side loves are writing and blogging and learning. Maybe yours is travel. Or knitting. Or astronomy. For the record, family also counts as a passion, which means working to spend time with or money on your family counts, too.

The deal-breaker is when you’re in a job you don’t love and it doesn’t afford you the time or money to pursue your passions on the side.

Do you love your job, or do you work your job so you can do what you love?

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18 Replies to “Is it really necessary to love your job?”

  • “The deal-breaker is when you’re in a job you don’t love and it doesn’t afford you the time or money to pursue your passions on the side.” This describes why I left TV news. I began to feel all consuming. Today, I raise my kids and squeeze in writing (also all consuming) but it feels different. It’s hard, but satisfying in a way I can’t explain.

  • I don’t love my job at the moment, primarily because it isn’t very challenging. However, it has left me with enough time to start a blog and write over 65,000 words of a travel memoir. I still plan to look for a more fulfilling job when my contract is up because I am not yet ready to give up on option number 1, but I do appreciate the freedom to pursue my interests while still having an income. I think your current stage in life will have a huge impact on how you view this question. I’m young enough that I don’t think I’ve given my dream career enough of a shot before settling.

  • Sarah says:

    I think it depends. I used to work at a job I just disliked all the way around. Eventhough it paid me enough to live comfortably and gave me enough time to pursue my own interests, I felt drained by the weight of the job. So after I had my baby, I left. And that allowed me to explore other opportunities. Now I am doing something I love and getting paid for it – the best of both worlds. I also learned that there is not perfect job. Every job has its downsides. But the key is to find something I love enough that the downsides are mostly insignificant.

  • Peggy Frezon says:

    I’ve worked many jobs that I didn’t love. The drudgery of waking up every morning and–for the majority of my waking hours–doing something that was neither challenging nor fulfilling, was worth no amount of money. Now I write freelance full time and, although my income is limited, I can’t wait to wake up every morning and get to work! I love what I do, and it’s also allowed me ample time to donate to my passion- being with my family.

  • Kat says:

    I think that even if you don’t love your job, it’s a bad idea to stay at a job that you completely hate or that causes you undue amounts of stress. While you can work at something that allows you to pay the bills so you can pursue your passion on the side, if you’re absolutely miserable waking up every day and can’t find something to keep you excited about going to a place, that isn’t healthy.

    There may not be “the perfect job”; however, there is something that’s a balance.

  • Jen Zeman says:

    I agree with Sarah and Peggy. While my current job isn’t dreadful, it’s not fulfilling either. But, a lot like Peggy said, it pains me to be spending and/or wasting my time there when I’d rather be writing or doing something else creative. The job does pay well however, and I think that’s the anchor that keeps me rooted there. But, I really do want to move on because having lived most of my life at #2, I whole-heartedly believe you can find a career you love & shouldn’t settle for less. Others have done it, so I know I can too.

  • Lee says:

    I don’t love my job but it pays the bills (most of them anyway) and it allows me the time to do what I do love which is write, travel, be with my family, garden, etc. My goal is to make my love my job–be making money as a writer, writing about my travels, my family and this job allows me the time to work towards that goal.

  • Staci says:

    You talked in another blog post back on April 18, 2011, about taking the leap because dreams can change as our priorities change. 15 years ago I never thought my job would not be my passion. But as my priorities changed, I found myself looking for a job and staying in a job that on many days drives me absolutely crazy; but affords the time and the means to follow my passion. As long as I remember why I work my “day job,” I feel blessed to have the job! Someday I do hope that my day job, can be my passion. But right now, I’m in a bit of a waiting place, as I try to figure out how to turn my passion into a day job. Thank you for your on-going inspiration, Alexis!

  • Tracy Whitt says:

    What a great topic to roll over in our heads. Isn’t this what many people ask as they are driving home from work every day? I imagine there’s a need to love what we do because it fills up so much of our time.
    I am lucky to now enjoy what I do; taking care of children who have been neglected and abused. I found my passion, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I also rekindled my love of writing… not every day is “perfect,” there are some downright horrible days, but overall I think it’s wonderful and wish for nothing else.

  • eemusings says:

    I think both options are equally valid. Me, I’m somewhere in the middle (even though journalism is generally a passion thing;you certainly don’t do it for the hours or the money). I can’t imagine nor would I want to do anything else at this stage. But if I could work less (without the financial implications of that..!) then I wouldn’t be here 5 days a week.

    Not everyone knows what their passion is, or necessarily even has one. My fiance is one of those people. For him, I think finding something that doesn’t bore or stress the hell out of him, while paying well and not sucking up all his waking hours (and preferably doesn’t wreck his body; he’s from bluecollar stock and is good at working with his hands, but has the brains to make it in the white collar working world if he can learn to play the game and round off those rough edges, which is the current plan at his current job) will do just fine.

  • Heather Rae says:

    I ‘love’ what I do, but I only ‘like’ my job. I’ve come to find that no matter how much I love my work, a job is a job. There are days when it’s great, and days it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. I think it’s a combination of the two. I know for a fact (because I’ve been there before) that I couldn’t handle working a job that I dislike or that bores me, so I need a job I like a lot. On the other hand, I find my life outside of work to be way more important to me than my work life. My personal life always takes priority. I want the freedom and enough of a salary to do the things I enjoy (though I’m pretty cheap, so that doesn’t take much for me). I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a happy medium in there somewhere that seems to work well for me. 🙂

  • No.

    I mean, it is awesome “” really awesome “” if you do. Mazel Tov.

    But I think believing you HAVE to sends people on fruitless, unhappy journeys in search of some all-consuming-career-love; it creates a sense that All Will Be Fine Once Perfect Job Is Found. It’s just not true. Def. agree with other folks who said life outside work can be just as fulfilling and challenging, if not more so, and that an OK-to-good job is a way to finance that outside stuff. Balance. It is our friend!

    Now, if anyone is truly, truly miserable in their job, that’s different, that really does wreck your life. Been there. It’s worth it to leave any way you can.

  • Kim says:

    A few years ago I left a job I loved for the job I have now. The job I loved paid me enough money to get by. The job I have now pays me bunches of money but I don’t like it. I can say with 100% certainty that the job I loved, but that paid less money, was the best of the two.

    I learned from my new job that money doesn’t make me happy. I thought perhaps it would, but I was wrong. I learned from my old job that, while I loved it, it wasn’t my true passion (my “calling” I guess you could say) and that there would always be something missing until I tried my hand at what I really want to do.

    Long response! I guess what I’m saying is that I’m still in camp #1.

    I don’t believe everyone knows what they want to do in life

  • In the end, making a living is always a time for money trade of some sort. I’m a big believer in the “good enough” job, provided it allows the economic and time freedom to pursue outside interests to a satisfying degree.

    But why give up on the cupcake? Why NOT figure out a way to get paid doing something you love? It is possible. It is rarely easy. And, inevitably, there are aspects to anything, be it a job or your own business, that one dislikes.

    So, make enough to delegate that to someone else!
    Kimberly Bates, The Dream Designer

  • nikoya says:

    I have asked myself these same questions. There is no perfect job, and for a creative person, there is almost no amount of money that you can work for to truly be happy working in misery.

    After starting a business and setting a foundation for a life of my dreams, I have found my self in corporate America again. The choice was I’ll made because I thought the money was awesome and that I would still have the freedom to work on my business. Boy was I wrong. 2 months into my contract at this job, and all I can think about is how I jumped ship to the security of corporate america.

    Now I know for sure, that being secure is the easy way out and I live in guilt for not following my heart.

    Do what you love.

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