Do the work that you love to do

By glblguy

When I was eleven years old, I was exposed to my first computer. I loved working on it, entering complex instructions and seeing the computer do what I had told it to do. I drove my Dad nuts until he finally gave in and bought me one of my own. I cannot even imagine how many hours I spent programming that computer, but I would suspect it just might be one of the best investments my father ever made.

I love computers and love working with them. The creativity involved in writing a good clean program and the reward I receive when I finally make it do exactly what I want lines up perfectly with the way I am wired. I was fortunate and realized all of this at an early age. I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up and I pursued it aggressively. The best part? I got paid to do something I loved to do.

Do what you love to do

I thought about all of this as my 13 year old son and I were talking the other day. He is going through the process of trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. He hasn’t had that life changing moment like I did at 12. He’s talked about being a pilot for years, and now suddenly was talking about being a surgeon. I asked him why and his reply was “They make a ton of money.”

We talked for a while and I expressed to him that no matter what you choose to do in life, make sure you do something that you love to do because you’re going to be doing it for a very long time. Sure, making lots of money is attractive, but the money only buys short term happiness. If you hate your job, the satisfaction the money brings will only last a short while.

My advice to him that I’ll share with you is: Do what you love to do – Determine what that is and go find somebody that will pay you do it.

Finding what you love to do

I believe that God created us for a purpose (if you want to find yours, I highly recommend The purpose driven life). He gave each of us different talents and abilities to serve that purpose. It took me almost 40 years to find my purpose, but I firmly believe it is to teach. That is why I write here on Gather Little by Little, it’s why I love being a manager, and why I love being a father. Once you find your God given talents and abilities, you’ll not only be able to do your best, but you’ll be happy as well. Trust me, there is nothing in world like looking forward to going to work on Monday morning. When I was a software developer, I truly looked forward to each day. Now I look forward to writing here on Gather Little by Little each day.

Here are some ways to help you find what you love to do:

  1. What are your hobbies? What do you do when you’re at home and on your own time? Make a list of these things, and pick the one or two that you truly love to do. Make another list of possible ways to make money doing those things.
  2. Find the one thing. Put all of your responsibilities aside and ask yourself: What is the one thing you would like to do?
  3. Read 48 days to the work you love. This book, by Dan Miller will walk you through a 48 day process of not only helping you to do determine what you talents are but how to take action and get the job you love doing. Really great read and highly recommended. Dan’s book was one of the things that encouraged me to start Gather Little by Little.
  4. Don’t worry about the opinions of others. As you try to find the work you love, others will try to rain on your parade. Don’t let this happen. Of course listen carefully to those that you trust and love, but don’t worry about anybody else. Oh, and remember those same people are most likely doing a job they hate.
  5. Don’t be discouraged. Finding the work that love is hard and can take time. Often we’ve done something for so long, that making the transition to something else is not only difficult to do, but scary. Take your time, but be diligent.
  6. Don’t jump in head first. Some may disagree with me on this, but I wouldn’t recommend jumping in head first. This is particularly true if you have people that depend on you and your income. I recommend starting off part time and putting a plan in place to transition to full-time. Jumping in head first may give you the work you love, but an inability to pay the bills.

For some, finding the work they love will come easily and quickly, for others it will take time. You will struggle and you may even have to try a few different things. Some will fail and some will succeed. The trick is find the thing you love to do and being able to make it succeed. Remember also, that just because you’ve found what you love to do, doesn’t mean that you can do it now. It may take a while, so put a plan in place on how you’re going to get there.

One more thing, many people know what they love to do, they want to do it, but never execute. Don’t make this mistake. Once you know what you would like to do, begin taking steps to do it. Don’t hesitate or else you may never do it.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Are you doing what you love to do? If so, how about sharing your story with others. Not doing what you love to do? How about sharing with us what you want to do along with the first step you’ll take to begin doing it.

Photo by: DavidAll06

15 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Do the work that you love to do”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Not getting discouraged is the hardest part. You think you’ve got this great idea, but then it doesn’t take off and give you instant success like you were expecting.

    You get frustrated, and may end up dropping the project. If you stuck it out, you might find success.

  2. Funny about Money Says:

    Where do you find the muse, as it were, if nothing that you want to do is salable? A young man I know, for example, is very good at cooking, but about 99% of jobs in kitchens are very low-paid and, like many low-paying jobs grindingly hard work. He likes to hang out with his friends, cooking spectacular meals and socializing into the night. His only other real interest is playing computer games; he doesn’t know much about programming, so he’s not about to go into creating new computer games.

    He got a bachelor’s degree in international political science from an expensive private college, not because he was interested in poli-sci but because he eventually was forced to declare a major, any major. He imagined he would go into international trade, because he likes to travel and is interested in Asian cultures, but that never came to anything. He couldn’t pass the exam to get into the foreign service, so that idea led nowhere.

    He’s now working in a job he truly hates earning mediocre pay. He’s thinking about pursuing an MBA, which may help him to get better pay doing work he hates. What do you do if there’s little that interests you very much, and if the activities you do enjoy are not things that will earn you a living?

  3. Chris Says:

    I agree with what you told your son, “Do what you love.” But how does an 18-year old going into college know what he loves to do, much less a 13-year-old? I thought I knew what I loved when I went into college, but now I’m 10 years older and I know I don’t love it. So, I think finding what you love is a long process. At least it has been for me. It’s foolish to believe that teenager can know what he wants to do the remainder of his life. He hasn’t had the life experiences to draw from to make that big decision.

  4. Frugal Dad Says:

    Good advice–unfortunately it took me 30 years to recognize what I love to do, and it wasn’t the thing I was formally trained to do in school. Makes me think those who are undecided should obtain a more generalized degree–say liberal arts, or general business, and then go work for a few years to discover their real passion. When they discover it they can return to school for post-graduate training in their specialized field (if necessary).

  5. Steward Says:

    Right now I am trying to appreciate what I do now as I prepare to do what I love doing in the future. It kind of sucks, but my family has to eat food :) . Do you have any advice for those in a situation like mine (working to get by while they work out how to do what they love doing)?

  6. James Says:

    I agree with you frugal dad that it takes a long time to find what you are looking for, unfortunately most people don’t go back to school to get a better degree and learn more. It becomes more difficult when you have more things going around you. I have decided to just get my MBA now and earn a little extra money. This is important to me because it allows me to have a greater earning potential in the future.

  7. Curt Says:

    This is simple not practical

    Most people don’t like their jobs and the few that do have either learned to become content or worked their way into a financial situation that allowed them to do something more enjoyable. I think better advice is to ‘love the work that you do’.

    You are perhaps fooling yourself by thinking that it took 40 years to find what you love to do. It’s more likely that you are now in a better financial situation and no longer have to depend on your boss firing you to feed your family. That alone can reduce your anxiety and improve your attitude about your work.

    I also like to teach, but perhaps you like to teach because you like to research, write and read the positive feedback from your readers (as I do). Teaching is only fun when your students want to learn. A friend of mine taught a college math class with 80% of the students who could care less about the subject, but had to take the class for their major. An experience like that can quickly change your mind about teaching.

    A teenager likes to do lots of things and what they like to do changes as they grow older. I don’t think you can let your teenager get away with getting a college degree be default – as another commenter suggested. Parents need to sit down with their kids and help them get a degree with a corresponding market. Your kids can do whatever they like to do after work. After they have a good job, they can pay off their debts and get into a position to do something else – if they still want do.

  8. plonkee Says:

    Nearly everyone I work with enjoys their jobs so I guess that we’re pretty fortunate. I don’t think they love it, and we all have bad days but everyone is really positive. Things that help are working for a functional organisation, having lots of variety and being given responsibility.

  9. glblguy Says:

    @Funny About Money – Why can’t he do what he loves and make money? How about starting his own catering business or even his own restaurant?

    @Everyone else

    As far as people not knowing what they want to do when a teen, college age, you just need to go with what you like at the time. My interests have changed over time as well, but I just continue to make moves in the direction of what I love doing. I used to hate writing, now enjoy it very much. I’ve also found that finding what you love involves some trial and error. There are some things I’ve thought I would like, but after learning more about them, decided I didn’t.

    I also agree that it’s not always feasible to do what you love right away. I did say it wasn’t easy and may take some time.

    Thanks for all of the great comments.

  10. Eponine Says:

    After years of going to grad school then working stressful, low-paying jobs because I didn’t finish my dissertation (and was generally sick of trying to accomplish anything), I decided to try high school teaching. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but I’ve been doing it for a year and a half, and so far, I do. There are days when I think I must be out of my mind to willingly spend my time with teenagers, but in general, they’re bright, interesting and fun. Sometimes they make me laugh so hard I can hardly stand up. I do love French, so teaching it to kids is a way to do what I love.

  11. Pinyo Says:

    My first computer was a PC XT (coincidentally, I was 11 also). I fell in love with computer and later with programming ever since. That’s one reason why I love blogging so much, especially with all the behind the scene tweaking/programming that I do.

  12. Says:

    don’t be afraid to take some calculated risks and explore options… and don’t be afraid of failure… I too like Dan Millers books.