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Love the Job You’re With

Long long ago, Confucius planted in our heads that if you “choose a job you love…you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius said a lot of good stuff, but on this one I pretty much think he was full of crap. In fact, if I hear one more person say or read one more “I love my job” tweet I might very well fall prey to uncontrollable fits of gagging. Really? You love your job? How sad for you.

Alright, wait a second, let me take that back. I’m actually happy for you. I mean that’s really cool that you can actually have “affection for…take great pleasure in…[maybe even] require” something that you are “expected or obliged to do” or something that is “your duty; responsibility.” I once thought it was absolutely impossible to truly love a job. It seemed amiss…like it just wasn’t meant to be. Now I’m not too sure. I’ve run into a lot of people – as I’ve greatly expanded my network and exposure over the last couple of years – who I think actually love their jobs. Almost as if it was at their core. Are they faking it? Some…yes. Are some fooled? Sure. But all of them? No, I don’t think so.

Part of my problem is that I tend to view love as a finite resource…only so much to go around. And if that’s the case, why the hell would I use all of my love up on my job? But maybe that’s not the case. Maybe love really is boundless. Maybe I can really love my family, my dog, the beach, smoked baby back ribs…and still have enough for my job. I mean, I already “get tremendous satisfaction” from my job. I’m already “passionate about it.” I’m certainly “in-like with it.” What’s so wrong with loving it? Why couldn’t I work at and commit myself to loving it? Well, there are some risks to loving. I suppose ‘loving your job’ can start to border on cultish at some point. I suppose it can start to interfere with other (more important) relationships. It could become all consuming…a drug, or a mistress. And then there’s the chance I’ll just get let down at some point…left in the dust. The French Proverb, “love makes time pass; time makes love pass” sometimes rings all too true. And even if it doesn’t pass, it sure can be volatile…exhausting even. Lynda Barry said, “love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke.”

The other problem is that I’ve spent a lot of time running around looking for the right job opportunities that may just lead to love. Like it’s the job’s fault I don’t love it. Now that I reflect on it, that doesn’t seem very fair. Francesca Aguado warns us that “if you spend your life trying to find the perfect ‘one’, you’ll find it too late.” Maybe it’s futile – the ‘perfect’ job doesn’t really exist. It’s what we make of it…it’s how we learn to love it. Like an arranged marriage, almost. Or in the timeless words of Crosby Stills and Nash, “love the one you’re with.

I don’t know. Love is confusing. And it’s hard. I’m still not sure I’m ready to grant that precious emotion to my job. But I’m going to stop judging you for loving yours. After all, “if [you] love…what business is it of [mine]?”*

*Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Image Credit: 49th-parallel

  • Laurie Halter

    Hi Charlie –

    This topic is so necessary! I am one of those that say they “love” their job, but if I really get down to the core of that statement, I think it’s more about what I love to do within the job – work with clients, strategy, biz dev. There are also some things I don’t like – managing, the inertia of process….

    By focusing on what really gets you going in your CURRENT job, perhaps the parts you love can overcome the parts that make you want to bash your head into a wall. :) Great post!

  • Karen Siwak

    Love it! (the post, that is). This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges that I face when working with clients who have been raised on “find your passion” mythology – getting them past the idea that there is a single “passion” for them, that if they can but find it, will lead to life long fulfillment. Passion, love-of-job, is a quality that you bring to your work, not an outcome or a destination.

  • Jen Turi

    I agree with Karen! Loving your job should be a process and involve continual learning. It is not a destination. If it were, we would probably stop loving it once we arrived.
    Jen Turi´s last [type] ..Using Opposite Day To Change Your Corporate Culture

  • http:/ Frannyo

    It’s tricky.

    I do believe in loving your job, not because you have to, to do a good job, but because it makes work more fun. But I believe that love is a verb. You have to make it happen, by picking a reasonably good place to work, giving great effort and finding a way to work with people you respect, being realistic about how stable your sweet deal really is, and cultivating a great life outside the office.

    I’ve seen too many people confuse loving their jobs with loving a particular, non-stable state, like their title, or some power, or a special perq, or working with a particular person or a particular brand they’re proud of. Their work is their sole identifier, sole source of pride. Change one thing and they’re toast.

    Don’t be that guy.

  • Charlie

    @karen – love the idea that it’s not an outcome or a destination, but a quality that one brings. love it.

    @jen – “process and continual learning” make the idea of loving your job less daunting. i think people tend to view it as a either/or proposition – black/white. but working at it, working with it seems more manageable. thanks

    @franny – i promise, i will try not to be that guy. thanks!