"I love what I do."
How often do you hear people say these words? Maybe if you spend a lot of time with motivational speakers, it’s commonplace. But no matter how emotionally invested you are in your work, it’s easy to feel like something is missing. After all, isn't putting "love" and "work" in the same sentence akin to using "pleasure" and "toil” in the same breath? Chances are though, if you like what you do, on a good day you might actually feel some love for it. But is that passion for work life the key to happiness?
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Surely this maxim will find it's way into many a graduate's ear this spring. But can it be that are we setting them up for disappointment by expecting work to feel like… not-work? As Chrissy Scivicque in Forbes challenges, “It’s dangerous to suggest that work can be anything other than work."
"That's why they call it work."
It's true that even those who have reached unimaginable success at their would-be dream job would have to admit that, on some level, work is still work. But perhaps after redefining our expectations of what work should be, we can actually appreciate the happiness within. If you have ever had a day where you wanted to swap positions with a happy-go-lucky sanitation worker, maybe it’s the happy-go-lucky part you need to focus on.
"Labor of love."
Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in-between attitude and aptitude. Once you know how much happiness you can reasonably expect from any work, you see your own work in a different light. Start with the notion that some component of work will always be, if not tedious, at least routine. A farmer can still love to farm, even if he doesn't enjoy being at the mercy of the elements. A doctor can love to heal the sick, but they also have to spend a good portion of the day filling out paperwork. Remember that difficulty and unpleasantness are a component of any job worth being passionate about. Being in a position of authority can make these extremes even more marked.
So, is having a passion for what you do the key to happiness? The answer lies not in blindly pursuing something you think might make you happy; it's in deciding to approach everything you do, in and out of the office, with passion.