“Love what you do and it will never feel like work.”
False. A myth. I’m just not buying it.
In my professional career, I have had one job that I hated (though it involved some of the best coworkers I’ve ever had) and several jobs I have really enjoyed, been challenged and fulfilled by, and learned important lessons from.
They all felt like work. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love those jobs.
Maybe you’ll argue, “If your work feels like work, you’re not doing what you love yet! You don’t know how to find your professional passion!”
Let’s look at that.
I love to bake and cook. I make time for them every weekend. For me, baking bread is one of the most satisfying things in the world. I collect cookbooks and read them for fun. (In fact, some I’ve never even cooked out of; I just read them for their narrative.) One of my greatest pleasures is planning a menu. Despite all of this, I have no interest in working in the food, restaurant, or hospitality industries. Those hours. Ugh. No, thank you.
Work is Work
In my current professional role, I get to be creative, write, proofread, and strategize with my coworkers and clients - all things I love doing. Guess what? It still feels like work, and that’s okay! What’s wrong with feeling like you’re working? It doesn’t mean I don’t really enjoy my job. In fact, the days I feel most fulfilled are those when I really had to work like a dog to meet tight deadlines.
For the most part, when I leave the office, I can put my work to bed until I arrive the following morning. Of course there are occasional exceptions, and I always do what’s needed to get the job done. But each day, I make a conscious effort to transition from my work self to my home self. Here is a great, simple trick for making that transition. For me, my work is not my life. It’s an important part of my life that helps support all of the other important parts of my life: family, friends, volunteer efforts, interests, and home. I cherish my work-life balance and I am grateful for an employer that allows me to maintain a healthy one.
The World Needs Innovators and Implementers
As the saying goes, it takes all kinds to make a world. Thank goodness we have innovators - people who are entrepreneurs and visionaries, who may live for their work and have little, if any, work-life balance. Those are the people who are making important contributions and changes for the greater good, and we need them.
I am an implementer. A details person. You share your big picture vision with me, and I can help with the details required to make it happen. The world needs the people checking off the to-do lists as much as it needs the people with the grand ideas.
I had a friend once who referred to all times in life as seasons. I’ve always loved that. (It’s helped when I’ve been in a tough time to think of it as a season which will eventually change.) I realize that part of my need for stringent work-life balance is due to the season of my life that I’m in. I have a husband, school-aged children who still need me very much, volunteer commitments that I care about, and a household to run (with the help of my husband). Before I had a family, I worked some crazy hours: evenings, late nights, weekends. At one point I was even waiting tables at night while working 40+ hours a week at my day job in order to afford some experiences that were important to me at that time in my life. As my children grow, I anticipate my time at work growing, too, and I am excited to see what that will look like. For now, taking care of my corner of the world is the most important job that I have.
A Normal Day Is a Holy Thing
The key to my happiness is recognizing and taking pleasure in simple blessings. As Glennon Doyle once wrote, “A normal day is a holy thing.” I am okay with the fact that work is work, it feels like work, and I need to transition away from it at the end of each day to recharge for the next day. It doesn’t mean I’m not passionate, or hardworking, or ambitious. I can be and I am all of those things without living and breathing my work.
For me, and the life I love, this sums it up perfectly:
A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness. ~Albert Einstein, 1922
What do you think? Is there such a thing as work-life balance? Do you think my work feels like work because I haven’t found my passion? I’d love to hear from you. Talk with me in the comments!