The Only Way To Do Great Work Is To Love What You Do

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I was talking to a new university graduate recently and they were complaining “I hate my new fulltime job but all jobs are like that so it’s OK“.

I said that doesn’t have to be the case … I enjoy my work so much that most of the time it doesn’t feel like work … just having fun interacting with people and learning new information

Sure your 1st job might not be fun, same for the 2nd and 3rd jobs … but eventually it will become clearer to you what you truly enjoy and are good at doing and you can try and find a job that combines these 2 aspects.

I’m not a fan of Apple products or part of the “cult of Steve Jobs” that follows his every word with bated breath but I was impressed with his Commencement address at Stanford University on June 15th, 2005 where he told the new students a few stories which included this quote:

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.

And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
– source Stanford Report, June 14, 2005: ‘You’ve got to find what you love,’ Jobs says

I think a key sign that you’re doing work which is your true calling is if you can be yourself while working, using your own persona not a fake persona created to hide your true feelings. What do you think?

9 thoughts on “The Only Way To Do Great Work Is To Love What You Do”

  1. Nice post Neerav. It has taken me something like 13-14 years to find a job/ career path that I truly love. I firmly believe that there is a fulfilling career out there for all of us – you just need to keep looking & moving if you are stuck in a role that is soul destroying.

    EDITOR: thanks for your input Daniel.

    what kinds of jobs did you go through in those 13-14 years?

  2. Can’t say that I am happy with my job… the politics of it is awful but I get my Health Benefits paid for and bonus cheques quarterly… so, I basically put my head down and do my thing and go home… hey, a girl has to do what a girl has to do… Health Benefits in the US is awful and expensive…

    EDITOR: I empathise with you. For a 1st world country the US has a very unfair health system.

    The key is make sure you’re always on the lookout for something better, don’t get stuck in your present position for the long term.

  3. The impact of motivation on productivity is completely overlooked on tests of intelligence. The assumption among a majority of psychometrists must be that motivation is not part of intelligence. Yet, I see no essential division between doing and wanting or, differently stated, being able to do and wanting to do. On the contrary, it seems obvious that not wanting to do something or having no clear motivation in the direction of a specific accomplishment hinders a person from performing to the best of their ability. Therefore, who is to say what level of ability a person has on any given type of mental task?

  4. Excellent summary of one of the keys to happiness. The challenge though is balancing the job you love with family and other commitments. When you are married with kids, that 70hr/week job that you loved is no longer feasible as it takes too much time away from your family.

  5. I think that is the ideal. But what we often forget is that when we just start out, we might not really know what we want to do. And this may also be true of workers during their mid-life crisis. The world has changed so much over that last 50 years and will change much more in the next 50 years.

    I guess what we should do is to keep our focus on what our priorities should be and to accept that because change happens, we need to keep looking ahead. But it truly would be wonderful if we all could find joy in our work since it takes such a big portion of our time.

  6. Great post. I struggled with this for about 10 years myself. Just have to know yourself well enough to choose the path that is best for you. Sometimes accepting what gives us the most is not the high powered job or big bucks that come with it is a tough thing to do. I look at it this way, there is time to do and be everything…just maybe not all at once.

  7. Interesting read. I discovered your blog by typing in “I hate having no career path”. I am a 23 yo male who graduated recently with a Bachelor of Science (Environmental) and am now working as a Technical Officer within the Medical Department of a major Sydney University. Everyday I hate my job and simply see this job as a means to pay the bills. I would be open in every way to opportunities if they were to come along, but you need the ability to recognise opportunity if and when it presents itself.

    I feel my problem, and that of most of my recent graduate friends, is if you have no obvious passions (career or personally) it makes it nearly impossible to see beyond the mundane pressures of today to focus on the future. It is very difficult to identify your ‘calling’ when everything you analyse seems less and less appealing. This is a very common perspective I see today at University graduate level. I worry for myself and everyone else at my age who already feel overwhelmed and ready for retirement at 23.

    EDITOR: Hi Timothy. Sent you a reply via email, please respond when you have time

  8. I agree, we all need to find jobs that we love to do, otherwise everyday we will feel sick of it. But finding the jobs that we love is different story. Lets says, we find the jobs that we love, but the salary is not as good as the job that we hate. So which one you’ll choose?

    Its really great topic discussion here.

  9. A great article Neerav about a topic close to my heart.

    I have struggled over the years to know what it is that I want to do with my life. I still remember at 16 visiting the careers guidance counsellor and feeling very sick because I had absolutely no idea what it was that I wanted to do for a job.

    Cut forward 12 years and to some extent little has changed. I still don’t really know exactly what I want to do with my life career-wise, but I am lucky enough to have a job I really enjoy. The thing is, I have started to worry less about whether I will find my perfect job, and focus more on being exceptional at every job I have.

    I have found that by focusing on working to the very best of my ability every day, I take more out of my job and feel more fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, I still stress about the direction of my working life – I think this is natural and common, but I am more philosophical about my approach to my career now.

    Ultimately I’m a big believer in keeping focused on the task at hand, but also keeping your eyes open in case an exciting opportunity should present itself. The biggest danger with focusing too much on feeling unfulfilled is that it takes your focus away from seeing and grasping new opportunities.

    I love communicating with people, in any context, and about any subject. This makes the span of jobs I could possibly love very broad, but I think that is a positive thing, rather than something to worry endlessly about.

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