I joked with a friend today ( The Amy Experience ) that I’d need to get irate about something soon because I’ve been so long without a blog post. And then it happened, simmering all evening and boiling over right in the middle of trying to get through a workout (sorry Shaun T.).
Passion. Work. It would be wonderful if those two things went together, but most of the time they really don’t. A lot of jobs are not meant to be your passion to begin with, so you don’t have any expectations to eat, sleep, and breathe them. For example, I loved my McDonald’s gig in high school, but nobody expects you to or cares if you do. My current field is not like that and maybe yours isn’t either. But guess what? It’s really okay if you aren’t in love with what you do for your paycheck, as long as you do it well. It’s okay and don’t let anybody tell you different.
Oh my God I’m a terrible person. Wait – no I’m not – I have a life outside of work that is important to me. I have people in my life who don’t understand or care what I do for a living and that’s just fine with me. I have a job with a high burn out rate AND I live where I work, so you’d think I MUST love this gig to be doing it so long. Nope, I just seem to be good at it. Passion is not as important as competence. Passion also shouldn’t replace work-life balance.
Ask your supervisor which is more important: that you are good at what you do or that you love what you do. A good supervisor will say they want you to love what you do so that you are happy; an honest supervisor will say they need you to be good at what you do so that they are happy. A lot of your job is probably doing things that make your bosses’ jobs easier. So be good at it, but don’t let people make you feel like it has to be your entire life. You know why people like you to labor under the illusion that you must have a passion for what you do? If you talk yourself into believing it, you’ll be more likely to work yourself to death doing it. YES! you think – when those other shameful rats are going home on time to be with family or take care of personal business or exercising or pursuing their dream of becoming the next hot YouTube makeup vlogger or going on vacation – I WILL BE HERE! SHOWING MY DEDICATION! GIVING YOU EVERYTHING I HAVE! SACRIFICING FOR YOU BECAUSE I AM SO ESSENTIAL!
Not to break your heart, but you can be replaced at work without much trouble. We all can. Your family, your friends, the things that make you thrive? That’s where your passion needs to be focused.
For a long time, I thought something must be wrong with me for not pursuing those next-step jobs or that higher degree or writing that article or becoming well known in my field. Guess what? I don’t care about that stuff. I DO care about having health insurance and a place to live – I’m pretty passionate about that. But I like working behind the scenes to make people’s lives easier. I don’t need to be the best of the bunch at work but I do need to do the job to the best of my ability and I do.
Don’t suck at your job, but don’t forget about your life. Your life isn’t waiting around for you to finish running yourself ragged and it is impervious to disapproving looks. If you happen to be in a career that you absolutely love, I am so happy for you! Feel free to let me know if you find a job with solid pay, travel to fun places, and lots of chocolate. I’ll be all over that. Until then, I work for a paycheck, not passion.