Changing Jobs Getting Started

Should You Really “Do What You Love”?

Written by Miranda Pennington

There’s an old cliche, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, that claims to provide the key to contentment in work and therefore, in life. But will this advice, like “early to bed and early to rise,” really leave you healthy, wealthy, and wise? Lizzi Hart of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau says a better approach is “Try and find a job that you enjoy”–what it loses in poetry, it makes up in pragmatism.

Her reasons are fairly simple. Firstly, making a career out of a hobby you enjoy will leave you spending 8+ hours a day on an enjoyable pastime you used to spend a few hours on whenever you felt like it. Next, you have to determine what you truly want from life–is making money or finding happiness your priority? Hart reflects on the choices many people make when they head off to college–should they study something practical with obvious real-world and professional applications, or something enjoyable, if less directly motivated by post-graduation career opportunities?

Once you’re out in the working world, it’s a question of balance–if you’re feeling dissatisfied, remember that even your “dream job” may not stay so dreamy once it’s become a daily chore, but on the other hand, you may be able to infuse even the most quotidian tasks with an element of what you love to do outside working hours. And if not, Hart points out another frustrating cliché, “the grass is always greener”, and sometimes it’s more important to bloom where you’re planted. Even if you’re doing what you love, you’ll still be working–if you’re lucky!

Is “Do What You Love” Bad Career Advice?


About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.