Do What You Love. Or Maybe Not

Love Never Fails

photo by Jhon Alfa Tumbelaka

Is it really best to do what you love? Or is it better to just get a job? What if you want your passion to remain your passion and not your job?  If you’ve ever actually tried to make money doing what you love (art, music, writing, teaching–whatever), you know that your passion can be sucked dry by the pressures and sticky details of actually earning a living. Even worse, that thing you love, that thing that was once a joy and release from the every day, has become part of the every day, so now you no longer even have your fun escape valve.

A friend of mine built a business around a passion of hers. After 14 years of running a successful but demanding business, she advocates keeping your creative passions for yourself versus wrapping your sustenance around them. Others say, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  I don’t know, though. I’ve been doing what I love for a long time, but writing as a business is a whole different animal from writing for the sheer joy of it.  It involves nasty unpleasant things like taxes, bookkeeping, billing, negotiating, and contracts.  I know. I know. This is all just reality. I get that. But is there wisdom in hiding a little piece of your creative soul away from your paycheck?

So, I’m curious. I’m really curious how others who work within their passions or creative gifts address this issue.  What do you do?


20 responses »

  1. I, too, like the concept of “keeping my creative soul away from my paycheck”. My Dad always said, “find something you love to do, learn how to make money doing it, and you’ll never work another day in your life”. Not so sure I totally agree with that statement, however, it beats working for a paycheck doing something you can’t stand. (I see way too much of that) It sounds like the word “work” has earned a “bad, 4-letter word” meaning. Sad. The God given ability to work, be creative, earn money while doing what we love…. well, I see it as a gift. When I can give it away… I do… for the health of it! (hee hee)

  2. I have learned that my passions or gifts need to be free to express themselves outside the context of a job. I have a list of examples for me personally.

    -I spent five years as a missionary expressing my passion to reach people for Christ but the overwhelming need to financially support a family began to weigh down my joy and passion.

    -I have a gift and passion for playing golf. After completing many steps to become a “professional”, I backed out and kept it as an experience of relaxation and escape.

    -After success with photography, I created a four year part time professional business with weddings and portraits. Now it is hard to even pick up a camera unless I go out alone and get creative.

    For me it is about being free.

    • Yes, the older I get, the more I get this, Richard. There are definitely days when I think a “paper or plastic” job sounds good. And then I think that maybe there are other gifts–besides the creative ones I love the most (writing, music, photography) that I could just kind of be selfish with. Know what I mean? What do you do now as a creative outlet?

      Is this Richard–as in Richard and Lori?

      • Richard, I like the way you think and will take your comment to heart. I don’t want to burn out by trying to profit from my passions. Great comment.

  3. I came across this photographer’s about page and thought of your post:

    “This has been great for my career and honestly it’s been a lot of fun, but, I never want to lose the hobbyist passion.

    This is why I’m starting a separate side of my photography and calling it “Shootabout.” I want it to be an “interruption from regular work” and a “spiritual journey” in which I can break away from the studios and the clients and get back to my roots. Shooting the world as I see it.”

    Great minds think alike!

    • She did more than think of your post, 🙂 she referred that photographer to your post. I suppose it goes without saying I know how you feel. I still do both, photography for work and pleasure, but I’ve found when I make a dedicated time to do it just for me, it keeps me passionate and helps my business at the same time 🙂

      • I do love that. Do you tend to do the “just for fun” photography on a weekend–or do you carve out a little time throughout the week? Just wondering how you manage it all and stay sane.

      • I have to do both. My schedule is a little bit crazy. I work 40 hrs a week Monday through Friday but that is mostly graphics and product photography, My Friday nights and Saturdays are usually client work so I try to set aside my Sunday afternoons for my ShootAbouts. I usually get enough stuff that I can then spend my weekday evenings going through it and putting together several posts. Sometimes I’ll shoot on a pretty weekday though if the moment grabs me. The main thing for me is always having my camera handy

    • Wow–I love that. Yea, I’ve been thinking about that whole idea of questions which parts of what we do should be work and which we should save as a soul-refreshing hobby. I like the way she says she’s using her talent to do both. That’s cool.

  4. Wow, Carl. That really is sad. As a former classroom teacher, I know exactly what you mean. I loved the kids too, and I really love to teach. The bureaucracy made me crazy, though. And, yes, the entitlement and apathy of the kids was sometimes discouraging. There were always those students, though, who reminded me why I loved teaching. Still, it makes me sad to know that so many of my teacher friends feel the same as you do. They are just downright tired!

  5. Teacher high school 33 years. I enjoyed it but non classroom ridiculous administrative demands and mandates and egocentric administrators just ruined it. Near the end I was just sucked up and burned out. It was never the kids(they keep you cool, young and hip) but near the end it was the kids. No book, no homework, late, absent, no sense of responsibility, no goals, no joy. Just automatons waiting to become 16 and drop out. I just could not do it anymore. It is so sad to loathe what you once loved.

  6. WOW! Fantastic post. I did what I loved for 5 years when my sis and I built an arts and crafts business. I loved the creative part of the business but hated the stress that resulted from trying to make enough money. I like what you wrote “hiding a little piece of your creative soul away from your paycheck?”

      • I’m thinking that perhaps I need to stop tying to build a platform and continue to build a creative life. If this means working as a teacher until I’m 60, then I’ll accept that. However, I will definitely delight in my writing and artwork along the way. I’ve thought about your post ever since I read it. I like the concept of keeping my creative soul “…away from my paycheck.” This takes the pressure off trying to turn my creativity into $.

      • Interesting. I really do wonder about this question. Of course, as complex humans, we usually have gifts in more than one area, so maybe we save some that are purely for pleasure. Seems like we need that; otherwise, there’s no escape hatch. But maybe others have found a way to work within their passion without killing it! 🙂

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