Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Go Ahead: Do What You Love!

 There’s an old saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

This axiom is mentioned often at graduation ceremonies, as older people try to impart some wisdom on younger people — who most of the time aren’t paying attention. When I was a young graduate decades ago, we had to work hard at not paying attention to the speaker, a technique we perfected during four years of classroom lectures. But nowadays, the graduates don’t even have to work hard because they can just watch Tik Tok videos on their smartphones and drown out the “blah blah blah” coming from the stage.

Anyway, that old expression makes the point that if your occupation is something you love doing, then going to work each day will not be a chore. Instead it will be something you look forward to and enjoy.
Well, that’s great advice, as long as you happen to love loading heavy boxes onto delivery trucks all day long, or selling life insurance to people who don’t want to talk to you, or getting yelled at by angry customers because they ordered the wrong item (and somehow it’s YOUR fault!) and therefore they have no intention of paying their invoice and you can just go pound sand, pal!

Yeah, I’m not sure there are many people who LOVE to do those things. 

Years ago, I took this advice and tried to “do what I love” and therefore “not work a day in my life.” Except what I loved to do was watch sports on TV, eat Fritos, and drink beer. I really enjoyed those activities immensely, so much so that it didn’t seem like work at all. But there was one slight problem: no one was willing to pay me to do it. 
So, when the rent and the car payments came due — which seemed to happen on a fairly regular basis — I was forced to go to a local warehouse and load boxes. And later for a brief and painful time, I tried to sell life insurance. Then finally, I found a career in the HVAC industry where a sizable part of my day, it seems, is spent getting yelled at by angry customers.  
After four decades, I can honestly say I now enjoy many aspects of my career, but when I go to work each day, it definitely feels like I’m going to a job. That “never work a day in your life” concept is nowhere in sight.

I’m not sure which occupations/professions fall into the “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” category. Certainly, there are careers that people describe as their life-long dream: education, medicine, law enforcement, etc. But if you ask even the most professionally satisfied teacher, doctor, or police officer whether they “never work a day in their life,” they’re going to stare at you incredulously and then suggest that you steer clear of the local cannabis dispensary for a while.

And don’t forget, what people “love” changes over time. For example, I now love to watch sports on TV, eat Fritos, and drink diet Fresca. That is totally different compared to when I was young.
So, that old expression should be something like, “Do what you love — in your spare time — and you’ll never get evicted or have your car repossessed.”

In today’s economy, that’s about as good as we can hope for. And during graduation ceremonies, I bet if the commencement speaker proclaims this new and modified axiom, it will cause the young people to look up from their smartphones and ask, “Wait. What did he just say?”

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