One Sunday evening, I was having dinner with friends.
Between laughing about the outrageous things we see in New York and complimenting the potluck dishes we were eating, someone would inevitably let out a sigh and utter the phrase, “I really don’t want to go to work tomorrow.”
But this group of people has something that many of that 76% may not — their dream jobs.
My dinner companions may not all be compensated well, but that’s another story. These young professionals followed their passions (against advice telling them they shouldn’t), and their jobs involve doing things that they allegedly love.
This observation led me to a question: Is it possible that “following your passion” can actually make you dread what you once loved?
Georgetown University professor Cal Newport, in his book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” says it can.
As previously reported in Business Insider, Newport provides an example of amateur photographers and bakers who start businesses, run into financial problems, and end up unhappy. He says that just because you enjoy doing something, and your work revolves around that activity, it doesn’t automatically mean that you will enjoy your job.
It’s not difficult to see how money stress could make people dislike the thing they used to love. When they begin to associate their passions with their financial struggles, these once-treasured activities could become painful.
Similarly, entrepreneur and author Carol Roth, in a post on Entrepreneur, writes that there’s a reason “work is not called ‘fun’ or ‘hobby.'”
When the activities we use for stress relief and to bring joy to our lives become our method of earning a living, she writes, it’s bound to cause frustration.
When that happens, the activity we once loved may be the last thing we want to do.
Our passions also change as we grow older, something that investor Ben Horowitz addressed in a 2015 commencement speech at Columbia University. “What you’re passionate about at 21 is not necessarily what you’re going to be passionate about at 40,” he said.
We all probably enjoy activities today that we detested when we were younger. At 18, I found the thought of cooking stressful — but at 27, it’s what I turn to when I’m anxious about something. Conversely, there are things that we might have enjoyed as teenagers that we have no interest in participating in now.
Perhaps the real takeaway is that in your professional life — whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee — doing something that you love doesn’t make you immune to the challenges and hard work required to be successful. Part of that challenge is accepting that not every day, task, and interaction will be enjoyable.
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