"The lust for comfort murders the passions of the soul." - Kahlil Gibran
There’s a story going around that sounds something like, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
It’s a story I definitely heard growing up. Today, sometimes it’s coupled with the idea that, if you do what you love, you’ll also find yourself sipping margaritas poolside in a location where the sun always shines and never sets.
I’m calling bullshit.
The idea that our passions and purpose will suddenly fill our lives with magical fairy dust, leaving everything we touch gilded, is making even the most purpose-driven of us second guess ourselves and wonder if we’ve misstepped and gotten it all wrong.
I love the sentiment behind the story. Yes, when we do work we love, when we pursue our passions, and when we are fueled with purpose, there are days where work flows out of us. When we find purpose and meaning in what we do, even the mundane tasks take on new meaning. Mornings become easier as we get out of bed excited by the work we do. The line between work and play blurs a bit when it’s our passion that employs us.
YES to all of that, but it’s a myth that as soon as you set foot into the realm of your passions and purpose that your life turns Technicolor and there are never clouds in the sky.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe our dreams aren’t random, and we can all create the lives we want. It’s my passion to help other people find their version of success.
I think we get ourselves into hot water, though, anytime we put such pressure and expectations on any one area of our lives.
We wouldn’t expect any one person to fulfill all of our needs. We don’t expect the love of our life to be without flaw or to never experience a disagreement with them. Relationships don’t work that way (newsflash), neither do our careers, even those passion-purpose ones.
Those of us who are lucky to have found passion-purpose-filled callings still have moments where it doesn’t all come up daisies and it’s, well, work.
Social media may paint a different picture, but behind closed doors, once the selfie sticks are put away, even the most blissed-out creators have moments when they aren’t feeling “it”, when they question their path, or when they’re just plain tired and would rather take a day off.
None of this is to knock the importance of our passions and purpose down a notch. I want to shine a light on the behind-the-scenes truth because the message we’re being fed is causing people to question their path.
These hedonic expectations cause us to throw in the towel at the first scent of challenge, and obstacles give us a “sign” that we’re doing the wrong thing.
The passion-equals-all-play equation is keeping us caged in our comfort zones.
Discomfort doesn’t match up with this image we hold of the creative genius working a few hours a week and spinning gold. Ironically, it’s causing us to turn away from our true passions and purpose to face the familiarity of what we know. It’s holding us back, keeping us playing small, and from discovering our versions of success.
Here’s what I know: You can be passionate and love your work and still get frustrated.
You can know your “why” and not know how, or know how and not be clear on your “why”. You can fall in love with you work and still have fights with it. Your passion can be your “soulmate” and there can still be those niggling tasks and obligations that drive you crazy. You can fall in love with your purpose one day and question it the next. Your passion can feel like a vacation in one moment and like a chore in another. Even the most passion-purpose fueled callings have their not-so-shiny moments...the muck behind closed doors.
Here’s what I believe: No one thing, no one career, person, place, fill in the blank can be everything to and for you. Believing this fairytale story about work will keep you from finding your passion and purpose, just like waiting for a knight in shining armor to come rescue you from your life will keep you stuck and waiting a very long, long time.
If your dream job is feeling like work here and there, rest assured you’re not doing the wrong thing. And if you haven’t found your version of success yet, know it’s out there and it's well worth the work.