Ask Maynard: What Should I Do If My Job Isn’t My Passion?

July 8th, 2015 / Comments Off on Ask Maynard: What Should I Do If My Job Isn’t My Passion?

Thanks so much for your interest in “How do I find what I am passionate about” on Ask Maynard. It’s such an important topic and I appreciate all your comments and questions. This one is particularly relevant for so many:

OK, what happens when no one wants to pay you for what you’re passionate about? How about if you’re not any good at it, and regardless of application, you never get to be? How about if it isn’t legal? Now what? Passion is all well and good, but not all passion can result in the ability to earn a living. —John Beatty, MA, Mil Hist OE Parts Manual Manufacturing Supervisor at JoyGlobal Surface Mining Equipment
I couldn’t agree more! The best of all worlds happens when you can earn a living at doing what you love to do. How amazing to be able to check both those boxes, but it’s not always the case.

I’m passionate about football. I’d love to be a lineman in the NFL. The problem is, this didn’t happen for me at 20, and now it’s pretty clear it’s not going to happen for me at 60, so pining for this dream is not a good use of my energy.

At first I wasn’t sure of what kind of job I’d find passion in, but I always went in with enormous enthusiasm for doing the best job I could do. My first management job involved replacing cashiers with ATMs. It was my job to manage the cashiers and design the screen flows for the ATMs. I became obsessed—stopping at every ATM I encountered and studying its user interface. Was ATM screen design high on my list of passions? No, not really, but I was thrilled to be in my first management job and it was fun to be able to create something.

I learned that every job had good and bad parts. Not everything is perfect every day, but if there is some “purpose” that comes with it, you can find meaning and fulfillment. In my early days of working my purpose and therefore my passion was about providing for my family. Therefore, the economics that a job provided were important and even if the job wasn’t perfect I was motivated to do a good job and find it fulfilling.

Passion is found in all sorts of forms. As one of the readers, James Varrone, commented to the original post, “If your job isn’t your passion, you can get through the day and your passions become the reason why you work. The truth is, some people live to work, others work to live.”

Whatever you do, if you go in with a good attitude and see it as path for learning you will find much more opportunity and happiness than if you go in not inspired every day. And, if it’s not legal, don’t do it—even if you are passionate about it and it provides good economics. It’s hard to have a great career when you are in jail.

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