Don’t just do what you love
“Do what you love” has become something of a mantra in today’s society. Perhaps a backlash against the “Do your duty, even if it kills you” perspective of the war generation. But, is only doing what you love really the path to fulfilment?
Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat, Pray, Love suggests that instead of piling the pressure of providing financially onto our art, we could actually promise to do whatever it takes to be able to carry on making great art. And art here can be anything. Our art is our heart. It is our creativity and the output of our greatest talents. If art is made to sell, then it is not art. Perhaps we shouldn’t be trying to make what we love into career. Let what we love be our art, and let our calling be our career. Gilbert herself (pre her rise to fame) promised to keep on waiting tables so that she would be able to carry on writing.
Of course the “Do what you love” idea has some wisdom to impart on us. It reminds us to not remained chained to a job or career that doesn’t make us happy or that doesn’t have meaning. But I think often this is misinterpreted and even used as an escape from doing that which we really should be doing. Happy doesn’t necessarily mean comfortable.
What if instead of doing what we love, we do what we are called to do?
Even if it means being challenged, and having to do the things we really resist. In my journey starting the Grassy Hopper, I’ve had to do many things I don’t love. I don’t love accounting, I don’t love having to have difficult conversations, I don’t love the stress of managing cash flow. But I am called to do all of these things. I am called to do all the things that I don’t love, which need to be done for the greater good of the business…and it is precisely these things that have made me grow the most. Through this growth I have found my fulfilment.
If I did only what I loved, my business would be bankrupt and I definitely would not be happy or fulfilled. In ‘The Path Less Travelled’ Scott Peck says “In attempting to avoid the pain of responsibility, millions and even billions daily attempt to escape freedom”. He goes on to explain how the discipline and strength to face pain is actually the foundation of being able to love and lead a healthy life. By clinging to “Do what you love” at all costs, we may be simply indulging in comfort. At the cost of our fulfilment and our calling.
Somewhat counter-intuitively perhaps our greatest freedom is in discipline, and our greatest joy is in challenge.
Doing what you are called to do means you have a vision of something that needs to be done. Something you believe in. This gives a sense of purpose to all the mundane and annoying tasks that must be completed en route. I believe that once you find this calling, this vision, you will find the discipline to really bring out your full potential.
It will be at once challenging and rewarding.