Thursday, July 17, 2014

More on the Myth of the Job You Love

"I'll show you the video tomorrow," said a soft spoken coworker as he walked out of the office yesterday. He was talking about going skydiving that afternoon. I felt no particular envy when I watched the short video clip this morning, although, my colleague appeared to quite enjoy his fall. I currently harbor no particular yearning to go skydiving.

Confirming that the enjoyment apparent in the video clip was genuine, my coworker affirmed that, despite his skydiving and an earlier white water rafting trip, he was no thrill seeker. He talked about his skydiving coach and whitewater rafting guide. "What I liked most about each of these experiences was rubbing shoulders with people that have careers doing something they really love."

This last statement was tinged with a degree of melancholy and more than a little malcontent. Some fellow staff members chimed in and started talking about what they would rather be doing. All of these people have decent jobs and are good at what they do. Yet each in his own way seemed to lament about an inadequate level of passion for their chosen career. None of them hated their jobs. They just wished for something ... more.

As noted in this post, I long ago came to grips with the fact that very few people get to spend their careers doing jobs they absolutely love. There is no shortage of people that hate their jobs, but I'd wager that most of those that we think adore their jobs will admit to grappling with a fair amount of daily drudgery as part of their profession. I assume they are like me. Some days I love my job. Some days, not so much.

I'd also wager that most people working in jobs such as skydiving coach (such as the one to whom my colleague was strapped yesterday as he soared through the air) or whitewater rafting guide end up eventually migrating to some other kind of work as a matter of physical necessity.

A simple fact of life is that few people can manage to find others willing to pay them for following their passions. As I stated in my last post on this issue:
In real life, you don't get paid to do what you love to do. You get paid for doing something that somebody else needs to have done. Doing what you love to do is called recreation, and you generally pay to do it rather than getting paid for doing it. Jobs are called work because they involve a healthy dose of drudgery.
If we ever do get a job we love, we might soon discover that enjoyment + employment = annoyment. Once the prize for which we have longed is in our grasp we may discover negative facets we had previously ignored.

In other words, I think that my coworkers are needlessly longing for a fantasy that either doesn't exist or that is so scarce as to qualify as a myth. It is human nature to be somewhat dissatisfied with the state of our temporal lives. After all, something within each of us longs for something better, even something divine. Discontent is the precursor to nearly all improvement. But torturing oneself with envy for something that can't reasonably be had seems hardly like a path to happiness.

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