DWYL

Or let’s look at it another way. If you could either go to work or enjoy your favourite hobby with a guarantee of no judgement or negative consequences on your decision, what would you choose? Because regardless of effusions, declarations and celebrity interviews, nobody loves their job that much. For most of us – if not all of us – work is something we do to pay for the stuff we need and the things we like.

This applies equally for rock stars and actors and celebrities. They might love being on stage and hanging out with the rich and famous, but their glamorous jobs are primarily aimed at feeding their habits and paying for the homes and cars where they chill after the party.

For example, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton often get paid to attend parties, endorse events, and be beautiful. They even get paid to tweet. But for them to do that, they have to watch what they eat, work out a lot, give up their privacy, and be careful what they say to who. Case in point, despite being photographed every moment of every day, they can’t be seen in the same outfit twice. Some stars can’t even choose what to wear. It’s simply not allowed.

It might be easier for them because they love fashion, but it still can’t be fun to be a living mannequin 24-7. On shows about models, you hear them being reminded that they always have to look good and wear picture-perfect make-up, even on random trips to buy milk. The have glamorous lifestyles and super perks, but I’m sure if they had a choice between posing for photos at a shopping mall, and … oh … I don’t know … actual camera-free shopping, they’d pick the latter.

I’m a writer and I work at an ad agency. That means I get paid to write. Every. Single. Day of my work-life. I’m doing what I love. So … do I love my job? Sometimes. When I hear a spot I wrote on live radio, or walk past a billboard with my tagline on it, I feel pretty good. When I get my pay cheque and use it to buy something my baby wants, I’m ecstatic. When I wear my jeans, sneakers, and backpack to commute with people in suits and handbags, I’m pretty much dancing all the way to work.

But if I was asked to leave my desk right now to go home and sleep, or to sit in a hammock on a beach with a big book and a cold drink, I’d be there in a second, singing hallelujah all the way. For some people, it’s not about lazing around beneath the trees. Maybe you’re running official errands and someone gives you a chance to travel, or party, or play guitar, or dig in your farm, or dance the work-day away. Truth is there will always, always, always be stuff you’d rather be doing than work.

To sit and read

I’m an editor as well , which means my work includes reading other people’s manuscripts and documents. More of doing what I love. But it’s a little bit different when you’re being paid to professionally critique and correct another writer’s work. I’d much rather be reading a novel, or poetry, or my journal, or something that doesn’t need me to compile feedback for my client/boss.

Say you work as a beer/wine/coffee/chocolate/ice cream/hotel room/condom tester. You may well enjoy those particular activities. But when you have a boss waiting on a quality report, when you’re primarily looking for flaws rather than pleasures, when you’re focused on doing the job well rather than enjoying the experience, let’s just say at some point, you’ll wish you were some place else.

So you see, enjoying your fun-time isn’t about the kind of job you have, or how much you earn doing it. Like my ex says, if it was fun, it wouldn’t be called work. I’m sure Nadal, Usain Bolt, or even Mata would rather be shagging than training. It doesn’t mean they hate their million dollar jobs, or that they’re not doing what they love. It just means they’re human, and that no human would rather work than have fun.

Lately I’ve been feeling listless at the office, and I’ve been pretty hard on myself because I have the perfect job (for me), a wonderful salary, no dress code, and easy-going boss. I’ve found myself staring into space and asking, “What the hell is wrong with me?”

I know people who would kill for this job, yet here I am, staring at my open office reflection and wanting to be somewhere else. Mostly at home under my blanket with a good book and no pending briefs. Or on the beach, with a good book and no pending briefs. Or by a beautiful lakeside with a good book and no pending briefs.

Whether you’re a novelist, a porn star, a window cleaner, a rally driver, a chocolate taster, a DJ, or Miss Univerese, there will always be times when you’d rather not be – you know – working. And sometimes, those moments will be many and close together. Because work comes with responsibilities, supervision, expectations, requirements, the kind of thing that never happens when you’re clubbing, or biking, or leisure drinking, or lying at home in bed with nowhere you urgently need to be.

I love my job

This gem of an article on Forbes has some interesting insights on why you shouldn’t be in a rush to, ‘do what you love’:

“I am a writer, but I love sex more than I love writing,” author Penelope Trunk observed a few years ago.  And I am not getting paid for sex…. But I don’t sit up at night thinking, should I do writing or sex? Because career decisions are not decisions about ‘what do I love most?’ Career decisions are about what kind of life do I want to set up for myself.”

Seth Godin once told the story of a gifted friend who took on a draining, grunt role at a record company because music was his bliss.  Godin wondered, rightly, if this friend could have served himself and society better if he worked as a schoolteacher during the day and spent his spare time pursuing his passion.

Your bliss can become hell once it becomes a job. Many a person has loved movies but hated making movies.  Living in Los Angeles, this applies to half my friends.  Even relatively successful writers and actors end up dreading the deadlines and burdens imposed by a career that looks less glamorous in close-up than it did in long-shot.

Even the most fabulous jobs in the world come with a boss and a to-do list. And yes, sometimes your boss is the media, your fans, your customers, or the paparazzi. I guess I’m realising the trouble isn’t the job. It’s the fact that I have a job.

And while earning an income is a trillion times better than being jobless and broke (and hungry and homeless and all that other bad stuff that comes with having no money), there will always be moments when I’d rather be in bed. Best to ride the wave, get my work done, and not give my boss any excuse to withdraw the very thing that pays for said bed.

♫ New Divide ♫ Linkin Park ♫

130 thoughts on “Do what you love … or not

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