It seems that at least once a year there is a new book touting the idea that you can find work which you will find fulfilling by doing that which you love. The challenge, that most of us seem to find, is that it is difficult to decide what it is we love. Or, in some cases we find that we love so many things, it is hard to narrow the field down.
Here is what I know to be true: It is much easier to sit down to work when the task at hand is something I love to do. My interests are varied and so I may be building a landscaping wall one day and washing our cars the next. I write every day because I love the whole process of creating something from nothing. I do not know if I will ever find a way to sell any of my writing, but it does not factor in when I pick up pen and paper each day.
There are many people who have suggested the value of loving what we do. I really like Gary Zukav’s take on the subject: “When the deepest part of you becomes engaged in what you are doing, when your activities and actions become gratifying and purposeful, when what you do serves both yourself and others, when you do not tire within but seek the sweet satisfaction of your life and your work, you are doing what you were meant to be doing.”
When we can figure out what we love and do it with great energy and commitment, the Universe has no choice but to reward us with success.
I do not know what Ray Bradbury’s spiritual beliefs are but his take on doing what you love is impressive: “Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”
I think his idea that your work needs to be something you live for is very wise. Clearly, that cannot be just your routine job. I think our work must be so important to us that we feel we would not want to live without it.
Steve Jobs reminded us that: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I think the concept that our work must be “great work” which we also love adds a component to this definition which many of the well-known quotes leave out. When we are convinced that the work we are choosing offers the possibility of being great work, however we define that, it has the potential for offering us an additional reason for satisfaction.
Kahlil Gibran said, “Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.” This idea really drives home the concept that our work does not feed us when it is a burden.
Finally, Rumi suggested that we “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
While this may not help if you really cannot figure out what it is that you love to do but it does highlight the fact that many of our wisest teachers have recommended that we do the work to find our answers. It would seem that the rewards of such self-discovery far outweigh the frustrations encountered in such examination.
I will tell you that even if you insist that you have no clue what it is you love, you really do know. Throughout your life you have had moments and hours of epiphanies in which you said to yourself or to friends, “I wish I could find a way to do this for a living.” Even if you have not used those exact words you have spent time which passed at a speed which exceeded reason, or you have heard friends or family offer you advice concerning how you could use your special talents to bless others. Every time you have had one of these experiences, you have been given glimpses into ways in which you could use your gifts to do great works.
I will close with one last thought, this time from Natalie Goldberg: “Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.”