Is “do what you love the money will follow” a bunch of new age crap?

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300512_coins198576_euros_11 I was having a conversation with a good friend the other day about choosing a work situation that was vastly more interesting than the drugery she was currently doing.  She said:

"I know that I am really burned out on the work that I am doing with my current company.  But I know that I need to keep making good money so that I can put my girls through college and save enough for retirement.  I am afraid that by the time I can afford to do work I really want, I will be too old to enjoy it."

I firmly believe that you can get paid to do work you love.  However, the process of making it happen requires a lot of work, research, and practice. Think about it as if you were learning a new sport.  Let’s say you wanted to take up tennis for the first time. You have two possible approaches:

Approach #1:  Declare:  I think I would love to be an excellent tennis player! 

  • Do nothing else.  Challenge an experienced player to a match and hope that you win, even though you have never picked up a racket before.

Approach #2:  Declare:  I think I would love to be an excellent tennis player!

  • Research the local tennis market.  Identify where you can take lessons in your local area.
  • Visit a number of schools.  Observe the instructors with students and see if you relate to their teaching style.  Talk to each one and interview them.
  • Borrow or rent the required equipment.  Do not invest in expensive gear until you have had a chance to see if you truly like it or not.
  • Go to your local Park and Recreation and practice hitting the ball against the wall.
  • Take lessons from your carefully screened instructor.
  • Invite a friend that plays tennis to hit the ball around with you.
  • Practice.
  • Search the web for tennis-related sites.
  • Go to the library and check out any tennis-related books that interest you.
  • Practice some more.
  • Once you get better, join a local recreation league or invite friends to play with you on a regular basis.
  • Play a lot.
  • Practice some more.
  • Ask yourself "after all of this research, practice and playing, do I have any real talent to play tennis?  Most importantly, do I enjoy doing it?  If the answer is yes, you are on your way to becoming an excellent tennis player.

You CAN make good money doing work that you love.  But in order to do so, you will need to carefully research your field of interest to find out where the money is, learn from great mentors and coaches, read and surf the web voraciously, and get yourself out there in front of people in your field to show what you have got.  This takes time, patience and practice.  You may find when you are testing out the real work that it isn’t as interesting as you thought it would be.  This is good!  Now get on with testing out another great idea.  Sooner or later, you will find yourself in the happy state of doing work you love and getting paid well for it.

5 Responses to “Is “do what you love the money will follow” a bunch of new age crap?”

  1. Beth says:

    I realize this post is old, but it’s a topic I’ve been thinking about lately.

    What can you do if your passion and what you are good at is a service that is appreciated by others, but most want or expect it for free (or practically free… because since you love what you’re doing, you should give it as more or less a public service), or there are few who think they want/need the service? So there is limited income doing it (at least in my neck of the woods).

    In other words, it feels to be your natural calling and passion, and you are very good at it (or so you are told), and it feels good when you do it (it truly does). It makes you feel like life is soooooo worth living when you’re doing it (or even just thinking about it), and people who do hire you tell you how extremely helpful and meaningful your service for them. Still, they’re not willing (or able) to pay (adequately) for the service, so doing it doesn’t pay enough to get you much above the poverty level (which is really not a satisfying way to live). I don’t need to be ‘rich’, I just need to be financially secure so as to not fear becoming a bag lady and homeless on the street.

    How can someone like me make their passion pay?

  2. True Black says:

    Great post Pam, as usual.

    I think this statement appears because people take it too literally. If we all did what we loved and expected to get rich, there would be a lot of people watching movies, climbing mountains, reading novels, and playing computer games all day wondering “Why is the money now dropping on me like manna from heaven?”

    I always guide clients who want to switch to a new career in the same direction you took us with this post. Figure out something you might like to do, learn a lot about it, do it in some form or fashion, even part time, and then decide if that’s it. The criteria should be (1) It’s something you have a strong passion for (2) You’re better at it than most people (3) there are enough people out there who want to pay you to do it or make it.

    “Do what you love and the money will follow” is not a pipe dream. But it should read “Do what you love, work your ass off, learn how to sell yourself, and the money will follow.”

  3. V says:

    No! It is totally true, but it comes about as Pam says: slowly. My example is a lady I used to ride horses with. She was an accountant in real life, but rode whenever she got a chance. Then, when someone asked her to teach them, she did, just as a favor, then another person asked, and then her work slowed down dramatically, then someone else asked her to train their horse for them, . . . now, two maybe three years later, she is making close enough to what she made before AND spends her day doing what she loves: being around horses. Plus, to add insult to injury for the rest of us, she weighs what a teenager weighs so she and daughter will look great in the college graduation picture they’ll be in two years from now! She was brave, honored her preferences and created (and grabbed) opportunities for herself. One day, maybe I’ll be like her.

  4. andy says:

    yes it is new age crap. i know from experience. i do what i love and the money has not followed. and it won’t. proceed with caution.

  5. I don’t know about “do what you love” or the related “you can be anything you want to be”. I do know that you can only be engaged and fulfilled by working in alignment with your talents. Often you discover your talents through doing something you love, and it’s important to separate the activity and the talent. If you engage in an activity and lose all track of time, that’s an indicator that you have found your Human Sigma. Try to find the essence of what you were doing at that time so you can apply the same talent theme in a different context.
    The best way to find your talent themes is to find a coach who is able to take you through the Clifton StrengthsFinder. In this assessment you will find your top 10 to 12 talent themes in rank order and also your bottom 15 talent themes. The plan forward from there is to only develop the talents you are strongest in, and them move what you do at work to gradually be focussed on using those talents. Do not try to improve your weak areas. Get people on your team who are strong in the talent themes you are weak in.