Take a look at the title of this story. Do you love your job? And what to do if you answered "no." You probably think I'm going to tell you to quit your job and find the one that you love, right? Wrong. Do NOT quit your job just because you don't love it. Instead... read on.
I can honestly tell you that I've never had a job that I loved. Not very many people have. But I have met a few people for which that is true. And I don't mean like. I mean they honestly LOVE what they do.
I used to work at a vacuum store. [Insert obvious joke about how that job sucked here.] I started out just in the office, and eventually made my way onto the sales floor as well. And I definitely enjoyed that job. I liked it. I LIKED it. The people I worked for were incredibly nice, we got along great, they treated me well, and it was a lot of fun (believe it or not). But I can't say that vacuum cleaners are my passion. And for a while, I didn't really believe they were my boss's, either. It was a locally owned business that he inherited from his father; and truthfully, I believed that he felt obligated to keep it going. He would show up before anyone else got there, and leave after everyone else left. He was a hard worker, as most business owners are.
One night, after he had spent several hours in his office going over the year-end books, I heard him make his way to the workshop area, where we repaired and cleaned up our customer's older vacuums. And there he was, taking apart someone's machine and wiping it down, whistling away, looking like he didn't have a care in the world. This is what he was doing to unwind! He loved his job.
I remember thinking that I wanted to find something that made me that happy and carefree. I saw the look on his face as he cleaned the vacuum, and wanted the same look on my face. I currently work selling office supplies. I also really like this job, but like is not love.
What Do I Love?
When I ask myself what I love, it's a real toss up. I love a lot of things. I love writing, I love doing stand-up comedy, I love making music, I love doing theatre... And really, if I had put my mind to it, I could have made a career out of any of those things. I even went to university to study theatre (back when I was young and naive about these things). So how do I narrow it down?
Someone told me once that in order to find your dream career, you had to imagine what would make you want to work for 80 hours a week, and curse the fact that there weren't more hours in the day. Something that instead of leaving you tired and drained, left you energized and pumped, ready for more. Something that feeds your soul.
One day, I was out for a hike with my camera, taking pictures of everything I could think of. I remember seeing how the light played through the leaves, and getting close-ups of branches and twigs, things that most people would just walk by and not notice. The smallest details stood out to me, and they were beautiful. It was dark by the time I got home. I loaded the hundreds of photos onto my computer and spent another few hours looking through them.
I met another photographer, who had come to take promotional shots of a play I was in at the theatre, and I was entranced by his equipment. We talked about cameras and photography every chance we got. Every time I got offstage, I would follow him around like a little duckling, soaking in everything he was saying. I even started going with him on shoots.
I Think I've Got It
It sort of fell into my lap, to be honest. It wasn't something I had considered I would ever do. But soon I was taking lessons from my photographer friend. Then I started learning editing. I began sharing my photos, and people loved them. Next thing you know, I had my own website, and people were booking me for events! And here I am, a photographer. A freelancer. A solopreneur. I realized what my dream looks like: me as my own boss, doing what I love to do. And what I love to do is create beautiful things for people to share and enjoy, and to keep precious memories alive.
BUT! I still work in a store selling office supplies. Here's where we find out what to do if your answer was "no." Like I said, don't quit your job. Find a way to transition. Find a way to start your journey to something that you love. I found a steady, full-time job to pay my bills and buy my equipment with, one that I don't hate. I do photography and grow my business on the side. I do have future plans to grow my business more, and take it in bigger and better directions, but until I start earning more there than I am at my day job. I'm safer where I am.
So let me break it down for you. I asked you if you love your job. You probably said no, and that's totally okay! Most people don't. So here are the steps to take.
- Figure out what it is that you do love. (This is honestly the hardest step, and takes a lot of introspection, so do what works for you: journaling, meditation, making lists, talking it out, etc.)
- Find something that you don't hate to support you in the meantime. This means finding a job that doesn't make you want to slip arsenic in your own morning coffee, or staple your boss's tie to his forehead.
- Just start. Make it happen. Do you need to take a class? Then take it. Do you need to buy some equipment? Start saving, and shopping around. Do you need to visit your local business association for tips and advice? Get in touch with them! Once you know what makes your heart sing, you'll be able to figure out where to go from there. I believe in you!
- Plan your transition. You might be at your "don't-hate" job for a few years while you grow your plan. Don't quit your day job until you can support yourself AND SUPPORT YOUR GROWTH on your own. You don't want to leave when you're just treading water, either. You need to be able to swim the distance! Be prepared for busy, full days, a lot of legwork, and late nights. It'll be like working two jobs for a while, but in the long run, it will be worth it.
You've got this. I know you do.