Is “Do What You Love” Bad Career Advice?

By Graduate Recruitment Bureau

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“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” – is this bad advice?

The short answer is: yes.

Now don’t get me wrong. You need to have goals and dreams, because otherwise what’s the point? But the notion that finding a job that pays you to do one of your favourite things is not actually a job? Rubbish. A job is a job. Lizzi Hart of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau discusses...

Why is this bad advice?

Imagine your favourite hobby - be it blogging, cooking, horse-riding or coding – it’s a hobby because it’s what you enjoy doing in your free time. As most peoples’ free time is fairly limited, you’ll probably only spend a few hours a week doing these enjoyable things. But if these hobbies became a job, you’d be doing them for 8+ hours every day and they may no longer be fun. Then what will you do in your spare time?

This common piece of ‘career advice’ should really be more like: ‘Try and find a job that you enjoy’ – sadly the poetic prowess is lost, but you get the gist.

Can you ever love what you do?

I think the main distinction to make here is what you want from life: money or happiness? You can have both if you manage to balance everything, but one of them will have to take priority when deciding on a career.

If you’d choose happiness then of course you want to find a job that makes you happier than a career based on its monetary value. But that still doesn’t mean you’ll be drifting through life with no worries – and that job will still be fairly job-like. 

If you’d opt for money as your driving force, then you may well be surprised. Having to hit targets in order to generate the higher pay that this avenue offers should fill you with a great sense of achievement and pride. You might have applied to the job expecting to dislike the work and love the salary, but it isn’t always so black and white – work can be enjoyable.

You could even compare this to your degree choice at University. Did you study something that you enjoyed? If yes, are you using those skills now? If no, do you wish you’d done something more enjoyable? But now think would you easily be able to find a job?

How can you strike a balance?

Since I was young girl, I’ve always wanted to write – for pleasure and for a living. I planned my degree course accordingly, and spent hours on unpaid writing for various websites to boost my experience (which I still do now). My soon-to-be graduate career is also due to be heavily writing-based. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like work. When I spend all day writing for money, it’s particularly difficult to motivate myself to write for pleasure in the evenings. I’m not saying I’ve lost my love for the written word, but by using my previous passion for career purposes, it does feel a little tainted.

I do often find myself thinking “I love what I do”, but sometimes I do think “This is boring; I can’t be bothered”. I’m sure this rings true for a lot of you, and maybe the latter thought is far more prominent. It’s the tedium of repetitive tasks alongside the knowledge that you have to do these things and meet deadlines in order to get paid – you are no longer on your own agenda.

Now I’m not saying that I’ve found the right balance yet, but just like everything in life, it’s a learning curve. I heavily encourage you to try and find a career that you’ll love, but just be careful.

Some words of warning

If you are currently striving to find a job that encompasses your hobbies and passions, you may be left feeling dissatisfied with what you already have – the grass isn’t always greener.  Plus, that ‘dream job’ that you have in mind for the future may not live up to your expectations. Think of all those big name brands that you’d love to work for. If you do actually manage to get a job with one, how do you know what it’ll really be like? Sometimes the best jobs are ones that you least expect.

So think twice before listening to this piece of ‘career’ advice, because once you find that perfect job, you will still be working and that still isn’t enough according to this mantra.


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