Don’t do what you love? Do what you are good at

This is a topic that has been around in my Facebook and Twitter stream forever, it comes up in discussions with colleagues and friends, there are countless youtube videos about it, including the most famous one, which is probably Steve Jobs “don’t settle” speech: “Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your live!”

Sounds great. Once you find and follow your passion, your workday will not feel like work anymore but be light, effortless, full of fun and joy. Therefore, many people that have been content previously, start wondering “what is my purpose?”, “what is my vision?, “what is my passion?” and if you do not have an immediate answer then you probably better start looking for it, because life is short and every day not spent doing what you love is wasted forever. You notice something? Statements like these start building a lot of pressure on people. And it pushes the blame to them: If you don’t absolutely love what you do, maybe you just did not try hard enough. You better get going…

For quite some time I feel like “do what you love” is the wrong path, because you will probably never have a job that feels superfun and entirely fulfilling at the same time, all the time.

One idea that changed that for me was the idea of “I do what I am good at”. I noticed that the better I became at a task, job, or skill, the more fun it was. Sometimes I enjoy doing stupid, repetitive work, because I love the feeling, when it is done and I do not have to be creative all the time. When I was working as a UX Designer and I was kind of frustrated with the present project, because I had to design 404-pages, logout screens, and error dialogues, I came across a video that said: “UX designers are crazy about improving the world – one screen at a time.”

The part “one screen at a time” really resonated with me. Because even if an error page is not the most important thing, when I work on it, it will turn out to be better than it was before. And this was the thing that I could contribute. I am good at user experience design, because I have been doing it for years, and because I am creating good concepts, my clients are happy, and the results are improving something for them.

So whenever the thought of finding the one thing that you love and are totally passionate about, is too overwhelming, think about what you are good at. Sometimes you just have to do the work. And just because it gets done, it feels satisfying.

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