Loving what you do VS doing what you love
Make a living out of doing what you love! I have heard this sage advice on many occasions – but in fact, I do not necessarily agree that it is the way to go! My own philosophy is actually different, and it has served me well so far – I hope it will serve you equally well.
There are several problems with making a living by just doing what you love; I have seen these problems manifest in the martial arts and I have seen them manifest in other occupations.
It’s a typical story; someone starts out daydreaming about making a living from his or her hobby. Perhaps they practise martial arts, perhaps they fly-fish; but one day, after an Anthony Robbins course or after a particularly bad day at work, they make the decision; their life will be perfect, if they can just find a way to turn their part-time hobby or passion, into a way of earning a full-time wage. Suddenly things take a turn; the bills start pouring in, they begin to realise that it’s one thing to participate in an activity for the pure joy of it and quite another to ask others to pay you for facilitating their participation in the activity. It’s one thing to wander along a river, fly-rod in hand, chatting to a life-long friend and scanning the water for a rising trout but quite another thing entirely to walk the same river, with a client whose expectations are not only unrealistic but whose skills are simply not up to the task at hand. Time goes by, one day rolls into the next and before he knows it, our passionate hobbyist is beginning to hate the very thing he once loved. I have seen this metamorphosis unfold countless times – and it is truly tragic. Strange, because on the surface of things, it seems that doing what we love doing three times a week, should just be all that much better if we did it six days a week. But in my experience, it rarely turns out like that.
I subscribe to a different philosophy and it is this – instead of doing what you love, switch the focus around and love what you do. For me, this goes to the very core of what it means to be happy. The great thong about training ourselves to love what we do, to find joy in what we do, to take pride in what we do, is that it is a skill that we can carry with us, all the way through our lives.
If we focus only on doing what we love, we shouldn’t be surprised when the thing that we love begins to look a little different a year down the track; we shouldn’t be surprised upon realising that the thing that once rejuvenated us seems to now be sucking the energy from our every waking moment. On the other hand, if we cultivate the habits of being fully engaged in the works we are already doing, in finding ways to wring joy and fulfilment out of what we are doing, we can, as the saying goes, ‘have our cake and eat it too!’
‘Love what you do’ is something I learned a long time ago; but it is also something that has been re-impressed upon me on the mat. If we just do what we love on the mat, we restrict our development and the experience can eventually become the same ‘ol same ‘ol - but if instead, we love what we do, then the experience can give us joy and fulfilment, irrespective of what is happening on the mat; it all becomes fun, we find challenge and fun no matter what we are working on at the time and no matter what the outcomes of our efforts. Learn to love what you do – it’s one of the true secrets to real happiness!