Do Work You Love: The Ultimate Guide to Making it a Reality
I was hot, sweaty and unbelievably tired (Insert sexual innuendo here).
I was landscaping and had spent the last 14 hours pulling weeds, trimming edges and mowing lawns and I was suppose to do a workout when I got home. Fuck that.
It was the summer of 2011 and I was miserable.
Yes, I was making way more money than the previous summer and was able to spend time outside, but I was working a job that was an utter bore. Every Monday was the same, every Tuesday was the same, every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were the same. I had the same rotating schedule of houses and businesses to landscape at each week – the same exact schedule. Not to mention that I worked with a crew leader who was notorious for taking more time than necessary for every job we did. I’d arrive at work a little before 7 a.m. and while most landscaping crews were headed home at 4 or 5 the crew I was on typically headed home closer to 7 at night.
On top of all that, I was still playing college football, so after getting home at 7 I still had to go through the summer workout program. Let me just say that you don’t have the greatest workouts after 12 hours of landscaping – go figure.
After that particularly long and tiring 14 hour day I made a decision – After that summer I would never again spend ridiculous amount of time doing things I didn’t love doing. I trudged along, finished out the summer of landscaping and never went back.
A New Direction
In the spring of 2012, still needing a job for summer (I was heading into my senior year of college), I became certified as a personal trainer, bought the domain name justgofitness.com and built my website for free on Weebly – Just Go Fitness was born!
I found my first client through craigslist and starting training him at his apartment gym the first week of summer.
I can still remember how I felt driving home after our first session. It was a warm, sunny day, I was smiling ear to ear and I knew that THIS is what I was meant to do – help people become a better version of themselves. THIS was what excited me and gave me a real sense of purpose in the world, not pulling weeds and cutting grass.
Tim Ferriss, the author of The Four Hour Workweek as well as two other bestsellers, had a great quote in the book which stuck with me to this day:
The opposite of happiness isn’t sadness – it’s boredom.
The summer I spent landscaping I was bored as hell. The summer after? One of the best I’ve ever had.
At the time of writing this I work as a personal trainer at the Wisconsin Athletic Club, train clients at their homes in the Milwaukee area, have an online course helping people all around the world get fit, speak for various groups of people on health and wellness and write on this blog to influence people to take action for a better life. I’m happy. In the game of life if you’re happy, you win. Do work you love and it’s amazing how much happier and more fulfilled you’ll be.
Let me make something clear – I’m no expert on finding work you love to do. Hell, I don’t know what qualifications an “expert” would even have. However, I like to think I enjoy life more than the average person and what has worked for me can help you. Though I now put in many more hours than I ever did landscaping, they are spent on things I love doing and that makes all the difference.
Why Make A Change?
There’s an awesome blog out there called Live Your Legend and I first discovered it a couple of years ago by watching the video below:
Scott Dinsmore, the author of the site and the guy in the video has a simple slogan on the site: “Change the world by doing work you love.”
Why should you make a change? Why should you do work you love? Scott has a quote on his site from Howard Thurman that answers those questions and I’d have to agree:
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
Your time on this earth is limited – Too short to waste time doing things you hate.
Wait, So I Have To Quit My Job?
No. You don’t have to do anything in life, but there is an opportunity cost for all your actions. That is, choosing to do anything means you are giving up alternatives.
What’s the opportunity cost of doing work you don’t love?
The joy, happiness and fulfillment you would get from doing work you love. Not to mention how everything about your life could improve. Think about this, how often does work spill into your personal life? I’m not talking about having to do some work at home or out of the office, I’m talking about the emotional toll – a bad mood, irritability – you know, stuff that leads to relationships suffering and an altogether shitty life. I’m not about that life.
By doing work you love, things change. Life improves and becomes, dare I say it, FUN. You can look forward to each day instead of dreading it and it becomes much easier to have a positive mindset and optimism about life.
I’ve been asked many times how I get up so early every morning and my response is always similar – I love what I do. It would be much more difficult to wake up at 4 in the morning if instead of training clients, writing or working on my business I was doing something I would hate, like, oh I don’t know, this:
So, besides wondering how anybody becomes an armpit sniffer, you may also be thinking – This do work you love thing sounds good in theory, but I have to pay the bills, I have kids, I’ve been working at my job too long to quit, I don’t have any skills, I don’t know where to start, I’m too young and inexperienced, yada, yada, yada. All valid points. Hell, I could tell you a thousand reasons not to change what you’re doing. But there is only one reason you need to make a change – your happiness. Remember, if you’re happy doing what you’re doing, you win. Yes, you have to pay the bills and take care of your family if you have one, but why can’t you accomplish all of that by doing something you love? I’ll show you some examples later on of people who are doing work they love and living amazing lives, but first I need you to ask yourself this question:
Am I living up to my full potential doing what I’m currently doing?
If you answered yes, great! Keep living life and enjoy it to the fullest!
If you answered no, something has to change.
How To Do Work You Love: Getting Started
Where do you start if you’re unhappy with your current job? Should you tell your boss to “shove it” and then do this:
Eh, that’s probably not your best option. Before you quit your job and venture out in a completely new direction think about this: Is it the actual work you are doing that you don’t love or is it the company you’re working for that you don’t love?
If I had worked for a different landscaping company where I didn’t consistently work 11 or 12 hour days maybe I wouldn’t have the same hatred for landscaping – who knows.
You might actually enjoy the work you are doing, but simply are working for the wrong company. That’s fine, do a little research on that thing called GOOGLE and see if there are some alternatives that would be more appealing to you. Maybe all you need is a change of scenery, not a completely new career. Hell, maybe you just need to find a slightly different position within the same company and you’d love doing that. I’m not sure of your exact situation, but I know you have lots of options.
If you know it’s not just the current company you work for that is making you unhappy, you can answer the following questions to begin to find what kind of work you’d actually enjoy doing:
1. What excites you?
Inspiring others to live better, traveling, working with passionate people – these are some of the things that excite me. What excites you? What would make you jump out of bed each morning excited to start the day? Okay, maybe you aren’t a morning person, I get that, so let me rephrase that – What would make you excited to live another day? Is it working with a non-profit to end world hunger? Is it nursing sick animals back to health? Is it coming up with marketing plans for a company? Is it fixing up broken down cars?
Start brainstorming and think of as many ideas as you can. Think about a variety of jobs that you’d be excited to do on a daily basis and remember, this is the idea phase – you just need some options – don’t worry about being realistic. To help you even more, write down your response to the following question:
2. What would you do if money was no issue?
Yes, you need money – I understand that. Let’s just for a second forget all that. What would you actually do if money was not an issue? Sure, some people would say “I’d go and sit at the beach all day” or “I’d go shopping for all the latest fashion.” You may enjoy things like that for a while, weeks or months even, but ultimately you’d get bored and do something else – What would it be?
Use your answers to this question to as options for what you’d actually want to do. You should be able to think of at least a few different ideas if you approach finding work you love in this way.
3. What skills do you have?
By this point you’ll have a few options to do work you love, but an important part of making this a reality is to think about the skills you currently have and how you could use them.
For me, being knowledgeable about fitness, personable and self-motivated made the selection of my next job easy – becoming a certified personal trainer was the obvious choice – and I created my own in-home training business.
What skills do you have? Are you good with people? Do you like working alone or with other people? What topics do you know a lot about? Are you an amazing cook? Are you a great leader? Do you stay more organized than anyone else you know? Are you a master communicator?
There are hundreds of different skills you could have – finding out yours and using them to do work you love is the key.
How you’ll use the skills you have depends greatly on what type of person you are and the type of setting you wan to work in, which brings us to the next question:
4. Do you want to work for yourself or someone else?
You have three options to think about when deciding what work you’ll do: Work for someone else, work for yourself or do a combination of the two. Each option has its pros and cons of course, but let’s dabble in the idea of working for someone else first.
Working for Someone Else
- Regular income, if still employed of course
- Free training (Through the company)
- Instant network of people in your field
- Opportunity to learn systems and tricks from the company
- Not as secure as it once was – You can get fired
- Little leverage for bigger things – bound by company rules
- You spend your time building someone else’s assets, not your own
- Your pay has a ceiling (Sure, if it’s a sales job it may not be, but you know what I mean)
Are you destined to work for someone else the rest of your life? There is nothing wrong with working for someone else – many people do it and are happy – but working for yourself also has some unique benefits. Of course, it does come with its drawbacks as well.
Working for Yourself
- You’re building assets for yourself – now and in the future
- No cap in income
- More variety, creativity, possibility
- No set hours – When does the work day end? (Could be a pro or con depending on how you look at it)
- Increased pressure – You have to perform or you don’t eat.
- Loneliness – No coworkers (Unless you hire people down the road or team up with someone else)
Working for someone else and working for yourself are two very different things, but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The third option you have is to combine the two – work for someone else while also doing work on your own.
You may love doing multiple things, maybe the variety is what you crave, so why not delve in two fields? The goal is to do work you love, right? There is no rule that says you can’t do two different things. Working on something outside of your normal 9-5 is possible and starting to do work you love part time is a great way to find what you actually love doing. I’ll show you some examples a little later.
You know the options you have for who you’ll work for, but how do you know which option is for you? First, let me say this right away – Everyone isn’t fit to be an entrepreneur. While there are plenty examples of entrepreneurs who have succeeded there are also many more who didn’t (By the way, just to clarify, I’ll use the term entrepreneur for anyone working for themselves).
If you are independent, self-motivated and have a Spartacus-like hatred for authority, working for yourself may be your best option. If not, no biggie, you can work for someone else.
Personally, I’m a strong believer in this message from Farrah Gray:
Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.
The choice is yours.
5. Who is doing the work you want to do?
After going through the first four questions it’s time to start doing some research around those interests. Are there people doing what you want to do? If so, how did they get where they are? What path did they take? What books did they read? Who do they know? What do they know that you don’t? Research these people and the potential careers to figure out if these could be viable options for you. Reach out to these people and ask them about their job directly – might as well go right to the source.
While some jobs might sound cool, would they actually be something you’d enjoy doing on a day to day basis? Remember, if you’ll be doing this type of work for 20, 30 or 40 years are you going to enjoy it? Are you going to love it? Sure, your interests may change over time, but having some idea of your long term vision is important too.
It’s important to know that although going through these questions can point you in the right direction to do work you love, this is a journey – It will take some time. Enjoy the process, try different activities and reach out to as many people as you can for guidance.
Your Side Chick… or Guy: When the Work You Love Isn’t Your Main Squeeze
For some, you’ll keep your current job, but start doing some things you love on the side, setting yourself up for an eventual departure later if you choose. If finances are an issue, you may end up staying at your current job a while – you know, until you’re as unhappy as a bro without his post-workout shake. Taking this route is great and you’ll still have consistent income from your current job while you’re creating your dream career on the side.
One of my training clients, Hannah, is doing just that. When she’s not working as a special education teacher, she’s creating one of a kind accessories and decor for people’s homes and selling them through Etsy and Craigslist. Her dream is to do it full time and I believe she’ll be able to soon enough (Check out some of her recent pieces).
My best friend, Zach (Pictured below), is another slightly different example. He is also doing work he loves – creating amazing piano videos on YouTube and teaching other people how to play piano t00 – but he started while still in school. Like Hannah, he’s generating income from doing work he loves, but it’s not his full-time job quite yet. Again, I’m confident it’ll happen soon.
Doing freelance work is a safe route to getting started with doing work you love while still keeping your current job and there is a world of opportunity. My friend Lena, for example, does freelance photography (Check out her beautiful pics!) while also working on a digital marketing team for another company. However, freelance photography isn’t your only option. You can also do freelance work as a graphic designer, web developer, online marketer, writer, producer, teacher and more. Websites like Fiverr, Elance and Etsy give you the flexibility to do any type of work imaginable – allowing you to do work you love regardless of what that may be for you.
If you don’t decide to jump ship right away, aren’t looking to do any freelance work, but still want to work towards a new career some other options would be:
- Start taking night classes in the field you are interested in
- Begin a certification program in your desired field (Like a personal trainer certification, for example)
- Attend conferences, meet ups and any other social events based on your career interests to start forming connections
Choosing to keep your current job and do work you love part-time – nights and weekends perhaps – is your choice, but remember this:
Doing work you love part-time is better than doing work you love no-time.
Your Main Squeeze: Abandoning Ship and Doing Work You Love Full-Time
Making the choice to completely change careers and do work you love full-time is a bold move. If you’re going this route it’s a smart move to have a wee bit of dinero in the bank. Quitting a job without some sort of plan is a recipe for disaster. Better yet, it’s just plain dumb. However, if you’re miserable at your current job, it’s completely worth it to make a switch to a job you love. The joy and fulfillment you’ll get from doing work you love will spill over into other areas of your life and then you’ll really be winning.
My friend and co-worker Meena is one of those people made that jump – switching careers completely. The result? She’s happier working as a personal trainer than she ever was doing direct marketing and public relations work.
Anther friend of mine, Anthony, made the switch from network marketing and now is an entrepreneur hustling his face off to help others grow their businesses, primarily though his YouTube show #MinayaTalk.
Depending on your current situation, switching careers completely may be the best option for you. You can use job search websites, GOOGLE and leads from friends or acquaintances to actually find jobs, but if you’re one of those entrepreneur types, the type that simply can’t work for someone else, you won’t partake in the typical job search process.
Entrepreneurs have a simple job – Solve a problem people have. Your job search involves figuring out what problem it is you’d like to solve. Remember how you took inventory of the skills you have? Well, how can those skills be used to solve a problem someone has? You can do research to find problems that need to be solved or simply think of a problem you have in your daily life. What annoys you on a daily basis? What would make your life easier? Can you make that product?
Sell something that someone else needs. Provide value to other people and you’ll be rewarded. Zig Ziglar, an amazing motivational speaker, had a great quote to illustrate the essential task of an entrepreneur:
You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.
So, what are you going to do? How are you going to provide value? The entrepreneurial road is by no means easy, but many people have proven it can be done – in nearly every type of business imaginable.
In his book, The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau profiles entrepreneurs in a variety of industries who are doing work they love, here are a few:
- Michael Hanna – Mattress Lot
- Sarah Young – Happy Knits
- Benny Lewis – Fluent in 3 Months
- Megan Hunt – Custom Dresses
- Jessica Reagan Salzman – Heart Based Bookkeeping
- Patrick Mccrann – Endurance Nation
- Jaden Hair – Steamy Kitchen
- Barbara Varian – V6 ranch
- Scott Mcmurren – Alaska TravelGram
- John Morefield – The 5-Cent Architect
These are just a few of the many! Anything is possible – How hard are you willing to work? Doing work you love doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Worth it? Very much so.
Parting Words and Well-Wishes
In the end, deciding to do work you love comes down to this – What value do you place on your happiness? Are you going down a career path just for the money? Will that really lead to more happiness? How much money do you need to make to survive and be happy?
Look, I get it, you need money. I also understand that many people are too comfortable in their current job to make a switch. They may not love it, but they don’t hate it either. Their job pays the bills and they enjoy their time away from work. They only look forward to weekends and dread Mondays – This shouldn’t be anyone’s reality.
When I decided that I would never landscape again after that summer it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Never again have I worked at a job doing something I didn’t love and you know what? I’m happy. I’m helping people on a daily basis and making a difference in people’s lives.
Regardless of what work you decide to do, there is something you need to know – Your health matters. Too many people disregard their health along the path to career success – I see them at the gym all the time – successful people whose health is in shambles. Don’t let this happen to you. Prioritize your health. After all, it’s difficult to do work you love if you’re buried 6 feet underground.
To get help with getting your health where it should be, check out my top posts or contact me directly with your questions. Also, remember to subscribe so you never miss a post of mine and hit me up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Best of luck on your journey,