There's a bit of irony surrounding the state of our society and how it views work, careers, and success. Over the course of the last several decades, we've witnessed an unparalleled series of technological advancements that have given us devices, widgets, and now commodities which were once vaguely associated with "the future". Technology, starting with sticks and stones back when we lived in caves, exists for one essential purpose-to enhance and ease the burden of our day to day lives. The irony is that in spite of the fact that we live in an incredibly tech saturated world, our lives are as difficult and complicated as ever. Sure, we're not living in caves and rubbing sticks together for heat, but the principle is that there is still an overpowering sense of unrest.
This "failure to launch", primitive mentality largely extends to how we approach work and how we make our living. From day one, we seem to be indoctrinated with a value that is arguably outdated. In a word, it goes something like this: "It's called work for a reason". This mentality is wrong for a number of reasons. It's beyond the scope of this article to provide a method or play-by-play to get you out of your job and into a position where you love your work, but there's an ocean of books written on the topic, so rest assured that instruction is out there. Below is an outline of why doing a job or finding a way to make a living doing something you enjoy logically overpowers this faulty, knee-jerk, neanderthal approach to work.
Quality of Work is Better
It's difficult to argue the reasoning behind any of these elements, and this is the big one. Many of us in the workforce have questioned at some point why we have difficulty focusing our efforts at work, and whether there is something that needs to be addressed, maybe even at a clinical level. But then, without fail, the weekend rolls around and you find yourself in your woodshed experimenting with different dovetail joint techniques or at your computer plowing through endless forums about guitar pickup configurations, only to look at the clock and realize you've been at it for 8 hours. The issue at your 9-5 isn't you. It's what you're doing.
We're programmed from the day we're born to absorb, synthesize, apply, and discover information and we do it for good reason. A long, long time ago, it was either we learn or our survival in jeopardy. Somehow we've managed to adopt a paradigm that this pursuit of understanding what fascinates, excites, and stimulates us is acceptable, but it's irresponsible or too difficult or impractical to ever expect to be paid for it, so I'll just do it on the side in my own free time.
This is a shame. Chances are excellent that if you enjoy what you do for the sake of enjoyment, then you're good at it, or at least have the ability to become good at it. There's often a relationship between aptitude and enjoyment. Not always, but often.
People Who Enjoy their Work Make More Significant Contributions
Written into our nature is a tendency to pursue our own interests. The other side of the coin is that although we may be getting paid to produce something that furthers someone else's interest (an employer), ultimately, that party's interest is still secondary to our own. Consider the first few weeks of your job, or just starting out in your career. You were likely enthusiastic, proactive, and hard changed. Most of us are when we feel like we're making an impact. At some point or another, that enthusiasm is chipped away at by the innocuous, progressive sense that the impact you were making isn't so significant after all. Perhaps when you started your chosen path was something you enjoyed, but something changed and now what used to energize you now only drains your energy and time.
Flip the coin back over, and you have what still holds your interest and is still capable of stimulating your mind and efforts. By virtue of your efforts and the raw amount of time you spend doing something you enjoy, it's likely that you'll give back to your field more than if you were simply doing a job. What's the incentive to be creative or proactive in a 9-5 position that bores you to tears? What's the incentive to be creative and proactive in your passion? Should you seek out a job that allows you to work in the field of your choice, the answers are many. Should you toil and strain to find a way to monetize your passion yourself, the reasons are legion.
By Doing Work You Love, You're Likely to be Helping Others
Say you're exhausted by the thought of another day in forensic accounting, and are counting the hours until your next voluntary music-therapy for the elderly session. By ditching the bookkeeping job and undertaking a music therapy degree or independent service, you've just opened up the opportunity for a passionate forensic accountant to advance. By moving away from something you do just to pay the bills and into a field you enjoy helps others by default, even passively.
This is a bit of a bleed over of quality of work, but doing something you enjoy allows people to experience the product of your passion, that may not have ever existed. Put another way, staying at a job you hate not only drains you, but also robs others of the opportunity of experiencing what contributions you otherwise would have made.
Sometimes it's necessary to do a job in the interest of paying the bills. That's a inevitable fact of adulthood. What's incredible is how prevalent the belief that work has to be a dreadful experience. Logic rules that happy people do better work, produce more significant results, and help others by producing what wasn't previously available. Why then does our collective approach to work try to contradict that logic?