Perhaps it is that we humans are a hopeful breed. We desperately want things to be a certain way so we create handy sayings to reinforce that anything’s possible, the sky is the limit, and winners never quit and quitters never win.
In practice, however, we know that winners sometimes quit rather remarkably (Lou Gehrig, for one), and that there are planets and galaxies beyond our Earthly sky, and that it is currently impossible to get from Tokyo to New York in five minutes.
We humans seem to love telling ourselves stuff that we know isn’t true, but sure seems familiar because we’ve heard it said so much.
Like the familiar and conflicting phrase, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
An entire self-help industry has risen around this hopeful, jaunty little untrue phrase and there are armies of gurus who will attack me for challenging the premise.
But that’s not going to stop me.
Let’s split our homey sentence into two parts, shall we? The first: “Do what you love” is absolutely and resolutely correct. When you do what you love, your days rarely feel like work. They feel full, and fulfilling. They feel purposeful and meaningful. Sure, there might be a challenge or two – but they’re fun challenges. They’re knots you actually enjoy untying, and the satisfaction that comes from a challenge well met and solved is like no other.
So, yes, by all means do what you love. Yes, yes, yes and yes.
Now to the whole “money will follow” part.
Let’s imagine for a minute that what you love is… teaching small children how to read. The sense of accomplishment that a five year-old has in mastering the Bob books – of being able to read “Mat sat” and know that Mat actually sat! And then Sam sat! Can you believe it? It’s amazing!
Have you seen the spark in a young child’s eyes just as they understand letters make sounds and sounds make words and words make stories and maybe they can tell stories and suddenly the world flies open for them? It’s a precious and powerful moment of learning.
And it takes talented and gifted teachers to make that learning possible. Teachers who love what they do.
Now, tell me:
How many Pre-kindergarten teachers do you know who make a million dollars from teaching? That’s a lot of money, you say? OK, then, how many Pre-K teachers make six figures? How many of these hard-working, job-loving teachers even make fifty grand?
So, you see, Pre-K teachers do what they absolutely love and yet the money doesn’t follow.
Happiness, however, absolutely does follow.
And that is my entire point. We need to revise our dear old saw to something more accurate, and that revision is:
Do what you love, and the happiness will follow.
And if you are happy enough, believe me, you figure out the money part. You either happily live within your means on the money you make doing the work you love, or you pick up a side hustle which allows you to meet your financial needs.
Sometimes, even, we turn the entire equation on its ear and work a regular job to make the money we need to allow us to do what it is we love. We work as an internist in a medical practice so we can take two months a year to serve Doctors Without Borders.
We do computer coding at night to write a book in the daytime.
Cut back the office job to three days a week to launch a non-profit in the community.
It’s all possible. It’s doable.
As a matter of fact, it’s all being done right this very minute.
People all over the world are right this very minute doing exactly what they love. And complete, utter, joyful happiness follows.