As the saying goes: If you love what you do, you will never do a day of work in your life.

More and more we are hearing people tell us to follow our passions. The way to workplace happiness is to do what we love instead of getting a “McJob”. But this isn’t working, just look at how many people are unhappy at work. Look how many people just can’t get a job, let alone their dream job of being a Caribbean Island holiday tester. So I’m going to tell you how I think you can be happier at work.

Is the advice to do what you love correct?

Logically the argument to work your passion is true but practically it doesn’t seem to be working out for most people. Often the people proposing to do what you love are those fortunate few that have made it. The people lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time or to be born with exceptional ability. And the people with this wonderful message never offer practical advice other than persevere. The fact that we hear about the few successes, not the many failures leads to confirmation bias. 

Reality Check

I hate to be a bit of a downer here but I think we need a dose of realism. LA coffee shops are filled with failed actors. Worse, many who successfully followed their passions didn’t achieve happiness. Van Gogh was a great artist but died a poor and tortured soul. Steve Jobs is hailed as an icon and built the worlds largest company. But he didn’t live a particularly happy life. Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson - just a few names of successful, driven people but didn’t live a life of happiness. Arguably their passion prevented them from living normal happy lives. And following your passion has the risk of working the other way. Instead of turning your job into fun, it has the risk of turning your fun into a job!

If you read what Eric Barker says about following your passions - only 4% of passions had something to do with work.

If you can turn your passion into a job, I think you should. And we are all in a better world thanks to the art and technological progress that these exceptional people have contributed (If we can ignore The Hangover 2). It would be very sad not to have people pushing the boundaries.

So if that’s not working then what’s more realistic is following more of a “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you with” approach.

Some work related things that make us happy include:

  • Doing things that have meaning,
  • Making a difference,
  • Growing and developing ourselves,
  • Being acknowledged, 
  • Having a good relationship with the work people we spend time with,
  • Being important to other people,
  • The flexibility to do things the way we want to.

If you can find these in the work that you do then you will find a lot more workplace satisfaction and by extension life happiness.

In my opinion this is more achievable than finding your passion and making a living from it. 

The Bosses Role:

The reason why I think this is relevant to managers is because they are better placed to do these things. When a boss helps their employees to:

  • Find meaning in their work,
  • Feel appreciated and valuable,
  • Have healthy relationships with people around them and,
  • Develop themselves etc.

Then their employees will become happier, more engaged and productive at work. This will lead to an easier job for the manager and more profitable organisations. This is the principal that the Management Sweetspot is based on. And why engaging employees is the most important Manager Superpower. That's why I've made the www.boss.camp program. It shows you how to make work work and get better employee performance in just an hour a week.

And this is where I can offer the “Grand Unified Theory of Passion and Engagement”. Passion is the personal motivational driver. Engagement is the commitment to an organization and its goals. A good manager knows how to use an employees passions to engage them in the organisation.

I think that this is especially true for Gen Y. More than any generation, Gen Y is being told to follow their dreams and managing and motivating Gen Y is extra challenging.

So the key to doing what you love, is to love what you do:

If you know what your passion is and you can turn that into a living. Go for it. But life isn’t always so clear and easy. The key to doing what you love is to love what you do. You can do this by finding value in what you do, growing, building relationships, making a difference. If you are a boss, you have the power to provide job satisfaction to your employees. Providing job satisfaction in the right way leads to higher engagement and better results.


Boss Camp

It’s no secret that most people don’t like work. But imagine if your employees actually liked working hard? It probably sounds too good to be true but it would make your life as a boss a lot better wouldn’t it? That’s why we need to wake up and find a better way to make work work and make managing easy. Join me at WWW.BOSS.CAMP for a better way. The program includes topics such as:

  • How to motivate employees,
  • What are bad employee motivators,
  • What you must do as a manager but isn't on your job description,
  • How leaders get power