Should you do what you love, or what you're good at?

A very thought-provoking piece, here, about a question that's been haunting me all my life.

We’re doing people an incredible disservice by telling them they should seek, and pursue, what they love. People usually can’t differentiate what they really love and what they love the idea of.

But more importantly, you are not meant to do what you love. You are meant to do what you’re skilled at. Imagine an aspiring doctor with a low IQ but a lot of “passion.” They wouldn’t make it through medical school, and you wouldn’t want them to.

If that person didn’t know better, they’d develop an inferiority complex and spend the better part of their life bitter and assuming themselves to be failures. They didn’t get to do what they thought they loved, so they haven’t actualized their lives as they were supposed to.

Premeditating what we think we’d love to do without actually being in the thick of it is the beginning of the problem, and having too much ego to scrap it and start over is the end. When we try to anticipate what we’d love, we’re running on a projection, an assumption. Almost everybody believes they have the talent to succeed at the thing they really love. Needless to say, not everybody is correct.

True enough, but up to a point. What do you do when someone is good at many things that one doesn't enjoy?

Case in point: me. I was good at the law thing. I got good enough grades in law school, despite working full-time in a bar to pay for tuition, that I got a job with a prestigious law firm. I quite before I started because I realized - in the nick of time - that I would be miserable working as a lawyer. I'm sure many lawyers have great lives and careers. I didn't think I could do it. So even though I did get a law degree after being pressured to get myself into a practical career instead of writing, I never spent a day working as a lawyer.

Later on I got a job as a newspaper columnist writing about Quebec affairs. I was pretty good at it - at least, judging from the comments I still get, to this day, about what I did then. I enjoyed it for a few years but then I had a baby and suddenly Quebec politics seemed so trite I couldn't bear to look at it anymore, never mind think about it or find anything interesting to say about it. So I quit.

Had two more babies, and one day, when the littlest was nine months old, the opportunity to work at the about-to-launch Sun News Network came and I took it (so did my husband). I worked the early-morning shift while John stayed home with the kids and he'd go in the afternoon when I stayed home with them. Just so we could avoid daycare, which I didn't want.

I have good memories about the two years I spent at Sun News, and again judging from comments I still get to this day from people I've never seen before in my life who used to watch me religiously every morning, I was decently good at the job. But to be honest, I didn't love it.

You know what I love doing? I love writing. I love making things pretty. I love taking photographs and videos, and turning them into things people can enjoy. (I also love karate and working out, but you already knew that, right?)

So yeah, what do I do? What I love, at the expense of not earning as much as I did when I was working in jobs I liked but didn't love? Or do I focus on being practical and earning money? I'm not into money, beyond having enough to cover the basics and a few sweet things. But you do need enough to live. It's a dilemma alright. That's why I like the conclusion of the piece:

The real joy of daily work is in what we have to give. We are not fulfilled by what we can seek to please us, but what we can build and offer. It is not fame, or money, or recognition that makes for a thoroughly meaningful life, it is how we put our gifts to use. It is how we give.

Think about the structure of that phrase: “Do what you have to give.” What you have to give. What is already within you. Your gifts are not random, they are a blueprint for your destiny. There’s more to your life than just what you think will make you happy. Your real talents may not stroke your ego as much, but if you apply to them the kind of higher thinking that allows you to find the purpose within them, you will be able to get up every single day and work diligently. Not because you are stoking your senses and stroking your ego, but because you are using what you have.

You are doing what you came here to do.

I know what I came here to do. I came here to write and make pretty things. I shall focus on that, come what may.

What do you see with?

Why the weak self fails to concentrate