Jobs are like your three-year-old child – some days your job is literally the best thing in the world, and the very next day it seriously tests your patience. WTF, you were doing so well!
Jobs are fragile things. They come and go. Sometimes they are the best things ever, and other times they suck so hard it’s tough to get out of bed in the morning. It’s all you can do to drag your ass out of your warm and comfy house and plop down in the seat of your car and make the drive, yet again, into the office.
Or, take the bus.
I’m a huge fan of loving what you do. I mean, seriously – it’s great to love your work. To love the innate passion that you have for something.
It’s a wonderful thing. But, when that passion turns into a job, you’re setting yourself up for a potential disaster, and here is why.
The problem with loving your job
Here’s the deal. There’s nothing wrong with loving what you do for a living. In fact, a genuine love for your work makes your career that much more enjoyable. It’s awesome doing a job that you love each and every day.
Your job is a means to an end.
But, here’s the reality: For most of us, your job is nothing more than a means to an end. Your job enables your work. It puts into action the thing that you love doing. The conduit, if you will. It’s the path you take to earn a living. Okay, I think you get the point.
But, jobs come and go. They also suck sometimes.
Right now, you might love your job. You have a kick-ass manager who genuinely cares about you as a person. He or she gives you the autonomy to do your job in the best way that you know how. They don’t care about status reports or performance reviews. They fight for you during raise time.
Everything’s awesome. You love it.
But, what happens if your company gets bought out by another much larger entity and strips out that layer of wickedly-cool management and replaces it with a collection of mindless automatons whose sole focus is the bottom line? Suddenly, weekly status reports are the norm. You’re having 1-on-1 meetings every week with your boss instead of doing the things you enjoy.
Oh, and those raises that you’ve enjoyed the past five years? They’re gone – or at the very least, reduced. They are tied directly to an arbitrary 1 to 5 number on your yearly performance review that would make the most bureaucratic manager extremely proud. You get what you get. And, you’re no longer permitted to leave at 3pm on Friday afternoons, either.
The workday ends at 5.
In other words, jobs change. If you are like most of us, you’ll probably move around within your industry, too (in fact, that’s how significant pay increases tend to happen!). Jobs come and go.
If you love your JOB, rather than your work, then you might be setting yourself up for quite the roller-coaster of emotions.
I never loved my job
While I thoroughly enjoyed my work, I never loved my job. I never let myself love it. I’ve worked with some incredible companies, and also some not-so-incredible ones. It didn’t take long before I began to realize that the place I worked was nothing more than an avenue to the work I enjoyed.
My first job out of college was for a large employee-owned software development company. They earned healthy profits but did not have shareholders to impress. They sponsored company events. Overhead (aka: spending the company’s potential profit) wasn’t a bit deal so long as it could be reasonably justified. We were paid well. It was a comfortable environment.
Then, the company decided that an IPO was in its future. It wanted to become public. On the market. Profit-focused.
Oh man, did things change – and big time!
Suddenly, company-sponsored events were a thing of the past. Uttering the word “overhead” was an obscenity and required an act-of-god to approve. No more snacks in the break room.
We considered ourselves lucky that the office continued to provide us with filtered water through those big blue water dispensaries.
Things changed. The job wasn’t nearly as enjoyable. I felt like a number rather than a resource. I filled a billable slot and nothing more. One Friday, I went to work and was called into the boss’s office. Apparently, he had done “everything he possibly could” to find me work, but no work was available.
He gave me my layoff notice and, after more than five years working for the company, a one-month severance package.
BTW: After leaving my boss’s office, I walked down the hall to one of the project managers I had worked for in the past. Within two minutes, he found work for me and my layoff was reversed. Golly gee…
Love your work, not your job
I’m a big believer in a very simple phrase: “Love your work, not your job”. Over the years, experience has relentlessly drilled into me that loving my JOB just isn’t worth it. It’s misplaced love. To me, it’s entirely unsustainable.
Jobs come and go. They change. Management changes. Companies get sold. Markets can destroy entire sectors in the course of just a few days or weeks.
Jobs are way too fragile.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.