This article was last updated on December 29, 2015
“You’ve got to find what you love . . . Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. And don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
–June 12, 2005 Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Address
So why doing what you love is the only way to do great work..
Reason #1: Happiness
According to Positive Psychology books like The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, Learned Optimism and Flourish by Martin Seligman, and Happier by Tal-Ben Shahar, rates of depression, anxiety, and stress are on the rise across the United States and around the world.
The United States has grown more and more materially wealthy for decades. But surprisingly, all of that material wealth didn’t buy us any more happiness. A person who is genuinely fulfilled by work and life has become the exception from the ordinary.
One of the main causes behind our epidemic of depression is the fact that the majority of people are not participating in jobs that excite them, fulfill them, or speak to their souls. They majority of people are simply not doing what they love for a living—quite the opposite actually. According to a 2014 Gallup survey, approximately sixty-nine percent of American employees are disengaged at work.
That’s why my first reason why doing what you love is the only way to do great work is to the opportunity to experience what so many people are lacking these days: consistent genuine happiness on a daily basis.
Doing what you love—whether it’s for a living or as a hobby—is a lifestyle that brings genuine happiness into your life seven days out of your week. Doing what you love will make you consistently happier than you ever could feel at a job that you drag yourself to for money or advancement. Deciding to do what you love as your chosen craft is going to fill you up with a sort of excitement, passion, and joy that the majority of people in our society don’t have access to.
That alone is reason enough to go after your passion.
Reason #2: You Can’t Give One Hundred Percent Of Yourself To A Job That You Don’t Love
Dragging yourself to a job that you don’t feel a strong gravitation toward or passion for puts a damper on your happiness, contentment, and enthusiasm for life. And it also puts a drain on your motivation, work ethic, effort, drive, and performance.
Because no matter how motivated by money, status, and advancement you are, you can’t give one hundred percent of your time, effort, motivation, dedication, and work ethic to a job or career that you don’t love. You just can’t give one hundred percent of yourself to a career that you don’t feel a strong excitement, passion, or gravitation for. It’s not possible.
Don’t get me wrong. It is possible to create a very bright and successful career for yourself by motivating yourself with money, status, advancement. But no matter how far you get, you’ll never be at one hundred percent unless you’re working a craft that you love. To be able to completely and totally devote one hundred percent of yourself to something, you have to be doing what you love.
Because you can’t give your all to a job that isn’t your passion. And if you’re not giving one hundred percent of yourself to your craft, you’ll never live up to your true potential for success.
Reason #3: Doing What You Love Breeds Greatness
If you’ve read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, then you’re aware of the concept that it takes an average of ten thousand hours to reach a super-successful level of achievement and greatness. Super-success requires a colossal amount of hard work.
When you look at the most successful people in our society—Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Jay-z—the grand majority of them often demonstrate a strong passion, love, or excitement for who they are and what they do. Our society’s most successful are almost always involved in careers that they love because passion is the only fuel that can push you through those endless days, nights, weekends, weeks, months, and years of hard work necessary to reach the top.
If you want to be super-successful, you have to figure out what it is that you love and go after it. Because connecting with your passion is the most powerful fuel you can use to climb that ladder of success.
And when you actually do connect with a craft that you love, you are going work harder than ever before, accomplish more than you ever would otherwise, and feel happy the whole way through.
Reason #4: Doing What You Love Makes The Journey Towards Success Your Reward
So often in our society, we get accustomed to thinking of money, advancement, and fame as our rewards for success and high achievement. But when you commit yourself to a career or a craft that you feel a strong passion for, those rewards that go along with success—the money, status, and fame—become less important to you.
When you devote yourself to a craft that you love, you start to embrace the process of getting closer to your goals, closer to greatness, closer to your visions, and closer to your dreams. Rather than the destination, your journey towards success becomes your greatest reward.
When you commit yourself to doing what you love, you are going to embrace the process of figuring out what your weaknesses are, overcoming setbacks, polishing your talents, and growing yourself spiritually. When you embrace that journey towards success, everyday will feel like one more fulfilling step towards living your destiny.
And all of the aspects of going to work that used to aggravate you—like working long hours, failure, or making sacrifices for your career—won’t be able to faze you anymore. Because what you do for a living is going to feed your happiness, speak to your soul, and fit in with your true character.
When you embrace the journey towards success as your reward, you will step into a type of consistent happiness, motivation, work ethic, and success that you could never experience otherwise.
Reason #5: Pursuing Your Passion Makes Life Exciting
Most people spend their entire lives without truly living. We drag ourselves to jobs that we don’t love—jobs that don’t feed our happiness or speak to our souls. We sacrifice doing what we truly want to do—what we know deep down we are capable of—to make ends meet or earn advancement in the world.
And as a result, we lose touch with that childlike excitement that filled our lives as children. We lose that feeling of aliveness that gave us so much joy during our childhood. And many people become discontent, bitter, or regretful as we move into the later years of our lives without ever knowing what it feels like to follow our passions.
Very rarely do you see an adult in today’s world that still has that feeling of pure excitement—excitement to go to work, excitement be alive, and excitement to be a part of the world—that children have.
Pursuing your passion is super-important. It’s the only way to do great work because it brings that childlike excitement—that you lost touch with a long time ago—back into your life.
When you commit yourself to a career that you feel a strong passion for, you’re going to feel a type of excitement that you probably lost touch with back in middle school, high school, or college—excitement to be alive, excitement to be who you are, and excitement to wake up everyday and head to work.
Regaining that childlike excitement makes doing what you love worth of all of the sacrifices of giving up a mainstream career to follow your heart.
Reason #6: Life Is Short
Life is short. The human lifespan isn’t very long. On average we only get the opportunity to live about seventy or eighty years on this earth before passing on—and that’s if we’re lucky. So my last—and maybe the most important—reason why doing what you love is the only way to do great work is the fact that life is short.
Whether life after death exists or not, we will only get one opportunity to make the most of who we are and what we came into the world with. We only get one opportunity to truly live, to figure out what it is that we love, follow our passions, and offer our gifts to the world.
You might think that seventy years is a lot of time to think your choices over. But if you’re not careful, you might let your entire life slip by without ever striking out to follow your passion.
A personal development writer named Bronnie Ware recently published a book titled The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying about her experiences working in palliative care with the terminally ill. The number one regret that Bronnie discovered amongst her patients was: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Doing what you love is super-important because it’s your opportunity to avoid reaching the end of your life—like Bronnie’s patients did—and realizing that you regret not being true to yourself. It’s your opportunity to avoid realizing that you wish you followed your dreams at a moment when you no longer have any time left.
Life is short. We only ever get one opportunity to truly live. So don’t let your life slip by without trusting your heart and following your passion.
Figure out what it is that you love and go after it.
Because doing what you love is the best way to make sure that when you reach the end of your time here on earth, you’ll be looking back with pride, peace, happiness, and a sense of accomplishment at the life that you built for yourself.
So have you figured out your passion? And have you started working towards your dreams? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.