Do you have to love your job?

Who remembers those career assessments we were forced to do in high school? Please tell me I wasn’t the only on who, on more than one occasion, had to answer questions like, “Would you rather lead a group of people or build a house?”.

The point of those questionnaire was to help us find our perfect career path – something we loved to do and would be excited about for years to come. The message so many of us are given from an early age is that you should love your job. That’s the goal. What’s that saying again? Love what you do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. That’s the goal, right?

It’s a privilege to get to explore and figure out which career you’ll love. Not everyone has that ability, and it’s a great position to be in.

But, even if you have the option to find something you love, it might not be a realistic option. Newsflash: that’s okay.

In full disclosure, I’m definitely one of those people who sought out a career that allowed me to work hard and love it at the same time. I used to think that anyone who didn’t feel that way about their job was at a clear disadvantage. That is, until I had a conversation with a friend that made me think about whether or not loving your job really is necessary.

I asked this friend, shortly after they got a new job, what their “plan” was. Or in other words, the infamous “Where do you want to be in five years?” question. Their response? “I’m going to work at this job until I don’t want to, and then I’ll try to find a job that will pay me more money”. I asked what happens after that. “Then I’ll try to find another job that will pay me more money than that one”. Definitely a different perspective than mine – but is it wrong?

The short answer is no.

Loving your job isn’t mandatory. Trying to love your job might even be more stress and trouble than it’s worth. It’s okay if your job is simply the thing that allows you to do the other things you are passionate about. Maybe work isn’t something you love to do, but funds the rest of your life. Perhaps you aren’t excited to go to work, but you’re not dreading it either. You might just be someone who works as a means to an end – it allows you to do fun things like pay rent and eat food, as well as the really fun things like go on vacation and enjoy hobbies that can’t become an occupation.

If that’s you, it’s okay to stop fighting it.

Trying to be something you’re not or feel something you don’t is exhausting and beyond stressful. Instead of feeling badly that you don’t love your career/job, just accept how you do feel. It’s just a job, and it’s fine. If you’re someone who loves what they do, great! But if you aren’t, there’s nothing wrong with you and there’s no reason to try to fit into a box you don’t want to be in.

You can ignore all of those societal messages of “love what you do” if they don’t work for you. Ironically, it’ll probably make you happier at work and everywhere else.

Stuck in your career? Is managing job stress getting overwhelming? We can help.

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