“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life,” Confucius said.
Steve Jobs claimed, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
And the author Ray Bradbury proclaimed, “Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.”
There have been times I’ve loved my work and times I’ve muddled through. But the constant has always been that a) I get to call the shots and b) I do work that draws from my writing and business-building talents. When I’m in my sweet spot, it doesn’t feel like work.
Like when I host the Make Meaning podcast. What began as a marketing channel for Your People has turned into a labor of love. We make no money with this endeavor, and in fact pay out quite a bit, but it is so worth it – because I get to spend time with incredible people, discussing the meaning and purpose of their life and work.
Perhaps I love this so much because interviewing is one of my natural skills. It’s not work, I can do it without much preparation, and my natural curiosity (some might say nosiness!) leads me to ask probing questions, which lead to deep connections and fascinating conversations.
You might say I’m in my sweet spot, my wheelhouse, when planning and hosting the Make Meaning podcast. Do you know what your sweet spot is?
The biggest challenges I’ve faced in my career had more to do with interpersonal negotiations or management quandaries than the craft of the work itself. I’m lucky. I grew up knowing that I loved to write and I did it well. My natural curiosity led me to write stories, record details, keep journals of musings and wonderings, and ask questions of people on airplanes, in waiting rooms, at check-out counters. I used to dream that I could one day be paid to write stories about fascinating people, and then it happened.
Or maybe I made it happen.
It’s not all that hard to build a career focused on your innate talents. That is, if you know what they are. And if you don’t, it’s easy to figure it out. Simply go back in time to when you were a childhood, carefree and open-minded, and think about how you spent your time.
Did you draw? Build structures out of blocks? Give speeches next to the fireplace in the family room? Bake cookies and cakes?
Whatever you used to do when it didn’t matter and there were no pressures or demands, that’s where you begin. That’s the first step toward immersion in your sweet spot, in your innate state of being.
Every individual human on this planet has a purpose and a reason for being. When we hinge our daily existence on that purpose, things are easy. We sail through life, in our essence, contributing to community as we are meant to.
When we don’t know that purpose, that’s when things go awry. When we flounder and flail, wondering where we are meant to be, what we are meant to do.
To love your work you must first know who you are and identify your unique traits and talents. Only then can you articulate steps toward getting on your best path.
From the youngest age, I was always writing stories. I interviewed people, I made up characters, I wrote detailed descriptions of setting and scene, taste and scent. I loved language and the interplay of words and double entendre.
Even when I didn’t have to, I wrote. Stories, poems, articles, skits. When a neighbor boy died at the age of 11, I wrote a newsletter to give to his parents to console them in their grief. It was how I knew best to comfort others.
So it’s no wonder that my life has been devoted to writing. I write articles, books, poems. I blog and write poetic posts for social media. I worked as a journalist and evolved that into a career in marketing and public relations. I teach writing to help others find their voice and feel confident that their thoughts and words matter.
Writing is my raison d’etre. It doesn’t matter what form this work takes; as long as I am writing, I know I will do well.
Of course, along the way that love of writing has expanded and morphed into a business acumen that now guides clients toward their own successful business development and growth. And yet, writing remains at the core – writing strategies and plans and content.
Sometimes, I need to carve out time to write my own stories, connect with my inner muse. While I spend most of my working energy helping others articulate their brands across all the communications platforms that exist, I must remember to connect with my own poetic voice, share my story, too.
That’s the dance we do – the work that pays and the work that fills our souls. Both are necessary.