“Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” If only I got a dollar for every time I heard or read this. But is it really like that? If you love photography and start doing it for a living, will it truly stop being a job and will you lose a sense of obligation? Landscape photographer Mark Denney discusses this in his latest video. And even though he believes it’s not a video that many people would watch, I think quite the opposite. Not only everyone should watch it before turning their hobby into a full-time career, but it will also give you a lot to think about.
After spending 17 years in the corporate world, Mark has spent the past three years building a career out of what he truly enjoys the most – photography. He has been in both worlds, and each of them has its pros and cons. In fact, his video reminded me of a post I wrote some two years ago, but more on that a little later.
While he was working for a corporation, Mark enjoyed his job. After all, who would spend 17 years in a job they don’t like? Still, the main goal every year was to make more money than the next. He was focusing on money as the measure of success, and I believe many of us would agree that it’s definitely not the only thing that determines how successful you are. The last few years on that job were difficult and unstable, so he was developing an “exit strategy.” And it turned out to be a good one because now he does what he really loves the most.
But there is a major problem with doing what you love. Instead of “not working a day in your life,” as that saying goes, you actually work every day of your life. Let me explain. Working for a corporation left Mark with a decent work-life balance, which is something he finds extremely important (and I think we all should). When he would get home, his work was done. On the other hand, when you do what you love, you can’t just leave your work elsewhere. At least he can’t, and neither can I. Even when you’re free, you often think about something photography-related, you have new ideas, you want to write them down or if you’re impatient like me – you want to start working on them right. Now. When you do what you love, it’s difficult to “shut off.”
But there’s even more
As I mentioned, Mark’s video got me thinking and reminded me of the post I wrote before. Other than being always “on,” there are other things that you’ll sometimes hate even if you do what you love, and I mentioned them in that post. I will not directly translate it here from Serbian, but I’ll rely on it and the thoughts I expressed in it.
I’m not a photographer (at least not professionally), but I sure do what I love – I write. Even as a little girl, I fantasized about writing books. Blogs didn’t exist back then, but it turned out that I like this form of expression. I graduated from college and obtained a Master’s degree in the English language. I have been into photography for well over a decade. And a few years after graduation, I finally found the job I absolutely love: writing about photography in English.
As you can probably conclude (since I’ve been with DIYP for almost five years), I love this job. I love sharing information and knowledge and expressing my own creativity and opinions. I also love sharing with the world all the awesome projects I stumble upon. I enjoy being in touch with kind people I’ve met through this job, especially my super-awesome colleagues who have become my friends. The freedom of organizing my own time is priceless, and so is working from home (at least for me). It’s amazing that I can just bring my laptop anywhere and work from a bar, a beach, from my boyfriend’s place… Wherever I feel like that day. In a word – I love my job. But it’s definitely not true that I don’t work a day in my life.
First of all, there are days when I can’t write a meaningful sentence. I can’t speak or write properly in Serbian on some days, not to mention English! There are days when I’m not inspired, or there are sometimes topics I don’t have a strong opinion about so I struggle when I write about them. Even though we don’t have the same job, I think photographers could relate. There will be shoots you won’t like. There will be days when you won’t feel inspired – and you will still have to show up and do the job. On days like this, you’ll have your job and the fact that you have to work at all – and this is why I hate the saying “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Sayings like this could make you feel super-guilty when you’re having a bad day. You could criticize yourself because you’re “ungrateful,” “spoiled,” or whatever. You do what you love, yet you don’t feel like working for a day, so you may wonder what the hell is wrong with you. If you’re prone to fierce self-criticism like I am, you’ve been there.
So at the end of this ramble of mine, I want to tell you that doing what you love is a great privilege, but that doesn’t mean you have to love it every day. The point isn’t to “not work a day in your life.” There will be days when you’ll love your job to bits, and days when you’ll wish to be on a vacation or retired. But I think that the whole point of doing what you love is to have more of those former days than the latter.
If you ask me, I’ll always tell you – go for it. Find the job you love and be the best you can at it. But remember – there will be times when you won’t like it. There will be days when you’ll be overwhelmed. And periods of unhealthy work-life balance will be more common than on any 9-5 job. But in my opinion – it’s definitely worth it.