Why You Should Stop Looking for Work You Love

Written by on 17 Apr 2015

Raise your hand if you’ve ever uttered any of the following phrases (both hands if it was in complete exasperation and followed by a deep, deep sigh):


I just want to find my passion.

I just need to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing.

I just wish I could find a job that I really, really, really, really love.


If you don’t have both hands in the air (and you’re not wavin’ ‘em like you just don’t care), then baby, you’re reading the wrong blog.


Seriously, I read those words, and I wished I had more hands to raise.


Clearly, that would be weird, but you get the idea.


Exaggeration for emphasis. Yes, it’s still a thing.


Anyway, in my time as a soul-searching vagabond, I probably uttered those three phrases more than any other. And by “probably,” I mean “by a landslide.” I’m sure the people around me thought I had completely forgotten the rest of the English language.


I remember feeling this strange anxiety—a dire need—to find my “thing”. To know where I wanted to go. To discover work that I loved to do. To uncover my passion.


Having done all that worrying and wondering and waiting (and wishin’ and hopin’ and dreamin’ and prayin’), I can tell you one thing with absolute and complete certainty.


We’re all doing it wrong.


Trying to find, unearth, uncover, or otherwise discover your own personal Holy Grail or Promised Land is just the wrong mindset.


Having figured that out, I have one piece of advice for you:




Stop it right now.


Put down the worry wand. Walk away from the anxiety altar. And for goodness sake, quit questioning everything.


Stop looking for work you love.




Shift the paradigm.


Start looking for work that loves you.


I honestly wish I could be looking you right in the eyes when I say this:


You were given a specific set of gifts—motivating needs and behavioral drives that influence almost everything you do. By trying to do what everyone else does, you are literally (yes, literally) wasting those unique gifts. If you allow yourself to live your life this way, and those gifts never see the light of day, they will be lost.




Stop looking for work you love.


Start looking for work that loves you.


Now, you might be saying:


“Ugh, Tracy. That’s the same damn thing. You’re just switching words around and pretending like you’ve come up with some Yoga-like wisdom.”


You know what I have to say to that (in my best Yoda voice, of course:


“Wrong, you are.”


Here’s why.


When you’re “looking for work you love,” you’re functioning on a few major (did I mention wildly incorrect?) premises.


Three False Premises About "Looking For Work You Love"


Premise 1: Your answer is somewhere “outside” of you.


Friends, this just isn’t true.


I’ve come to learn that our answers—our real, true, deep, honest, lasting answers—are already inside of us.


You know yourself.


Probably better than anyone else.


You know where you like to work. You know how you tend to behave. You know the people you like to be around. You know the times you feel at your best.


More importantly…


You know where you don’t like to work. You know how you tend to misbehave. You know the people you don’t like to be around. You know the times you feel at your worst.


You can choose more of the former and less of the latter.


Yogis call it “your truth.” Acknowledge it, because baby, it’s there for a reason.


Stop looking for work you love.


Start looking for work that loves (the real) you.


Premise 2: You have to choose one of the paths you see in front of you.


Robert Frost was wrong about our choices.


At least wrong about our choices in the 21st century.


“Two paths diverge in a wood…”


I’m sorry, but since when have we only had two roads and one wood?! Right around the invention of the internet (thanks, Al), there have been WAY more than “two roads”... and WAY more than one “wood.” Our modern day world has more potential roads and woods than you can shake a struggle stick at.


But it’s so easy to forget this when we’re “looking for work we love.”


We get siloed. We get pigeon-holed. We get blind to possibility.


We forget about the world of options—the wall of peanut butter—that surrounds us. Instead, we focus on the few passions or interests that we can see right in front of us. We conveniently ignore the periphery, because it might complicate the situation.


But what about the periphery?


The periph, if you will.


In the periph, you can see the tangents. In the periph, you can see the connections, in the periph, you can see jobs that will capitalize on you and your strengths and your motivating needs and your basic habits of behavior.


In the periph, there is possibility.


Stop looking for work you love.


Start looking for work that loves you.


Premise 3: Your life must be dictated by what the world needs.


I’m going to get a lot of pushback on this one, but I stand by it.


Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”


Here’s the deal, people.


In order for you to be firing on all cylinders, to be functioning in your zone of genius, and to fully come alive…


You have to put yourself in a place where that can happen… naturally.


So many people (too many people, if you ask me) try to conform to what the world needs at the expense of themselves. By this, I mean that people see success defined by their culture’s standard of success or their family’s standard of success or their friend’s standard of success.


They try to put their square peg in the world’s round hole.


And it sucks.


I’ve had this realization several times, but it finally came into full clarity while I was talking with my friend, Jenn.


Jenn was expressing how hard she had been pushing and fighting and striving for a high powered job that paid a lot of money.


Ok, well that’s great… if you’re the kind of person who would thrive in a high powered job that paid a lot of money.


But what if you’re not?


What if you’re the kind of person who lives to serve others? What if you’re the kind of person who prefers harmony over conflict? What if you’re the kind of person who, no matter the money or the power, need to be happy and challenged by your job in order to feel fulfilled?


In order to be a good friend, wife, mother, sister… or person?


I promise you this—there is a place in the world of “success” for these people, too.


“Success” is not owned by the people who are willing to fight to get to the top, who will trample on anyone in their way, who are only out to get theirs.


Trust me—once you own your own behavioral genius you can start to find environments that will leverage that set of behaviors to the fullest.


And once you leverage your behavioral genius to the fullest, you almost can’t help but be successful.


Stop looking for work that you love.


Start looking for work that loves you.


The Big Picture


Yes, there are some great mysteries in this world.


But the work you were meant to do should not be one of them.


Trust that you know yourself better than anyone else. Trust that you have the answers inside of you. Trust that the world of possibility is bigger than you think right now. Trust that the world needs that “special gift that only you can give.” (Thank you, Marie Forleo, for that beautiful quote.)


Trust that you can stop looking for work you love.


Start looking for work that loves you.


Every last bit of you.

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