Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Mike “Ambassador” Bruny.
The common advice to “Do what you love” (“DWYL” moving forward) sparks all kinds of emotions. Of course, the response has less to do with the advice itself and more to do with the worldview of the person hearing or saying it. We immediately wonder, “Is that for me?” and based on our way of seeing things, we provide feedback on whether or not DWYL also applies to everyone else.
My worldview tells me we should all hold DWYL as a path to self-discovery and fulfillment.
In other words, the process or journey of DWYL is more valuable than actually doing what you love. (Click to tweet – thanks!)
The Four Viewpoints on DWYL
There are a lot of voices in the DWYL conversation, and if we are not careful, we will allow one to be the dominant voice. I’ll share four ways to look at DWYL and you can decide which one resonates most with you and your journey.
How Dare You Do What You Love? [Elitism]
Since many people around the world do not have the option of doing what they love, you should not strive for it yourself. If you do, that is elitism.
Okay, let’s take DWYL and put it in a different context. Not everyone has the option of marrying someone they love. Is marrying someone you love therefore elitism? Or is it something to strive for?
What’s Wrong With You Kids Nowadays? [Old School]
I call this view the “old school” view. “Back in my day there wasn’t any talk about doing what you love. You went to school, got a job, and made a day’s wage for a day’s work.”
You may also know it by phrases like “It’s called work for a reason” or “You should be happy you have a job.”
I Don’t Even Know What I Love [New Jack City]
This view is especially prevalent among recent college graduates. An article in the Harvard Business Review gives insight into this perspective. Author Charlotte Lieberman suggests that instead of doing what you love, you should “Do what you do,” with a focus on mindfulness.
When you graduate from college, you have not yet been trained to discover, nor have you experienced enough different situations to be able to answer the questions, “Who am I and what do I enjoy doing that adds value?”
Forget about asking, “What do I love to do?” Start with “What do I want to learn next?” What are you curious about? Go in that direction and then answer the question, “What did I learn from this situation/job/internship, etc.?”
We Can Co-exist [Switzerland]
I like to call this view “live and let live.” It may sound like this: “Listen, I believe in ‘this,’ and it’s okay if you believe in something different. It doesn’t make one better than the other.”
Taking DWYL One Step Further (the +1)
I’m sure there are more voices out there talking about DWYL, but the ones I’ve described above are the viewpoints I hear most often.
I’d like to leave you with one final thought to ponder. What if we forgot about DWYL, which really seems to be work- or vocation-focused – i.e., how am I going to make my money? – and instead had a “life” focus? Here’s a new mantra for you: DDWYMIY, otherwise known as “don’t die with your music inside you.” Adopting this motto gives you room to explore what you express in and outside of work.
Expressing your music can show up as your full-time or part-time job, or it may be something you do on the weekend. Stephen Covey would refer to it as the seventh principle of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: take time to sharpen your saw.
Your music can change over time, but expressing it allows you to contribute to the greater good and simultaneously feed your soul. This perspective also makes DWYL a little more about “YES!” and a little less about overwhelming, anxiety-inducing pressure.
So, how do you look at DWYL in your own journey, and what have you learned on the path?