I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

You’re Not Meant To Do What You Love. You’re Meant To Do What You’re Good At.

Do what you love has been a bit of a mantra of late on the inter­net, at least on the blogs I seem to have been read­ing over the last cou­ple of years. It’s some­thing that I love the sen­ti­ment of, but at the same time some­thing that has nev­er quite sat prop­er­ly with me. So when I saw the phrase You’re Not Meant To Do What You Love. You’re Meant To Do What You’re Good At in a tweet link to the match­ing arti­cle I instant­ly saved it to my Instapa­per.
I agree entire­ly with this point:

We’re doing peo­ple an incred­i­ble dis­ser­vice by telling them they should seek, and pur­sue, what they love. Peo­ple usu­al­ly can’t dif­fer­en­ti­ate what they real­ly love and what they love the idea of.
But more impor­tant­ly, you are not meant to do what you love. You are meant to do what you’re skilled at.

The trou­ble comes when the peo­ple who are espous­ing the mantra of do what you love are the for­tu­nate few who’s skill also hap­pen to be what they love. It gives them a dis­tort­ed view that every­one should be doing this and it cre­ates a world­view that doing work is a bad thing unless it’s some­thing you love.
The hus­band of an old col­league of mine had a peri­od of unem­ploy­ment not long after they got mar­ried. It real­ly impact­ed him as a per­son and I remem­ber talk­ing to my col­league about how her hus­band felt worth­less because of it. He want­ed to work because not work­ing made him feel worth­less. When he did get a job, it was not in some­thing he loved, but it gave him mean­ing again. He was con­tribut­ing to soci­ety, not reliant on it. He was giv­ing some­thing of him­self to do it and what he was doing had val­ue because of it.
As a Chris­t­ian I believe we are designed to work, God even designed and mod­elled the week around it six days of work and one day of rest (Sab­bath). The the­olo­gian Tim Keller in his book Every Good Endeav­our states

Work is as much a basic human need as food, beau­ty, rest, friend­ship, prayer, and sex­u­al­i­ty; it is not sim­ply med­i­cine but food for our soul. With­out mean­ing­ful work we sense sig­nif­i­cant inner loss and empti­ness. Peo­ple who are cut off from work because of phys­i­cal or oth­er rea­sons quick­ly dis­cov­er how much they need work to thrive emo­tion­al­ly, phys­i­cal­ly, and spir­i­tu­al­ly.

This is exact­ly what my colleague’s hus­band expe­ri­enced. With­out work he strug­gled in exact­ly the way Tim sug­gests we will. When we fall into the trap of telling peo­ple to only do what they love, we do a dis­ser­vice to work. For some peo­ple their work involves doing what they love, whilst for oth­ers it involves doing what they are skilled at. For some, maybe even the major­i­ty, it involves doing a job because it gives them val­ue and helps them serve peo­ple around them.
The arti­cle fin­ish­es with this quote which I think sums up the val­ue of work, of any kind, superbly.

The real joy of dai­ly work is in what we have to give. We are not ful­filled by what we can seek to please us, but what we can build and offer. It is not fame, or mon­ey, or recog­ni­tion that makes for a thor­ough­ly mean­ing­ful life, it is how we put our gifts to use. It is how we give.