People often tell young kids that they should turn the hobbies they love into their career. But is this always the best advice?

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hi, Emma.

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: So, there is a popular saying that people like to say. It’s like, if you do what you’ll love, you’ll never work a day in your life. You will probably at some point hear someone tell you this, and you and I talked about this briefly a bit ago, and I honestly don’t even remember which episode it was, but we thought, I think it was actually you or I don’t know, I don’t remember. One of us said like, this could be an interesting topic to explore and for us to chime in on. So I wanna talk about it with everybody today. So what does that mean? You know, if you do or if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s usually people telling you to just pursue your dreams and do what you love. And if you do that work won’t be hard and life will be perfect then blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So, Emma, before I give my opinion on all this, I’m gonna put you on the spot a little bit. What do you think about this saying? Do you agree? Do you think it’s a little too rosy?

Emma: I think it might be a little too rosy. Okay. I certainly know some people who have found those jobs that they love and that they’re really excited about and that are well into their careers and still really, really enjoy their work, which unfortunately is not super common. And, you know, I think it’s possible. But here’s the other thing. You know, I have kind of experienced this, not quite to the extent of like my whole career, but I loved playing music as a kid. It was my favorite thing. I played all these different instruments and I took, you know, decades of lessons in a couple of different disciplines. And you know, as I got older, a lot of people were pushing me kind of saying, Hey, you should do this for college. You should go to college for music and try to get a scholarship and play in an orchestra or something like that. Be in a band. And the more pressure I felt on myself to do that, the less I actually enjoyed playing instruments at all. And it got to the point where I didn’t even wanna play them in my free time. And it became like almost like this thing where it took the fun away. And I definitely think if I had tried to make music my career, I would not love it as much as I do now. And fortunately, you know, taking some time away from really digging deep and like doing all the lessons and trying to go to college for it now that it’s been quite a while since those days, I’m back to enjoying it. I still play my guitar and I enjoy kind of messing, messing around, and playing songs and stuff. But I don’t think it would be that way if I had done it for my career. And the music’s something that brings me a lot of joy. So I’m happy that that’s still something that I have in my life, but I don’t think it would’ve made a good career for me. So, I don’t know. That’s kind of my 2 cents my take on all of that.

Brittany: I’m really glad you said that because I ended up, you know, writing is something I love and I struggle with it because I write for my job now and that’s been a really hard thing for me. And I go back and forth between periods of time where I’m like, I don’t wanna write when I get home. Right. Because it’s become such a chore. And so I, the things I write on my own and like to write on mine are usually pretty different than what I do for work, but it’s, so writing takes so much mental exhaustion. Like, you get really tired ’cause you’re using, you know, your, all your faculties of trying to say the right thing. So that was a really big challenge for me. And I would say it actually still is a challenge for me because I do what I love, but also it makes me love it less a little bit like you were saying with music. So that’s really interesting that you say that. Cause I’ve struggled with that in my job. There’s also something else I really don’t like about this, and this is that you should only pursue what you love. And I think there’s a, something a little bit too rosy about this in terms of like if you wanna major in women’s studies and grow up and write poems about, you know, feminism, that’s great, you should do that. But I think there’s very realistic, you know, things you should consider, for example, there’s really no money to be made in that. Right?

Emma: Feminist poetry?

Brittany: Nope. I don’t think so. I mean, I hope not. I really hope not. But so I think that’s something else to keep in mind, that the point of working is also livelihood, right? You do have to be able to support yourself. And I am definitely all about telling people to go do things, you know, pursue their dreams. But, you know, I have a day job and I’m also trying to pursue my dreams as a comedian. So I’m, I’m doing a little bit of both and it’s very exhausting, but it’s rewarding and I don’t have to worry about being able to pay my bills and all those things. So, there’s also that I think people need to keep in mind and that’s why,  politicians have tried to push things like universal basic income. Which would basically say the government has to give you a certain amount of money each month. I think it was Nancy Pelosi who said like, this way, like, the artists can pursue their dreams and all that. And again, I think that’s, I really do think it’s great to try to make your dreams a career, but also, like you said, there’s the pitfalls and okay, you may not love your hobby anymore or as much. And also you do need to make money doing that. And it’s not necessarily about doing what you love, it’s about creating value for other people. Which we’ve talked about a lot on the show. So I think that is a little bit of dangerous advice that, that we see though I think. Yeah. I don’t know about your parents. I think I was almost given the opposite. It was like, you’re not gonna, like, it’s just harder to become an artist, right? So like, do something where you can make good money. And I’m also not saying you should be miserable in your job. I think our parents’ generation settled for a lot of that. I don’t think my parents ever thought about like, okay, what can I do that I do enjoy doing, but I can get paid for? I think there was a mindset of, you know what, I just need to get a paycheck so I can, you know, pay my bills and care for my family. Yeah. So there’s like a happy medium somewhere. I dunno. What do you think about all that?

Emma: Yeah, I definitely think there’s something to, you know, finding a job that you’re happy enough in. My dad works for a tech company and so he’s always having, it’s a very big company that you would recognize the name. But he has all of these like, personality tests that he has to do for work all the time.

Brittany: Oh, I know. Love. This is my job too, just for fun.

Emma: Yes, I love those. But my dad is not into them, so he’ll always tell me about ’em. But one that they did that he actually loved and he got a lot out of and told me about was this one where they were talking about like ideal work environments and like what your skills are. And it was kinda like a basic personality test for work. But one of the things that they said that I really liked is that 51% of your job should give you energy. And if it’s less than 51% of your job giving you energy, so say you’re an extroverted person and you like to be around people, if most of the day you’re by yourself, that’s gonna drain your energy. And if it’s the opposite and you like to be, you know, have more alone time and you’re a little more introspective and you don’t love being around people as much, being around people most of the day is gonna make you really, really tired. So I think it’s, you can find a balance where you may not love every single thing in your job description. And if you do, then tell me your secret. ’cause I don’t know how you worked that out, but if, you know, most people don’t love everything about their job, but I think you can find that balance of, you know, this makes me happy, it gives me energy, my day-to-day feels doable and it’s not miserable. But I also think, you know, pursuing happiness and pursuing, you know, those feelings of I love what I do, I’m so, you know, thrilled and I just have so much joy from my work. I think chasing that can be a little bit unrealistic. You want a job though that, you know, gives you energy and that you feel fulfilled by, and that also allows you the freedom to do other things that maybe you don’t do for a living, but that you enjoy. Like, I like to play my guitar in the evenings. I like to go for, you know, hikes on the weekends.

Brittany: And then it’s like a treat for you when you get to play your guitar.

Emma: Exactly. Yeah. And it gives me energy that I, you know, I refuel and I go back to work and I’m able to do my job even if I don’t love everything about it. So I think there’s kind of a balanced way of looking at it where it’s not like all joy or just all misery, you know, ’cause that’s not life. Life has, balance and it’s kind of like you sort of have these negatives and positives that you have to weigh against each other.

Brittany: Absolutely. And I think it’s also good to remember that when you’re just starting out as an adult, you know, on our show or in this show, our listeners are very entrepreneurial. And some of them probably have businesses where they are making some money. They already have jobs. But if you’re like me, where I didn’t start working until I was a teenager and then right after high school, you know, there were jobs I did not like, but they taught me a lot. I was a server at a restaurant, I was not good at that. It’s not that I wasn’t good I didn’t enjoy it. And because I didn’t enjoy it, my passion wasn’t there. But it was a lot of work. It’s a lot of physical labor. You are running around and it’s hard on your body. And I would not do that job again if you paid me. But I’m so glad I did it because I learned a lot about how to deal with people and hungry people are the meanest people in the world. So, you know, the term like hangry. So if I, you know, now that I learned to deal with them, I feel like it actually prepared me for a lot of things in life. So I maybe didn’t love that job when I had it, but it paid off later on. I also want to touch on one more thing, and that is the dignity of all work. Yes. There was a story that came out in the summer of 2018 where an actor who used to be on a very popular show in the eighties, someone saw him bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s, which is a grocery store. And they took pictures of him and they were like, can you believe this guy’s bagging groceries? Like he used to be an actor. How sad. Look at his like, fall from, you know, minor celebrity to blah, blah, blah. And, it made its way around the internet. And people were really upset ’cause they’re like, how dare you get mad? Or that might get mad at make fun of this guy. And the guy actually ended up making a statement. He goes, listen, I’m an actor. I go in between jobs all the time. I’ve got kids in college, I’m gonna work so that I can pay for my kids, you know, to do what they need to do and to be a father, to be a provider. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And I really liked that because there is dignity in all work. And I wanna make sure that people don’t get out of this. You know, that’s why I don’t really like the, you know if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Because sometimes creating value and earning value, you know, for your own family to take care of him that’s the important thing. So here was this guy bagging groceries, doing what he could to take care of his family, and then people were mocking him. And also things like, you know, there’s, we need somebody to fill every single position for our economy to work. Right? Somebody has to Mow lawn, somebody has to take out the garbage. Somebody has, you know, there’s all these different roles in the market that need to be filled. And I don’t wanna say that any of them is better or worse than the other because there is dignity Yeah. In all work. And so I think that’s a really important takeaway that some people forget about because we have these things of like, I wanna be, I’m speaking for myself when I was a kid, you know, like an actress or a singer. But you know, there’s different jobs for everybody. And what matters is that you are able to create value. So, yeah.

Emma: Yes. I totally agree. And also too, you know, the whole idea, like, do what you love. You’ll never work a day in your life. Talk to anyone who does have, you know, one of those crazy amazing jobs where they got their big break. And like, I think of like an actor or a musician where, you know, they have to work so hard a lot of times work, jobs, like working at Trader Joe’s or waiting tables or, you know, whatever it may be. Most people who have jobs that they really love had to do all sorts of other stuff to get there, get there. So, like you said, Brittany, there’s always dignity in work. There’s always dignity in, you know, putting in the time, earning money, providing a way for yourself, whether that’s, you know, what you do every single day, or whether it’s just a season in your life that you’re using to get to the next point. So I think, yeah, it’s advice that you should take with a grain of salt, definitely. That if you’re a kid, if you’re younger, pursue your interests and go after those things that you’re excited by and that interest you because you’re in a great time to do that. But don’t feel pressure to find the perfect job that you just love no matter what, because, they don’t exist for most people. So hopefully that is encouraging and not too downer for you guys. Thank you so much for listening and we will talk to you all again soon.

Brittany: Talk to you soon.