Do what you love and the money will follow is the summary of feel good advice about life, purpose and work.
The problem is that even though our society idolizes those words, in our daily actions we behave as though money and status are our raison dâ€™Ãªtreâ€.
What do I mean by that? Let’s go back in time.
- Kids: When we are kids we are told to pay attention in class and to do our homework. Our parents encourage us to be the best and when we are, they are overjoyed. Hence all the tales about how smart my kids are and all those nice stickers on the back of our cars saying “My child is an honor student…”
- SAT: Time flies and it is college admission time. We are encouraged to study hard and get the best possible scores in college admissions tests like the SAT. The brightest and smartest of us are expected to apply for careers in the medicine, law and other top paying professions. If we want to make our parents really happy, we focus our admission efforts on the top colleges like Harvard and Yale.
By the time we leave college, we are already in debt. Some of us proudly own six figure debts. Thus the stage is set for the rest of our lives. Then, we receive one final piece of unsolicited earth shaking advice. “Take on as much debt as possible and buy the house of your dreams. Buy the kind of house that has 2 car garages with 5 bedrooms and 2.5 baths in a promising suburb. Buy the kind of house that guarantees that you will keep working for the next 30 years to pay your mortgage, after all, your house is the very best investment you can make!”.
So, we do that. We purchase an oversized mortgage for our future needs from our future earnings to make mum and dad and everyone else in our social circle happy. We get married, have kids, become responsible citizens with a responsible debt to boot and resign our lives to 50-60 hour work weeks.
Onset of crisis:
In our 30s and 40s after a decade spent in the office, we start realizing that we are unhappy. We have worked so hard and for so long that we can’t even remember why we choose our current lifestyle. Many of us are un-satisfied with our personal lives, career choices and our jobs. Realizing that there is a large hole in the fabric of our existence, we start searching for meaning, purpose, commitment, passion, joy, excitement and life. But wait a minute isn’t that why we attend school and go to college? Why do we have to get to the end of our education and perhaps to the top of our careers only to discover that we have been placing the cart before the horse all along.
Why do we go to school in the first place if not to discover ourselves?
How then did we get to the point where are so educated and so talented and yet our lives are so empty and our own souls so thirsty for meaning and significance?
So, I digressed, in our later years, after we realize the foolishness of crowds, we start building our lives around our hobbies and we look for ways to start a new career fashioned after the real dictates of our hearts.
This ladies and gentlemen is the secret challenge facing our society. We adore the words “Do what you love and the money will follow”. In reality what we do and how we live our lives seem to be fashioned after another secret but more powerful law “Do what you love and you will starve“.
It seems that our society really doesn’t believe that doing what you love pays. What our society really believes is that money is the ultimate love.
This attitude is perhaps summed up in the words below:
We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.
Charles Kingsley – English Anglican clergyman & novelist (1819 – 1875)