Loving your work, unless you’re very lucky, is difficult. Asking yourself, “how can I love the work I do?” is soul-crushing. You can’t force love.
So why don’t we love our work?
To me, it’s because jobs are inherently full of doom.
The doom of traffic.
The doom of clocking-in.
The doom of the guy who works in the cubicle next to us and makes weird grunting sounds while he shuffles his keyboard.
Every job has its own special doom–or more than one.
That’s why 60% of employees report being stressed all or most of the time at work.
Unfortunately, we need to work. Debt is at an all-time high in the United States.
Student debt alone has surpassed $1.5 t-t-t-trillion.
We have to work.
And we have to work in jobs that most of us are unsatisfied with.
I’ve gotten to work in jobs that I’ve loved at the beginning, then loathed later on.
And other jobs that I loathed at the beginning, and still loathed as I left with a middle finger in the air.
But I’ve also been very lucky that I’ve had several jobs that I loved to do.
From farming to blogging, here’s why I love them.
The Jobs I’ve Had Where I Loved My Work
1. My First Job
Though I loved selling through the fundraising packets our school gave us as children, my first real job came at the age of 12-years-old.
No, my parents didn’t force me into it to make ends meet.
I wanted to work on the weekends so I could have money to buy a Gatorade and some Slim Jims before basketball practice.
So, after harvesting, I took up a job on a farm bagging beets.
They’d give me a roll of some big ass plastic bags, a ring of ties, and I’d stand next to a mountain of beets filling up those bags by hand.
I’d make $5/hour for two hours of work every Saturday and Sunday morning.
Just throwin’ beets into bags and tying them up.
Sounds pretty boring, yeah?
But it did a few things for me at that age.
- It taught me raw beets are delicious.
- It taught me that hard work pays off in the long run.
So, I loved that job, even while I was doing it because I knew I’d be getting a Gatorade and snapping into some Slim Jims after school on Monday.
2. Photoshoots with Flipper
The summer of 2008 was a glorious year for me. I was 21-years-old and headed to Orlando from Michigan to spend my summer vacation as an Intern Photographer at Discovery Cove.
It’s a beautiful, all-inclusive theme that at the time was owned by Anheuser-Busch in their Busch Entertainment Corporation.
I began my job in the learning zone: the entrance where guests get their first photo.
As my skills improved, I became a photographer next to the waterfall, and then in the aviary, and then I got my feet wet in the stingray pool, and I eventually made it into the dolphin pool.
While the pool I worked in had about 15 of the resort’s dolphins, I can only remember one of them, Akai.
He was the oldest and largest dolphin in our pool.
I can even remember his face: many of his teeth missing, a dark melon, and scratches from scuffles with his pool mates.
Despite his grittiness, he was a gentle giant.
And when I felt the power of his tail as he swam by me, I knew his age was no barrier to his strength.
I loved that job for the dolphins, though as I’ve grown older I feel more pity for them now.
I remember the baby dolphin, one of Akai’s sons–who frequently strayed from his trainer to explore the videographer and I–split her legs and nearly caused her to drop her camera into the water.
Who says dolphins don’t have a sense of humor?
3. Summer Camp is the BEST!
I can think of no better job for me than ‘summer camp counselor.’
It’s a grueling schedule of daily sports, entertainment, education, and safety regulation.
But if you don’t have energy, you won’t last through summer camp.
And you’re doing it all on nothing but pasta, salad, and a lack of sleep.
I make it sound rough, and it is.
But it’s that good struggle.
The daily regimen, the obedience to authority, sometimes harsh working conditions; on paper it sends up nothing but red flags for someone who finds happiness in freedom and self-driven pursuits.
But in practice, summer camp is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking.
It’s the practice of bringing people together from all over the world, and molding them into a giant family that knows there will be a day when you have to say goodbye.
I loved being a summer camp counselor because it gave me a fresh perspective on how to approach life and death.
Life is when camp begins. It’s easy in real life to forget that death will catch us, but in camp, you only have two months.
You know what you do now is already on the march to its end, and you accept it as a part of camp.
And this acceptance brings about a glorious feeling of timeless unity and energy.
That you’re all in this grind together, that you’re all an important part of your big family–your camp family–that’s where the energy to be a camp counselor for 14-hour days over 8 weeks straight comes from.
I realized that if I can accept my inevitable death in the long run like I do the final day of camp–which I both dread and always look forward to at the same time–then I can live my life in the same marvelous, camp-life-like fashion.
I’m too old to be a summer camp counselor these days, but it will always be a job that I loved.
4. What I Do Now
Though I don’t love the onsetting carpal tunnel from a gazillion hours on the computer over the past two years, I do love writing and creating content.
I don’t love it as a job because I enjoy the process of content creation itself (though I do), I enjoy it as a job because it gives me the freedom and self-drive that I mentioned earlier.
I’m a stay-at-home single dad and I need flexibility in my schedule.
As a single parent blogger and freelance writer, I can set my own hours.
I usually work all day when my daughter is at school, but if I want to take a day off to go snorkeling then I can get my work done at night.
From blogging to freelance writing to my poetry and books to YouTube and Facebook videos, I’m getting a lot of content out there these days and I never feel emotionally exhausted from it.
That’s a big reason I love doing what I do now: I don’t feel the ‘stress of everyday life’ anymore.
There’s no long commute through traffic, no having to clock in each day, no one staring over my shoulder, etc.
Today, my biggest stressor is my daughter. And that’s how it should be.
I shouldn’t have to worry about what job I’m doing when I have a daughter to raise.
Raising her is the only job that matters.
Sure, I have to please my editors and make sure I’m writing engaging content which takes effort, but it’s not work that stresses me out.
And that leaves me all the energy I need for my daughter.
That’s why I truly love to do what I do now.