Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Work Isn’t Supposed To Make You Happy

Everyone dishing out career advice seems to agree on the same thing: work should be meaningful. 

But that’s terrible advice. Nobody should depend on work to give their lives meaning.

For starters, very few jobs in the world are wholly meaningful. Every job has its fair share of frustrating tasks. Even doctors spend hours taking notes and ticking boxes to record the treatments for their patients.

As Sylvester Stallone eloquently put in Rocky VI, “It ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.”

But supporters of this idea believe that meaning will magically protect them from the drudgeries of work. Which means that the presence of the smallest senseless task is proof that the job isn’t right for them.

Without this context, recommending job seekers to pursue what they love is actually dangerous.

Not only does it turn off people from perfectly respectable jobs, it also perpetuates hustle culture where we push ourselves to the point of breaking down. If work is so fun, why stop? Before you know it, your whole life is work.

And that’s missing the point.

Work was never supposed to make you happy. 

Before all the passion mumbo jumbo, the reason people got a job bewas to earn a paycheck. And then it was the paycheck that allowed us to do stuff that mattered, like having lunch with friends, or going some place nice.

So the real question isn’t: How can I find work that I love?

It’s: How can I work in a way that leaves me with enough time and energy to do the things that I love?

Sure, it’s nice if work can give your life a sense of meaning. And by no means should it make your life miserable. But the solution to tedious work isn’t to seek a job that makes you happy and reject all the rest.

By all means, let happiness be your career guide, just remember to look at places outside of work to give you a sense of pleasure.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach