The One Question You Should Ask About Your Job

March 12th 2015

Things you need to know before you read this:

1. I’m an editorial copywriter for the fashion industry in New York City—by day.

2. I’m the aliased author of this storytelling blog that has zero to do with fashion—in secret.

3. It would be absolutely impossible for one of these to exist without the other.

4. And you’re about to find out why:

Action:

Everybody’s doing it.

Every. Single. Day.

And the way they do it, usually goes like this:

Wake up.

Eat something.

Work a lot.

Come home.

Go to sleep.

Do it all over again.

It’s true.

Going to work is something we all do. Often. Regularly. Daily. Monthly. And in some feeling—infinitely.

Every day.

We trade in valuable hours of our life to do things that feel so obligatory. So demanded. So forced. Sometimes boring. And not always fun. And that’s not easy. And it doesn’t always seem fair. Especially when your recycled view five times a week consists of a flimsy cubicle wall or a large window that frames a sun-drenched city you’re so tragically used to seeing from the inside out.

Makes sense.

Why we’re frustrated.

How could we not be?

Susie over in accounting sent a snarky e-mail. That meeting lasted 40 minutes longer than it was supposed to. Vacation days are reaching their final tally count. And that last project you did didn’t get approved.

This is an outrage.

Shouldn’t we be spending our lives sleeping in? Seizing the day? Hanging by the pool? Traveling everywhere? And eating impeccable food instead?

Yes.

But.

Before you torpedo into your boss’ office and shoot off your 2 weeks notice.

Cool it, Jerry.

Cool it, Jerry.

 

There’s something I have to say first:

My job is not my passion.

There. I said it.

It’s not my passion.

It’s what pays my bills. Triggers my brain cells every day. Fills my title blank on my Linkedin account. And humbles me harder than I could ever tell you.

So why do it?

Have a high-profile job I’m not 100% passionate about? Quit and do the blog thing full time and leave the rest up to fate? Am I wasting my time? Making a mistake? Should I ditch the whole system and just sleep in? Seize the day? Hang by the pool? Travel everywhere? And eat impeccable food instead?

Maybe.

But.

There’s something I have to say first:

The other day when I was out to dinner with an old co-worker and I was venting sentiments that sounded exactly like this. That I liked my job. I was grateful for it. Got to do a lot of cool things. But felt guilty that it didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. And afterwards, she looked at me so genuinely and told me that before I torpedoed into my boss’ office and shot over my 2 weeks notice

Cool it, Olive.

Cool it, Olive.

 

To answer this question first:

“Is your job a passion? Or a paycheck?”

I sat there. Undeniably embarrassed. Because I knew what my answer would be. And I didn’t want to say.

“Well, Olive? Which one is it?”

“It’s a paycheck.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah…is that bad?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because now that you’ve decided that? You can only win from here.”

“How is sitting somewhere every day doing something I don’t love as much as I want to…winning?”

“How did you pay for your storytelling website? Your photoshoots? Your merchandise? Your storytelling events? Your vacations to get the stories you got?”

“My job…”

“Your job.”

__

“What’s the reason vacation feels good when you’re on it, gives you that rush of writing in secret and makes you dress like a half-decent human every day?”

“My job…”

“Your job.”

__

“How was it possible for you to fly to your cousin’s wedding, get connections for your sister’s internship and spot your friend money that one time too?”

“My job…”

“Your job.”

And I think that’s when I knew.

After dinner, my friend and I

parted            ways

At the halfway mark between our apartments. And on my way home, I thought about what she said, and I thought about it a lot.

How some people out there really are passionate about their job.

While others just use it as a way to be fully passionate about other things—a full-blown blog. A paid vacation. A hell of an employee discount.

And how both circumstances really can be equally great.

Thing is.

Working makes the damn world go round.

And I, more than most, believe in a life where we can all sleep in, seize the day, hang by the pool, travel everywhere and eat impeccable food, every day, all the time.

But.

It can’t happen. Not for everyone.

Because you can’t go to a kick ass resort without workers to make it run, board a big turbo airplane that will take you anywhere in the world without the motivated engineers willing to build it to perfection, or eat an impeccable plate of food without a well-practiced chef that took classes to whip it up just right.

We all work.

We have to.

And we’re all going to have to continue to work.

And that’s not going to change.

I feel ya.

I feel ya.

 

But turning that into a not-so bad thing? Is totally up to us.

Because here’s the thing:

If you’re passionate about your job? Stay late. Work hard. Blow it up. And earn money in the best way you know how.

And if you’re not?

Show up. Kick ass. Leave the second you’re done. Take your paycheck. And go do whatever the hell you want.

Because once you decide which one suits you best?

You’re absolutely going to win.

No questions asked.