A Job That You Love Is Still a Job

The fact of having a job that you love also has a downside. In this article, we'll explain why, and what you can do so that you don't experience too many negative effects.
A Job That You Love Is Still a Job

Written by Elena Sanz

Last update: 11 October, 2022

Unfortunately, some people really don’t like their jobs. On the other hand, some lucky people’s working lives are nourishing and stimulating. Furthermore, they get paid for it. That said, if you’re lucky enough to be one of those people who have a job that you love, you need to remember that it’s still a job.

Naturally, if you dedicate yourself to something that you really like, you’ll feel more satisfied and happy. However, you also might face a series of challenges that can be difficult for others to understand.

For example, at a social level, you may feel that you’re ‘denied’ the right to complain and feel invalidated. Others might insist that you’re dedicating yourself to what you love, so what else do you want? You chose it. However, in reality, having a job that you love doesn’t mean there aren’t elements of it that you don’t like. 

woman smiling
Doing what you’re passionate about doesn’t mean that you won’t experience moments of dissatisfaction, stress, and exhaustion.

Discover your ikigai

It’s said that those who dedicate themselves to what they love have found their ikigai. This Japanese term designates a vital mission, a passion, a motivation that gives meaning to existence; in short, it’s what ‘we were born to do’.

Ikigai is the conjunction of what we’re good at, what fascinates us, and something that adds value to the world. If you’ve managed to combine these three aspects, you’ve found your ikigai. Furthermore, if you make it your profession, you’ll have a greater sense of purpose and improve your well-being.

Normally, when thinking about this concept, we relate it to artistic disciplines such as drawing or dance, but it’s far from being unique to these fields. It can equally apply to people with special abilities in communication, science, or construction. Indeed, everyone’s passions are extremely different. Similarly, the work we enjoy can be just as diverse.

A job that you love is still a job

Just because you love your job doesn’t make it a hobby. Have you ever heard the phrase “Choose a career you love and you won’t have to work a day in your life”? As a matter of fact, this is only partially true, and you need to take this into account for several reasons.

What you do deserves remuneration

If your job involves an activity you love so much that you’d do it even if you weren’t paid for it, it can make it really difficult for you to put a value on your services. It doesn’t matter if it’s painting pictures, caring for animals, baking, or teaching math. If you enjoy that task so much, you can feel really guilty for assigning a cost to it.

This isn’t just an individual issue. All of us, without realizing it, detract from the work of others. For example, you might ask a nutritionist friend to create a free diet for you or a physical therapist friend for a massage on the house. You might even ask your photographer friend to do you ‘a favor’ on your wedding day.

However, in reality, people’s time, knowledge, and skills are valuable, and they deserve to be paid for. This is especially important to remember if you decide to start or already have your own business. No matter how much you love what you do, you’re adding value to the world and this deserves remuneration.

It can cause stress

In a job that you’re passionate about, there are also demands and goals to be met. There are deadlines, goals to schedule, tasks to organize, clients to respond to, and unforeseen events to solve.

With a hobby, you can take it or leave it as you like. You can spend as much time as you want on it and do it whenever you feel like it. At the end of the day, it’s something that you do only for yourself and for your own enjoyment. On the other hand, a job is demanding and involves certain obligations. This can end up generating stress.

However, in the case of your work, you must dedicate a certain number of hours to it, you can’t decide to just quit. Sometimes, these hours can be long, since the economic return that you obtain for your work might not be enough. So, no matter how much you love a specific activity, when there’s a certain level of demand behind it, it can become really stressful.

Burnout may appear

Burnout syndrome appears when a professional ‘burns out’ or wears out physically and emotionally due to their job. It’s a consequence of chronic stress and it generates apathy, irritability, and low work performance.

At first glance, it might seem that a job that you’re passionate about couldn’t possibly lead to this state, but the truth is that it can. Dealing with clients, excessively long working days, low pay, or a poor relationship with colleagues are some of the negative factors that are completely independent of the fact of how much you may like your job.

The health professions (doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists, etc) are eminently vocational, yet they’re one of the sectors most affected by this syndrome.

You have the right to want to change your working conditions

Finally, as much as you love your job, you have the right to desire better conditions or even to want to change your profession. While it’s true that there are people in jobs that they dislike and who are in a worse situation in comparison, this doesn’t mean you should have to conform or give in.

On the other hand, when stress, demands, and pressures are added to what used to be your biggest hobby, it could end up becoming something detestable that you no longer enjoy. If this happens, you may find yourself missing the past when that activity was your safe haven and wishing you could recapture that feeling now.

If so, you have every right to change course and profession. Even if you’ve found your ikigai, you’re under no obligation to do it or make it your profession. Your needs change over time, and it may be that change is the best course of action for you right now.

tired doctor
Just because you like what you do doesn’t mean you should agree to keep doing it at any cost.

Enjoy your job, but don’t idealize it

In short, being able to dedicate your life to what you love, what you’re good at, and what enriches you is a real privilege, but it’s not necessarily an ideal situation. So don’t buy into the idea that you should feel grateful and must humbly offer up your talents.

It’s okay to feel stressed or unhappy, it’s okay to charge for what you offer, and it’s okay if you don’t want to do it anymore. Enjoy your talents, but allow yourself to experience both the positives and negatives of your situation.

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We Can’t All Spend Our Lives Doing What We Love

It's a fact of life that we can't all spend our lives doing what we love. However, we can always find happiness in our everyday lives.

 



  • Melero, M. M. (2021). Síndrome de burnout en profesiones sanitarias. Enfermería y medicina como población diana. Revista Sanitaria de Investigación2(12), 181.
  • Schippers, M. (2017) Ikigai: Reflection on life goals optimizes performance and happiness. Journal
    of Economic Literature (Rotterdam: Erasmus Research Institute of Management)

The contents of Exploring Your Mind are for informational and educational purposes only. They don't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment of a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.