Today is Labor Day in the United States and though I’m not American, most of the people I interact nowadays are either American or Japanese so their holidays affect me as well. And since today is the day of labor in the USA, I thought to write more about work on my blog today. Enhancing a little the last paragraphs of my last week’s post.
Cursing at my work taught me a great deal about choosing my work…
When I was in college I was already working as a freelancer building web sites for customers and doing Internet Marketing for them. I loved it… well almost. I loved many aspects of it but they were some things that I hated about this work.
Especially when I had to build something I didn’t like because my customer said so. I was looking at the web site I was building and as it was a really big project it took me weeks to build it… but I hated it. I literally spent my day cursing at the web site… and as I was a poor student and I needed the money (and the project was worth a lot of money to me) I kept building it… and cursing. When I finally submitted the work and took my money I felt relieved… and looking at the lump of cash in my hand I was about to throw it away. I was disgusted by it. It was my biggest project to date and was supposed to be my pride… but I hated it.
I swallowed the pill and understood on that day that no money is worth doing a work you hate. I knew on that day that I’d rather work for less money but on something I’d love.
Choosing the work I love
When I finished college I decided to set up my own company which I’m running to this day (apivision.com) and back then it was an Internet consultancy for e-commerce and Internet Marketing.
Many people tried to persuade me to take the job in a big corporation but I was convinced I’d do better on my own, choosing the work I love. Don’t get me wrong, many people love their corporate jobs. I just thought it wasn’t for me. Later throughout my career as an entrepreneur I had many successes and failures. Sometimes I was hardly earning anything and other times I was earning quite a lot.
Yet, what never happened again was choosing the work based not the paycheck alone. I didn’t care about the money. OK, I cared enough in order not starve to death, but I didn’t care to get rich quickly.
Investing in yourself by learning something new
I was choosing my gigs based on what they could teach me. I’d rather work on a new type of web site or in a different kind of industry, just to learn new things. I thought of it as a way to invest in my education. Accepting even a lower deal but for the sake of learning new stuff, I was investing in my own education and seeking what I truly loved doing and what really made me happy. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t privileged or rich to begin with. My parents gave me great education but after college I started at zero. Rejecting some well-paid gigs just because they weren’t interesting hit my financials every time.
It takes time to figure out what you love doing
I was envious of my friends in high-school who already knew they were going to be teachers, lawyers, doctors… and I had no clue what to do with my life. When I graduated from the University I still was kind of clueless. I knew something but it was still not enough… I knew I loved the Internet, Computers and Business but was still searching for the answer. I got it when I found my passion for productivity (and building things) with Nozbe and the Productive! Magazine.
Please please please - keep searching for love, not paycheck!
Recently I talked to a friend who said he was happy to have gotten a good job with quite a good pay. I asked him if he was excited about the kind of work he’d be doing and he was like “well, it’s going to be fine”. When I looked at his career I saw a similar pattern each time. He was always aiming at getting the best paycheck possible. This was his main rationale, not love. When I told him once what I thought about it he’d reply: “Michael, it’s a recession right now, I get it that you have your own company and you love what you do but the rest of us need to be happy with what we can get”.
Maybe it’s true. Maybe I’m this selfish guy who just happens to have found a job he loves and gets paid for it well enough to keep his family safe in the times of the recession. Maybe I have no clue about the problems others face. May be. But what I do know is that I’ve always been searching for what I loved and maybe that’s why I found it. May be. And what do you think?