There’s the kind of work that pays. It’s necessary kind of work. You have bills. You have to eat. You have to buy your kids’ school supplies. Etcetera. Unless you are independently wealthy, you will always need an income. (If you are independently wealthy, please feel free to send me money.)
And then there’s the other kind of work— work that makes a meaningful impact. This is when you do what you love, simply because you love it. These are the things that are connected to who you are and the ways that you long to be a part of changing, healing, creating, fixing, and impacting the world.
There is always a fight going on between these two aspects of work. Likely, you will be caught up in this fight. You’ll be tempted to go all the way to one side or the other or look for a once-and-for-all cure.
Though both sides have their perks, you can’t leave either behind.
If you ditch out on work that means something to you and just pursue income, you’ll find yourself running on empty rather quickly. This is the kind of work that leads to mid-life crises and burn out. It’s working because you have to work and nothing more. There’s a lack of joy and satisfaction from the work. It’s trying to survive just to make it to the weekend, and then dreading monday.
Working only for the money will leave you feeling frustrated, worn out, and apathetic.
Back on the other side is the work you love. This is what you do because you want to do it. It may be your art or a cause that you care about. Maybe it’s mentoring and helping others. It is anytime that you do what you love. It’s things that you choose to do that make you feel alive. This work energizes you and leaves you feeling satisfied at the end of the day. It’s what you do because you love doing it, and nothing more.
Many people view these two types of work as being necessary and completely disconnected from one another: you have a job that you can bear to be a part of during the week so you can do volunteer work in the evenings and weekends.
Though it may work for some, many of us are tired of this paradigm.
We’re discovering a new way of thinking about who we are and what we do. And that comes through embracing the tension that will always be present between these two polarities. The task is to find the intersections between work that pays and work that is meaningful and constantly push for more alignment between the two.
The more you understand the impact you want to be a part of making, the more you’ll be able to find ways to make that impact and make an income.￼
It’s messy. And it’s hard. But it’s well worth your time.
The hope is to gain as much alignment of the two as possible. Something more like this:
Life’s too short to give most of it to a job you don’t love while your dreams and desires never get expressed. Find ways to do what you love and get paid to do it. Make an impact with the time you have.