Calling BS on “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life!”

There’s some toxicity around entrepreneurship. The grass is always greener over here because we entrepreneurs grow grass seeds.

There’s a phrase I see a lot in motivational Facebook groups, or posters in cool fonts.

“Love what you do,” it says, “and you’ll never work a day in your life!”

That is complete and utter nonsense.

In college, I knew a guy, Kevin, who was there because his company laid him off and then paid for him to go to school. Some sort of obsolescence thing. So later in life, he went back to pursue his dream: working in television.

Or as he called it, “I’m getting a degree in working at Blockbuster.”

We had long talks about what life after college was going to be like, and since he had come from the workforce, he knew a lot more than my 21-year-old self.

He said something that stuck with me, to this day.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of work I do. If it’s work, I’ll find a way to hate it. Even if someone paid me money to go sit on a beach and drink beers in Mexico — if somehow that was my job, I guarantee I’d find a way to complain about it.”

I couldn’t believe it. Because I thought if you worked with a purpose, if you were pursuing your ideals, and making a difference, then you would go home every night fulfilled, laying your head on the pillow, exhausted but inspired by doing all you could do.

Ahem. I was a political science major, can you tell? And I didn’t know about office politics at all back then.

Here’s the thing: work is work. Think of even the most fun job you can think of, and it’s work.

When you’re responsible for your financial future, you have to do the work.

And work?

Whether you work for someone else, or you work for yourself?

Even work that fulfills your desire to put your stamp on the world?

It’s work.

And listen… there’s nothing wrong with loving work.

Brent teases me about being addicted to what he calls “workahol” — but he’s right. If I didn’t have him, if there was some sort of alternate universe where we’d never met, and I was single, I would routinely be pulling 12-hour days.

But thank goodness we’re building a life, not just a career. A life includes work that I love.

So, here’s my rephrase:

“Love the process, love the work, and don’t apologize for working hard.”

But also, make sure you have people around you that tell you to come out and play.

Because a great life includes filling all your buckets.

And stop chasing the absurd notion that if you just found one thing you loved enough, you’d feel differently.

Find work you enjoy.

Find work you would do if somehow your Friday night plans fell through and you were still in the mood to work.

But don’t kid yourself. There will be parts of any job that aren’t your favorite. Organizing receipts. Cleaning the windows in your office. Taking out the trash. Billing clients. Waiting for clients to pay their bills. Paying quarterly taxes. Figuring out legal stuff. Updating your privacy policy so you can be in line with some European guidelines. Managing people. Giving tough feedback.

It’s not all sunshine.

It’s not all roses.

And some days, some weeks, some months even, it sucks.

But if you love the process and love the work, you can ride through the suck, knowing that unapologetically working hard will ultimately pay dividends.

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