Why You Shouldn’t Do What You Love for a Career

Making money is great, but a lot of people say that if you love what you’re doing, you’re in an even better position.

I argue with that and will make a convincing argument that doing what you love for a living could be a bad thing.

The reason doing what you love isn’t a good idea is because you may spend too much time working instead of being able to split your responsibilities is a reasonable way.

I love blogging and running a side business, but that doesn’t end at 5pm. It doesn’t end at 8pm either. In fact, most of the emails I get come between 2am and 7am. I’m not up during that time, but I used to wake up to my phone dinging with emails and would occasionally respond to them. That is way over the line, but it’s very tempting.

If I was doing this full-time, I would still be tempted to work whenever the emails came in and vacationing would be difficult when it would only take a minute to handle an issue or respond to an email. Why not do a little work, it will help my business grow!

With most jobs, when we get home, we don’t have to worry about work until 9am the next morning. Most people don’t check their work emails at home and overtime typically extends only as far as work that can be done in the office. With my current job, I don’t check emails while on vacation and I definitely don’t make phone calls.

With my side business, I don’t have any real limits. Even on vacation, I respond to emails and do a little work (including writing, which I’m doing on a Sunday evening), and as much as I love this, I need to set boundaries and make it more like a normal job.

Maybe I am just bad at prioritizing and need to set better boundaries. But maybe this is common for things people are passionate about and isn’t limited to my specific situation. In that case, maybe doing what you have a passion for is better left for retirement or as a side gig.

Readers, would you rather do what you love or have limits doing what you simply like?

14 Responses to Why You Shouldn’t Do What You Love for a Career

  1. I agree that as soon as our hobbies turn into jobs, then they no longer are as fun.

    • Daniel says:

      @Financial Samurai, Responsibility is hard to deal with, and maybe the reason we don’t think they’re as fun is because we have to take care of more things and lose focus on what we enjoyed about it in the first place. The actual blogging has decreased but other parts of running a business have increase for me.

    • @Financial Samurai, I don’t know FS. Many people still love their job.

  2. Hunter - Financially Consumed says:

    I think you present a clear, strong argument here. I agree that setting boundaries is challengng, especially in your own business where you hope that effort equals results…clearly it doesn’t always work that way. Last week I was out of town on vacation and my blog all but died because I wasn’t feeding it every day. It was tough to watch dismal traffic numbers, and I wanted to jump in, but couldn’t. That boundary was out of my control and it drove me nuts. I think I like your segmentation strategy.

    • Daniel says:

      @Hunter – Financially Consumed, I think a lot of traffic was down over the weekend, the holidays are notoriously bad for blogs, but you’ll bounce back.

  3. Melissa says:

    I would much rather have a career that I love, than a job that I only kind of like. I think the key is just being able to set boundaries, regardless. For instance, I keep the buzz notification turned off on my phone with emails, because I don’t need to be constantly notified for that. I know other people who set rules about how they won’t do work stuff past a certain time in the day. Though all this is much easier said than done, of course.

    • Daniel says:

      @Melissa, What if that important email comes through at 9pm when someone is working in Australia? If you don’t respond, they won’t get your email until the following day and your deal might fall through? It’s really hard for me, I answer important emails before going to work.

      • Melissa says:

        I’d say, if a deal’s going to fall through because I got an email at 9 p.m. and waited until the following morning to reply, then that’s not a company I want to work with in general.

  4. Dr Dean says:

    It is definitely easier to set boundaries when you are doing your “job” rather than your hobby, or what you love.

    However, when those are the same self-control is a must.

    It’s a real chore to turn things off, but burnout is the alternative.

  5. krantcents says:

    I spend a lot of time blogging because I enjoy it. I am trying to cut back somewhat to have a normal life.

  6. I agree that it’s hard to set boundaries. You said that if you were doing it full time, you would be tempted to do it full-time… wouldn’t it be easier to set boundaries because it would be your job?

  7. Noah says:

    While I understand the argument that it’s tempting to overwork because you enjoy your job, like others have said, it’s really a matter of priorities. You can apply the idea that “I shouldn’t do X because I love it so much” to just about anything. As you grow older, get married, have children, this idea of wanting to spend lots of time working will slowly melt away as you realize that life’s joys are passing you by. If you are indeed a workaholic, and I’m not convinced you are, you’ll be forced to make lifestyle changes or give up other things. Most people that love what they do are able to figure out the right balance after being in the workforce for a decade or so.

    I believe you feel like you are always working because:

    1. You are a business owner and being a business owner requires time to pay attention to all aspects of the business, including the monotonous things. With the benefits comes also the responsibilities.
    2. Being a website owner and blogger has inconsistent hours. You might complain about answering emails at 10pm, but if you’ve only put in a 4 hour day doing other things, shouldn’t you expect to have to do things when others with 9-5 jobs are relaxing?

  8. Penny says:

    I think you make good points. I did my best to choose a career that I like and find really interesting, but it’s not something that I would choose to do in my spare time. I wanted a 40 hour/week job that I could leave at the end of the day, happy about what I’ve done, looking forward to coming back to tomorrow, but not needing to think about it between now and then.

  9. Andrea says:

    Hmmm finding a balance is hard, I think any entrepreneur will tell you that when you leave ‘the office’ the work doesn’t stay there, it comes right along with you. I don’t know, there are pro’s and con’s to doing what you love, a con can be that it can be all-consuming… like the others have said, setting boundaries is important.

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