9 to 5 Culture

When Your Job is Your Passion

One of my acquaintances has a full-time desk job working for a branch of the military. She provides a fairly useful function for the military dealing with client contracts. However, this job could be easily eliminated one day with one stroke of the pen when a higher-up decides that it is best to handle military paperwork a bit differently. Lime many other 9-to-5ers, she is suffering from a common but not-often-discussed syndrome. She has completely let her job take over life, and it has become her passion.

Wait. Isn’t this a good thing? Not at all!

A few years ago she bought a large home in suburbia with her husband. Her goal is to retire as early as possible – before she turns 45. Not a bad goal by itself. However, her mortgage and an above-average appetite for nice home furnishings is making this goal a bit difficult to reach. She puts a huge amount of effort and energy into her job every day, but only because she wants to retire as soon as she can. She wants to keep this job as long as possible and will do anything and everything to make sure she doesn’t lose the job before she retires. Her ultimate goal on the job is to get to the highest pay-grade offered within this position.

Not to get a better-paying job, a job she loves or do something meaningful with her life. To get the highest pay grade so she can retire sooner.

But do you know what the real issue is here? She doesn’t have any other passions in her life because this goal has consumed her.

She wakes up at 5:30am, goes to work at 7am, does the same thing every day at work which involves dealing with contracts, goes home, makes dinner, feeds the dog, zones out in front of the TV and goes to bed. She doesn’t have ANY other hobbies or interests besides her job. Her weekends are spent decorating her home and working on things around the house. She puts 100% of her soul into the office. Her work has literally replaced her life.

This sad story is unbelievably common.

Giving Up on Your Passions

What is passion anyway? Is it something you really love doing so much that doing that activity takes the rest of the world away? Is it something you love so much you’d do it for free?

I would argue that passion can simply be something you spend the majority of your time doing. If you are working full time, you might hate it, but it becomes your passion if you do it long enough. And this passion can sometimes replace the things you actually enjoy doing.

You are not a passionate violinist if you happen to love paying the violin but you have not done it in years because you work so much. You are not a passionate rock-climber if you just occasionally read magazines about rock-climbing and spend all your time answering phones all day.

A lot of people who go to an office job for years on end can only think of what their lives will be like when they are no longer having to work. They will work harder and harder so that they can achieve this goal sooner. Before they know it their job has become their passion and they can no longer remember what life was like before they were spending all their time at their “passion”.

Some Food for Thought

By the time the young woman I know actually reaches her goal and retires she is going to have one heck of an adjustment period. I think she is going to need therapy.

This is why so many people have so much trouble leaving the jobs they have been doing for so long. Many of them go back to work very soon after retirement. This isn’t because they love their jobs, but because they don’t know any other way.

Don’t take this path. If you are determined to put off your life by putting all your effort into a job that takes up all your energy to the point where you don’t have any hobbies or interests outside the job, please reconsider. You will reach your goal, but there will be nothing waiting for you on the other side.

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