Love before money.
For a minute, doing work that we were passionate about was all the rage. Simon Sinek’s Start With Why became essential reading and every coach I wrote for was hyper-focused on communicating their purpose to potential clients.
Now, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction and everyone is talking about why it’s okay to not love your work. Just Google “why you shouldn't do work you're passionate about” and take your pick of articles and TED Talks.
As someone who started on the path of doing work I loved long before these conversations hit mainstream media, I have a biased opinion on this topic. For me, being passionate about my work is as much a pragmatic choice as it is a supposedly fanciful one.
Something I initially learned in the seven years I was in art school is that I need to love my work because that passion will keep me going while I figure out how to create financial stability as an artist. This lesson proved just as relevant years later when I stumbled into my career as a writer and coach.
Loving your work is less about justifying unpaid internships—which I don’t support—and more about being able to stick out the process of creating something from nothing before the money is there.
As our world becomes increasingly fast-paced, the expectation that we’ll see a return on our investment has also sped up. This demand for a smaller space between money being spent and profit being reaped is one of the reasons I quit marketing earlier this year.
Creating something valuable takes time and no amount of automation or force is going to change that. This is especially true in a connection economy where the most valuable thing we can offer is the opportunity for people to gather and build meaningful relationships with each other.
Earning people’s trust is a long game. Building a community that lasts is not something that can—or should—be rushed. Focusing on profit instead of patiently listening to the people we want to serve might work in the short term. Long term, however, there’s too much risk of missing a key detail that will keep us relevant.
So loving our work as creatives isn’t a privilege or a nice-to-have. It’s essential. It’s a rebellious act as we try to navigate a capitalist system that would have us cut corners and compromise our vision because the end game is to make as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time.
Of course, money is a necessary evil. Whether you make it off your creative work or in other ways. And it’s also not the point.
So, what keeps you creating when the money isn’t there yet?