We’ve all heard the saying, “Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” The quote has been attributed to Marc Anthony, Confucius, and Mark Twain. The Beatles famously sang, “All you need is love.” These ideas are the rose-colored glasses of the inspiration and motivation world.
Ten years ago, I landed what I believed was my dream job at the age of 32. I knew this was what I was meant to do, and I could not believe I had somehow managed to get that job before I was 40. However, while I remained passionate about my work, I quickly found myself burnt out and resentful. I was doing what I loved. Why was I miserable?
Adam J. Kurtz @adamjk on Twitter summed it up perfectly in his Tweet from March 6th, 2019,
“Do what you love and you’ll work super f*cking hard all the time with no separation or any boundaries and also take everything extremely personally.”
I had exactly zero boundaries. I was scheduling appointments well outside of my business hours, working on weekends, responding to emails at 2 am, and quickly becoming a case study on how not to be successful. My performance and my attitude tanked. I was terrified of what it would look like if I wasn’t making myself available to everyone all the time.
Much like the Beatles, I was wrong. No one expected me to be that available. In fact, being that available created more work because I was frequently providing substandard service to those I was engaging with. I needed to make a change, or I risked losing this job I was still quite passionate about.
I was able to create boundaries regarding my time with my colleagues and clients. My boundary issue was working during my downtime, so I had to create a boundary to address that. It was easier for me to do this via digital communication so that my work hours and expected response times were clearly documented. I set up an out-of-office communication that I turned on at the end of every shift. I made sure my work hours were in my signature. I made small changes that made a big impact. For me, this approach eliminated my fear of conflict. No one really expected me to work outside of my business hours, but I had a hard time telling people I would not be available when they might want me to be available.
This change made a huge difference. My performance and my attitude improved. I am still with the organization over a decade later. I didn’t have to sacrifice my sanity, and by creating and maintaining a clear boundary, I was able to alleviate the resentment I had started to feel.
Nedra Glover Tawwab, in her book Set Boundaries, Find Peace, states,
“People treat you according to your boundaries.”
We live in a world where we are constantly connected. The urgency of alerts and the fact that we always know there is something we can and often feel like we should be doing creates challenges to setting boundaries. How do we turn away from the thing we love, and that may also pay the bills? Setting boundaries is not turning away. Setting boundaries is knowing and communicating your worth. In an office space, it may be using all your vacation days. As an entrepreneur, it may be ensuring charging your full fee and remembering that you are the boss and make the rules.
Maybe the Beatles didn’t get it wrong. Maybe a love of yourself is all you need. But you still probably need more than love to get by.