When you bring the special qualities, values, and strengths that are unique to you to share with the world, you are following your purpose. You are doing what you love to do and what you live to do.
“Do What You Love”
“Do what you love and the necessary resources will follow.” ~ Peter McWilliams
“Find something you love to do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. ~ Harvey Mackay
“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” ~ David Frost
“Do what you love and the money will follow.” ~ Marsha Sinetar
Yeah, But There’s A Catch
I wonder if you, like I, have heard this sentiment expressed in many ways over the years? “Do what you love and the money will follow.”
It sounds great. But there’s a catch. I love to spend time with my wife and family, take walks on the beach or hike in the mountains, read books on psychology and self-actualization, write, play my guitar, and work Sudoku puzzles. So far, I have yet to find a way to make money doing any of these things.
Love Everything You Do
But I’ve recently come across something that has given me a new understanding about doing what you love and loving what you do. In his book, The Highest Goal, Michael Ray offers exercises he calls “live withs”.
In the chapter called “Find True Prosperity”, he encourages readers (and his students at Stanford) to “Do only what you love, love everything you do.” [Ray]
By doing this “live with” for a week or longer and reflecting on the experiences, it is possible to (1) discover the qualities and feelings you get from the things you love to do, and (2) understand that at least some of the activities you engage in that you don’t love are a necessary part of a larger experience that you do love.
The Highest Goal
This really brings us back to basics. What is your purpose? What are your values? Where do your strengths lie?
When you follow your purpose, you are doing the things that matter to you and to the world (Ray’s “highest goal”). “The place God calls you to,” said Frederick Buechner, “is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep need meet.”
When you honor your values, you do the things that are meaningful for you and that bring meaning to you.
And when you use your core strengths, those are typically the times when you are doing something you love to do.
What Do I Do Now?
Here is an exercise, adapted from The Highest Goal. Do this and transform what you have to do into something you love to do.
- Write down a list of activities you love to do. Go for at least twenty if you can. These activities are things that meet one or more of these criteria [Ray]: It is easy. It is enjoyable. It has intrinsic meaning for you. It feels natural. It is something you look forward to. It makes you feel good about yourself. You enjoy doing the activity for itself, not as a means to some other end. Doing the activity gives you the feeling that you are contributing to your life’s purpose.
- Next to each activity, list the quality or qualities you receive from doing the activity.
- Make a second list of activities you dislike doing. These should be the opposite of the criteria in step 1. That is, they are hard to do, they are not enjoyable, it feels unnatural, you dread doing it, etc.
- Next to each activity on this 2nd list, write the quality or qualities that are missing from the activity.
- Tabulate the qualities from the two lists. Look for ones that repeat over various activities. (You will likely find that the qualities that make you love some activities are missing from the activities you dislike.)
Performing this exercise helps show you the qualities you must have in your work (and in any other activity) in order to love what you do. Just as important, it shows the qualities you bring to activities in your life.
Love To Do And Live To Do
When you learn to bring these qualities to bear on whatever you choose to do, then you can begin to love what you do. Therefore, if I understand the qualities I feel when I solve a Sudoku puzzle (joy, patience, order) or spend time with my family (appreciation, connection, renewal) and then look for ways to bring those qualities into my work activities, my work becomes more enjoyable and more meaningful. “With this knowledge and this approach,” says Michael Ray, “you can do what you love, and you can transform the things you have to do into activities you love.“
So “follow your bliss”, “do what you love” and let success, money, and other resources follow. When you bring your essence, those special qualities, values, and strengths that are unique to you to share with the world, you are following your purpose. You are doing not only what you love to do, but what you live to do. And that’s how you embrace your Excelerated Life™!
Do you love what you have to do?
Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Excelerated Positivity™ — building the skills that help you flourish — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.
Ray, Michael. The Highest Goal — The Secret That Sustains You In Every Moment. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc, 2004.