A job shouldn't be your source of happiness or fulfillment, but it shouldn't make you upset or frustrated either.

We spend so much of our time (and lives!) working, which goes to show how easy it is for our jobs to become tangled and tied into our identities, which can be incredibly toxic to self esteem and self worth.

Wildly overused sayings like ‘find your passion’ are well-intended, but do a lot more harm than good. They imply that once you find what you love to do, working in that field will be easy.

But, inevitably and inherently, work is not easy.

More and more mainstream creative jobs are popping up over the marketplace, in fields like art curation or photography, where many people expect such a job to fulfill their dreams of working in what they "love" doing or something in which they find "life meaning". We have such high expectations for these romanticized jobs to solve all our needs for meaning and fulfillment. In actually accomplishing the creative work, however, these newfound employees realize that their "creativity" just a means to a financial end. (Which, to clarify, is the point of design, in many ways. There’s a great book called Nostalgic Design: Rhetoric, Memory, and Democratizing Technology that I highly recommend as reading more about the client/designer interaction and relationship in regards to creative output).

Instead of focusing on what a job can do for us, let's focus on the value of what we are offering to the world (or for someone else, your work, or your community).

When we are invariably on a constant quest to optimize job satisfaction by the pursuit of passion, this can instead lead to lingering resentment and daydreaming about the better work that's somewhere else out there in the atmosphere.

By focusing on our intrinsic skillsets and building those skillsets, we can provide services that we are good at and are in demand. And, don't get me wrong, it's totally possible if what you do aligns well with your passion; but pursuing your passion(s) should not be required to craft a fulfilling career.

For further reading & inspiration I suggest checking out:

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
The Four Dimensions of Job Fulfillment by Margaret Gould Stewart
Nostalgic Design: Rhetoric, Memory, and Democratizing Technology William C. Kurlinkus
Exhaustion and Exuberance: Defying the Pressure to Perform by Jan Verwoert

writing about the intersection of design, business, and technology // addiejohnson.com