Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

The quote above (often attributed to Confucius) is one that I see frequently floating around social media feeds. It resonates deeply with our desire to avoid displeasure (“work”) and find fulfillment. So, similarly to many others, it was a quote which I really appreciated as I entered the workforce a few years ago.

I realize now, however, that it misses the mark in an important way.

I am lucky to have a job in an industry that I love, as evidenced by the numerous hours I spend every week doing similar tasks in my free time. Yet there are definitely still days that I have to “work”.

The reality I have discovered is that so long as you must interact with other humans, you will always have days where you must “work”. This is because every person is different in a myriad of ways and unless you are perfectly aligned in every sense, then there will be some friction eventually, which will feel like “work”.

Maybe it is a manager that you don’t get along with. Or, a client that nitpicks every detail of your work. Or, some tedious chore that got dumped on your plate. Or, simply needing to do anything on a day you’re completely exhausted because a stakeholder is waiting.

The point is that every job will have periods where you have to do things that you feel are “work” and not simply a passion of yours. It would be wonderful to have a job where you only ever needed to worry about doing the thing you love, but in order for that to be a source of income or a way to live, you will find yourself at least occasionally having to do things you don’t particularly enjoy.

Having an expectation that no day will ever feel like “work” will set you up for failure. When things start to feel dull, even for just a couple days, you’ll begin to question if you’ve made the right decision.

On the other hand, if you can set realistic expectations about the nature of your work then you will be able to weather the storms of disappointment much more easily. You will be able to anchor yourself to the knowledge that once the storm passes, you will be doing work you enjoy once more.

All of this to say: choose a job you love and even on the days that you have to work, you can still find happiness.