You've probably heard the phrase, Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life. I get it, but it's not true. It's still work. The phrase itself suggests that work is pejorative, but work can be the thing that actually fulfills your dream and your God-given purpose. As you have probably guessed, I have an alternative question you can ask yourself instead.
"Who do I really work for?"
I don't mean to imply that the goal is to be your own boss, because not everyone can be the boss in order for our progressive society to function. However, let me show you how to unfold the meaning of the question in order to come to the appropriate answer that I believe will change your life.
I was writing an article recently and wondered, If I knew no one would read this article, would I still write it? For me the answer was simple: Yes. I love the process of writing, being able to have an initial thought or idea and bring it into reality with words. It's therapeutic for me and helps me to be able to see the full cycle, value, and power of completing a thought with action. It's a pleasure for me to write, so I write for me, and I would write even if you weren't reading.
That internal conversation immediately prompted the same question in other areas of my life and work. Specifically, If I knew no one would listen, would I still preach? For me the answer was an absolute: Yes. There is no work I love more than preaching. Creating content is fulfilling, but delivering content is the climax of my work. How I deliver my content can change, break, make, or even weaponize my content. A great delivery can transform helpful content into life-altering content. It's invigorating and meaningful to deliver my content in such a way that I can see transformation happening inside the people I'm locking eyes with from the stage. But if they weren't sitting there listening, the delivery itself is a work of art and a work of love that I would do for the sake of delivery.
What about you? If you weren't paid to do the work you're currently doing, would you still do it? If you had no patients, would you still practice medicine? If you had no passengers, would you still pilot? If you had no patrons, would you still cook? If you had no buyers, would you still paint? If you had no consumers, would you still create? If you had no users, would you still code? If there was no score, would you still coach?
If not, figure out what you would do for free - then work toward doing it.
It seems like the same concept as the original phrase, Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life, right? Not really.
When I work for the sake of my work and because I love it, I now work at the pleasure of me. Even when I have more bosses than I can count, I still work for Me, Inc.
As a founding pastor, I work for the board of directors of our 501(c)(3) church organization. Although I report to the board, I work for Aaron, Inc., because I work at my pleasure, doing what I love. It doesn't matter what my pay is or is not, how many people attend my church or do not, or any other factors, I would still do my work. Here's why: I don't work for the pleasure of my salary, I don't work for the pleasure of our attenders, I work for the pleasure of me.
So who do I really work for? I work for me.
Small Perspective, Big Results
When I work for me, I'm not working to achieve an outcome, I'm working to do the work. This allows me to not be inflated or deflated by the results, numbers, cheerleaders, or naysayers. I'm still going to show up the next day and do my work, because I work for me. And that small perspective delivers big results, because I am consistent, relentless, unwavering, faithful, and therefore, effective. I have not succumbed to the outside pressure that no longer exists, because I don't work for them, I work for me.
Knowing who I really work for makes my work better. It makes my attitude better. It makes my work enjoyable. It makes my work meaningful. It makes my inspiration continual. It makes my creativity timely. It makes my leadership flourish. And it makes my life happy.
One last question: Who you do you really work for?