Bad career advice

Four reasons why pursuing what you love may not be a good idea

I’ve heard my share of bad career advice over the years, but no single piece of advice bothers me as much as the old adage:

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

While the quote’s origin is contested, its promise is unambiguous — find your dream job, and everything will be smooth sailing until your eventual retirement.

I remember standing in…and this [minor league pitcher] is throwing us 87-mile hours fastballs or something… and I’m just jacking these balls, and I’m feeling like a king… And the guy’s kind of looking at me like, ‘You’re an idiot, I’m just throwing you meatballs to hit,’ so he throws a curveball at my head, and the sound that it made coming towards my head, and how embarrassingly bad I fell backwards, and how far on the outside of the plate the ball ended up… I remember standing up and thinking, ‘Oh, I’m never going to be a professional baseball player.”

Now you may be thinking, OK, but that’s professional sports. Everyone knows it’s ridiculously improbable to make a living as a professional athlete. My point is that there’s a huge difference between loving what you do and being good at it.

  • Business travel on a day that’s important to you (birthday of a child or spouse, while a loved one is ill)
  • Dealing with a difficult colleague
  • Seeing a significant project you’ve led get cancelled
  • Having to communicate the death of a colleague to your co-workers

Adam has been developing and designing complex software systems for the last two decades. He is also a son, brother, husband and father.

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