The Dark Side Of “Do What You Love” – Psychology

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So the series continues, where I take a break from my usual positive approach to look at why the job advice of “Do What You Love” is probably going to crash and burn for you. Sure, I think that’s a good piece of advice, but it’s only a piece and that’s the problem. It’s not the big picture.

So it’s time to stick our faces up to the problems of the idea of “Doing What You Love” for a living, take a deep whiff, and acknowledge how much the situation stinks.

Last time I looked at how the circumstances of your birth and situations outside of your usual control could destroy your dreams from the get go. There was also the added bonus of realizing how a-holes may be biased against you just for how you were born to top it off. Extra frosting for the depression cake as it were.

But let’s get away from situations and look at what is probably wrong with you when it comes to “Do What You Love.” Though there’s the added advantage of admitting you just may be deluding yourself with your dreams, so you can fix that.

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The Dark Side Of “Do What You Love” – Your Situation


OK, so you have a dream, a job and career that involves doing what you love. You can feel it, you want it.

And yeah, a lot of situations conspire to make sure that you’re not going to get there.

It’s not even a real conspiracy most times, its just that in many cases you’re starting with the deck stacked against you. You might not even have a deck for that matter.

And this is just you, you’re some person in a first world nation reading this on the Internet. Right now the majority of people in the world don’t even have the luxury of self-deception you have right now. Telling them to “Do What They Love” is outright cruel because they needs to focus on surviving or paying the bill or not dying of disease or wondering what the next war will bring.

Even if you aren’t in the situation so many are, you have plenty of things that threaten to make your “Doing What You Love” dream a cruel joke that’s ultimately empty.

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Introduction: The Dark Side Of “Do What You Love”

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Me, I’m a positive guy. You’ve been reading my stuff, following this blog. You know I try to keep an upbeat attitude

There’s a reason for that – a good attitude is essentially engineering a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m not talking being naïve, I’m talking about keeping the kind of attitude that focuses on and maximizes the positive. I’ve seen more people defeated by a self-ruining narrative than a naïve one, to be honest – we’re usually our own worst enemies

However, there also times to admit that, when we get down to it, some things are awful. In fact, some good things are awful for that matter, or have awful sides.

And this comes to the phrase “Do What You Love” when it comes to talking jobs. You know it, you hear it, it’s practically de rigueur for any half-baked career coaching or even fully baked career coaching. Even I use it now and then, though I go beyond it.

The basic idea of “Do What You Love” as career advice makes sense; find a way to do what you like for money. There are two problems.

1) It’s been used as a panacea, chanted endlessly. I hear it so much that *I* am reducing how I use it because it’s become an empty, deceptive catchphrase.
2) In many cases it’s cruel, and it can even be elitist and deceptive as Slate Magazine notes.

Frankly, “Do What You Loke” is now a phrase of diminishing usefulness, pap advice, and concealing hard truths. So know what?

It’s time to go to the dark side.

For the next few weeks we’re going to look at what “Do What You Love” conceals, ignores, or deceives. We’re going to look at all the things it doesn’t cover. We’re going to look at the dark side.

If you want to live your dreams – or even have dreams and some hope – you need to confront the more unpleasant truths.

Gear up. Let’s get ugly.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at