Do the Work You Love

This feature was originally published in Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine, Autumn 2020 (issue 63).

by Joe Barnes

A 2013 Right Management survey indicated that 81% of the employed workforce are uninspired by their jobs. This shocking statistic reveals the extent to which modern work fails to satisfy our innate need for stimulation and meaning.

Whether it’s the endless meetings, the office politics, having the goalposts moved when it comes to receiving your bonus or being unable to find a greater meaning for your work than collecting a monthly cheque, most people view work as something they have to do, rather than something they enjoy.

Does this always have to be the case? Or, can you break free and create, or find, a means to making money that is both inspiring and fun?

In February of this year, Watkins released my new book, Do the Work You Love. Here, I set out to answer this question and reveal that there are more options for inspiring, and lucrative, work than you may have thought.

First, you must identify your passion. Society teaches us to place considerations of finance (how much we get paid, what scope there is for promotion) above all else when selecting a job. However, what would happen if you were to broaden your criteria and also include enjoyment, fulfilment and aptitude for the role, when making your decision?

To start with, you might allow yourself to dream. Using the feelings of stimulation and fulfilment as a guide, you might consider options that you either never previously entertained, or hadn’t thought of in decades.

Having reconnected with your creativity, you might then be hit with a reality check. Who am I to do something exceptional or different, you might ask yourself. This kind of life is only for people who are born with an incredible talent or get lucky. However, as you continue your journey, you’ll soon discover that this isn’t the case.

Consider the story of Clark Little. Once the manager of a botanical garden, he started making a living from his passion simply by spending more time on one of his hobbies.

Clark loved to surf. Living on one of the Hawaiian Islands, he had every opportunity to do so and when his wife brought home a calendar featuring pictures of waves breaking onto the shore, he was inspired. Now, instead of a surfboard accompanying him into the sea, it was a camera.

Months were spent snapping shots and eating waves as Clark found daring and unique positions to capture the shore break. After uploading these stunning images onto the internet, a television station in the UK ran a feature on him which led to a blossoming career. A book, exhibitions at the Smithsonian Museum and sponsorship deals with Nikon and Nike, all ensured that Clark now makes a living doing the work he loves.

Part of the key to Clark’s success was spending a lot of time in the ocean practising his photography. This might make you wonder about your own commitment. How much time must you spend on your potential passion to reach a level where people are prepared to pay for your product or service?

My advice is 20 hours a week. However, the question of how you’re going to create this time, in what is probably an already overloaded schedule, could present some issues.

You have three options. The first, for those comfortable with risk, is The Adventurer’s Path. Here, you quit your job as soon as possible and, regardless of your present financial situation, pursue your passion with an intensity that might produce rapid results.

The second, for those who prefer a more measured approach, is The Strategist’s Path. Here, using one of many strategies outlined in the book, you find a way of scaling back on your present working hours to free up time to dedicate to your passion.

Finally, for those that have no other option than to stick with their present job, there’s The Grinder’s Path. Here, you’ll be introduced to numerous time management strategies that will enable you to free up the requisite 20 hours a week.

Whichever path and passion you choose, understand that making a living from the work you love is a way of life accessible to everyone. It takes hard work, a willingness to experiment and, above all, a mind unrestrained by conventional thinking.

Find out more:

Joe Barnes lives what he writes. Since graduating from the University of Manchester, he has followed his inspiration and forged a successful career doing what he loves: as a tennis coach, then a hypnotherapist, and now as an author, a speaker and a life coach.


Do the Work You Love: How to Create an Income Without Working a Boring Job by Joe Barnes, published by Watkins, paperback (208 pages).

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