January 2020

Working to live pays off.

If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. This adage, which has been credited to or paraphrased by everyone from Confucius to Mark Twain, can seem like an oversimplification that ignores the hard work people put in every day. But is it?

This month, Sean Collier and Amy Whipple introduce us to six people who do what they love, even though it doesn’t pay the bills. What drives them — or anyone for that matter — to choose their passion over profit?

Some people work to live and others live to work. The people who work to live put energy into their jobs and can be highly successful. But their passion lies in their time away from work. It could be travel, a hobby or volunteering.

These are the people who challenge the idea that if we love what we do, it doesn’t seem like work. Just do an online search of the topic and you will find skeptics pontificating about how “work” is not “play” and while they like their jobs, they don’t find them fun. They wonder what happens if what you love turns into your job — will you love it as much? They note that every job has downsides and if you love your job, you could find yourself spending more hours at work than is necessary. Plus, they have practical concerns about the real-life demands of making enough money to have a comfortable standard of living.

All of which are valid points — if you work to live.

For people who live to work, it’s a different story. The six subjects of the feature story explore their passions because they need to create, to inspire others, to connect with community and to express themselves. Financial reward often takes a backseat to job satisfaction. “Starving artists” value money; they just value happiness more.

It’s a privilege when we can love what we do. Leaving the Post-Gazette to start a community newspaper, which had always been my dream, was a risk, one which ultimately didn’t pay off for me. But do I regret the decision? Not at all. When I knew I had to look for another job, I started applying for media relations positions around town until I was asked, “Is this what you want to do?” I knew the answer was “no.” So I shifted gears and decided that day to only look for a job I would love. And I found this one that very week.

Brian Hyslop can be reached at ​bhyslop@pittsburghmagazine.com or 412/304-0921.

Categories: Editor