On finding what you love…

“From my experience, you can’t wait around to find what you love. You gotta work your ass off. And then you find what you love by doing piles and piles of work.”
– Kate Bingaman Burt

Kate Bingaman Burt, Illustrator speaking at CreativeMornings/Portland (*watch the talk)

12 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Thank you for reminding me that!

  2. I went back and watched the whole video.

    I think it’s important to be careful with the word “work”.

    Work, at least by my definition, is NOT a good thing.

    When Kate Bingaman Burt goes out and takes pictures of boxes of free junk, that’s not work. When she draws all her receipts, that’s not work. When she takes pictures of every person who shops at Target, that’s not work.

    Those are things she’s naturally inclined to do. Those things aren’t necessarily pleasurable. They are simply things she can’t help doing. Feeling compelled to do them is authentic for her.

    Acting on an inner compulsion is not work. Obsession is not work. Curiosity is not work. Wondering is not work. Feeling is not work. Impatience is not work.

    Here’s how I define work:

    “Work” -verb Doing any activity that you are not naturally inclined or personally compelled to do. Coerced action.

    Assembling Apple motherboards in a crowded factory IS work. Staying up to three o’clock in the morning with a teething baby is work. Making sales calls when you hate making sales calls is work.

    Kate doesn’t work. And she shouldn’t. In fact, it is BECAUSE she doesn’t work, that she is authentic, interesting, and successful.

    So, the next time someone says you should do X, ask yourself: would doing X be natural for me? Or would it be going against who I am? If you don’t know the answer to those two questions, consider doing it, but if you realize after doing it that it isn’t natural for you, stop.

    If bookkeeping is not natural for you, don’t bookkeep. If managing people is not natural for you, don’t manage people. If going to networking events is not natural for you, don’t go to networking events.

    Find someone else to do these things. Trade what you do naturally for what someone else does naturally. Find someone for whom bookkeeping is natural. Find someone for whom managing is natural. Find marketing techniques (if you can) that are natural to you.

    Build your life and your work around who YOU are. Not the reverse.

    Don’t work. It’ll hold you back.

  3. Sort of the opposite approach to your 5 regrets post you shared earlier.

  4. @Ted, Interesting and good points. But many people want to work because of the reward. And many like working hard for the sake of having a productive day. Still many (probably too many) simply may not have the resources or infrastructure necessary for them to do what they are inclined to do. Actually, I like your last line rather much and I think one’s “North Star navigation system” should use that as a major component, but…to each their own.

  5. Who is it that said, find something you love and you never have to work again…….

  6. this is lovely but obviously not practical for many, this works for those lucky enough to be born into money, cultural capital, emotional support etc. and those that can follow their heart should feel very very blessed.

  7. exactly what i needed to start my monday.

  8. @Ted, really enjoyed your comments and thoughts. Of course sometimes easier said than done, but we can all strive for something better if we really want to.

  9. Ted, I couldn’t have put it better myself.

  10. Absolutely the right words I needed today.

  11. Good clarifications Tina! Have you ever read or watched anything by Marcus Buckingham, the career coach? What you said about work reminds me of how he defines strengths: not necessarily things you’re good at (e.g. skills you’ve developed, or tasks jobs have made you get better at), but things that make you feel strong. A critical distinction, right? Internal, not external. Easier said than done, of course–and even freelancers have to submit invoices, sigh–but a really helpful measuring stick for evaluating whether you’re doing the right things.

    Or more concisely, if you say TGIF, you’re in the wrong job.