The popular phrase meant to guide your decisions through the weeds of life to the garden of self-fulfillment is more harmful than helpful. Firstly, doing what you love is simply not an option for everyone, such as families living in disadvantaged communities, and it is condescending to insist that work not done out of love is somehow less valuable. And for those who already work in professions that might not be entirely enjoyable, from police officers to surgeons, it would be irresponsible were these posts to be abandoned in pursuit of simply fulfilling one’s personal desires.
What’s the Big Idea?
Consider the small group of individuals who are taken as paragons of our society for their work in securing truth and justice for the many. “The Nelson Mandelas, Dietrich Bonhoeffers and Martin Luther Kings did not organize their lives around self-fulfillment and bucket lists.” Instead, they did what they thought needed to be done for society rather than for themselves. In decades past, when families were larger and depended on a single bread-winner, it would have been unthinkable to pursue self-fulfillment at the expense of a larger purpose. Instead of asking ourselves “What should I do with my life?” we should instead ask “For what purpose am I living?”