Do you have to LOVE your job to be happy?

by Erika Torres

love-my-jobIf there’s any piece of advice I would offer a recent college graduate, it would be this: Don’t believe the hype; you don’t have to love your job to be happy.

Your end goal should be to find a job that will keep you happy enough, while providing you with the money that is necessary to do the things that you want in life.

Before deciding on a career, come up with a plan that determines where you want to be in life.

Do you want to retire early?

Do you want to travel every year?

Planning, branding yourself, and researching which careers can help you attain your financial goals is much more important than finding something that you love to do.

I’m not sure where this idea came from–that you had to love your job in order to be happy. It sure is an optimistic idea. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone loved their job and we would all look forward to spending our time working and the world would be filled with rainbows and butterflies.

But how realistic is it?

Is it physically possible for every single person on this planet to love their job? Frankly, there are jobs that need to be done everywhere in the world and they may not be the most pleasurable of jobs but they need to be done, right?

Like meter maids. Everyone hates meter maids. Maybe there are some meter maids that love giving people meter tickets, but for the most part, have you ever met a happy meter maid?

I always get kind of annoyed when I read articles about the importance of finding a job you love or when I hear advice about “if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Why can’t it be enough to have a job that is just okay? Is not enough to have a job that pays your bills? That perhaps lets you afford things that you love to do?

I am not talking about hating your job. Nobody wants to work at a job they hate, but can’t there be a happy medium between loving and hating your job?

For example, I like my job. For the most part, I like my co-workers and I like what I do.

But do I love it? Do I look forward to being at work at 7:30 every morning? Would I do it if they didn’t pay me?

No, absolutely not.

My job allows me to afford things that do make me happy, like traveling. My 9/80 job schedule allows me to have three-day weekends every other week, which I love. My company pays me to bike to work, which I love. My job allows me to retire at 55 and receive a pension, which I love. My job pays for graduate school, which I love.

So is it enough to think your job is just okay but love what it allows you to do on your time off?

My ultimate dream job would be to travel and review local alcoholic beverages and blog about it but so far I haven’t found any takers.

Do you love your job? Are you okay with not loving your job? 




Saturday Shoutouts (2/23/13) January 9, 2019 - 8:20 pm

[…] Do You Have to Love Your Job to Be Happy? at Newlyweds on a Budget […]

Nic February 21, 2015 - 9:57 pm

The things is, if you love your job, you won’t think of it as a job, a means to an end or just a source of income, but a source of happiness. There’s a difference when you just get by, than when you are truly happy about what you are doing. It makes everything you earn or buy worth it.

Why I'll Never Quit My Day Job | Newlyweds on a Budget June 4, 2014 - 5:04 pm

[…] I’ve always said that I don’t love my job. […]

Sarah Park February 24, 2013 - 12:50 am

I don’t think that you really have to love your job in order to be happy. It is more important that you love the people you work with and have a harmonious working relationship with them.

Frugal(er) February 20, 2013 - 11:23 am

THANK YOU! I feel like this whole “follow your passion” “must love your job” nonsense is seriously hurting people. It took me forever to figure out what to do with my life because I never had a job that I loved enough to want to move up the ranks, and because I always got overwhelmed thinking that there was a job out there that I’d love, but I just wasn’t aware of it yet.

I feel like it’s like getting married, in a way. Yes, passion is great, but at the end of the day, you have to marry someone you can life with. I can live with a job I don’t love as long as the rest of my life is fulfilling and my job pays the bills.

Lily February 20, 2013 - 7:24 am

Wouldn’t life be easier and happier overall if Every Single Person loved their job? Of course. And yet, that just is not possible or realistic. I agree with several other commenters that merely “liking” a job can often be good enough, as it gives you the means to enjoy so many other parts of life (via flexible hours, decent salary, etc.).

However, one other thought occurred to me…this debate is only an issue of those who are privileged. As you stated, there are many jobs throughout the world that may not be pleasurable, but they still need to get done. It seems offensive for a person to declare from the proverbial ivory tower (of education, privilege, and opportunity) that all others ought to make this effort to LOVE THEIR JOB, because otherwise they are wasting their life and will have regrets (to be clear, you, Erika, were not doing this at all!). For the people in the poverty-stricken countries or areas (both in the U.S. and elsewhere), a job is a means to survival. “Liking” or “loving” a job is probably not even a consideration, much less an option in a potentially flexible situation.

Jordann @ My Alternate Life February 20, 2013 - 5:09 am

Ahh I love this post and totally agree. Loving your job is a fairly new concept, and one that I find funny. Even fifty years ago, loving your job didn’t even factor into the equation when looking for employment. A steady wage with good treatment, and maybe pension was considered amazing.

I don’t love my job. I like it. Sure there are days that I’m totally engaged and can work for eight hours without taking a break, and yes sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea for work, but generally speaking, I just like it, no more, and I’m completely ok with that.

shannon February 19, 2013 - 7:29 pm

This one is hard. I think you spend so much time at work. I’m sure anyone would love to just get paid to be rich but that isn’t the case. I think there is a gray area in between LOVING and Liking a job and it also just depends on what type of job it is. Some jobs I do believe you have to love it to make it through the day. Since I HATE my job at this point I would just like a job that I like:)

Akirah February 19, 2013 - 6:59 am

I think it depends on what you value most. For me, I really hope I love my job. Or, I hope I like it enough and it give me the money I need in order to do a job on the side that I actually do love. I want to be a therapist though, so I anticipate I will love my job and clients most days. But being in the profession I’m in, it would be difficult for me to continue if I didn’t love it. So, I think this is very individualized.

Emily February 19, 2013 - 6:38 am

This is such an interesting topic. I really wonder what most people I know think. I don’t love my job. It has made me wonder if bringing in the dough (to finance trips & other things I love) would be good? Or if doing something a lot less stressful and being able to love the other things in my life would keep me happy? I have a job in non-profit events that people who aren’t in the industry think it is like play-time for a cause. I think I add stress to liking work since people automatically think I should love every minute of my job.

Army Amy* February 19, 2013 - 4:53 am

You always come up with the most interesting topics! I would say that for 3 of my 5 years as a teacher, I loved it. We ended up getting a new principal, who I did not respect. (She told me I shouldn’t take so much time off of work to see my husband for the 2 weeks he was home from Afghanistan; not cool.) Once I got to the point where I didn’t respect her, it made it very hard to even enjoy my job. That plus the fact that it is an emotionally taxing profession caught up to me.

When we moved to Germany, I gleefully quit my job and I’m not a housewife. (Job prospects are low, and we are moving again soon, so no point in job hunting now.) That said, I wouldn’t even say that I love being a housewife. I need structure, I need to be busier. I’m hoping to find something part time when we move. (I told my husband that I want to work at Smoothie King to learn insider secrets and share my love of fruity beverages.)

Finance Inspired February 19, 2013 - 4:26 am

The way I see it we spend 5 days a week, 9-5pm working. Thats way over half of our life at work!!. If we don’t enjoy it, what sort of a life will you have lead if you have spent almost two thrids of it miserable?

Brian @ Luke1428 February 19, 2013 - 4:04 am

Love your spouse, your kids, your friends, your faith and your hobbies. These are worthy of falling in love with. Find a career you can find a certain level of satisfaction with and that helps provide and enhance life for those you love. If you end up loving your work, that’s icing on the cake.

Christne February 18, 2013 - 5:42 pm

I’m with you 100%. I was supposed to “love” my old job…but we all know how that turned out (if you don’t, here a hint. I lasted 4 years and then completely changed careers). I like my job now, and, like you, wouldn’t do it if they didn’t pay me. But I love the other things it allows me to do. Like be at home on weeknights and have opportunities for growth.

CeCe@Frugalista Married February 18, 2013 - 5:00 pm

I don’t think you have to love your job to be happy but you certainly can’t hate it and be happy. Eventually that hate will take its’ toll. It happened to me. I quit a job I hated and I still don’t make as much money as I did there and I’m okay with that as my sanity is more important then money! Not everyone will get to do what they love and work in a job that is their passion. That’s life.

pen|| new york nonsense February 18, 2013 - 4:21 pm

I will never understand the idea of living to work. People who work through their weekends and stay late at night It just doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve been laid off twice, and learned the hard way that business is business and you can’t get emotionally attached sometimes. Your job won’t be there when you’re 92, so live your life and work when you have to.

Kathleen, Frugal Portland February 18, 2013 - 3:45 pm

Exactly! And I think the expectation of love is one that will only lead to heartbreak. With jobs, that is. 🙂

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies February 18, 2013 - 2:56 pm

I’m not in love with my job, and neither is Mr. PoP. We’re both good at our jobs, which brings a certain level of satisfaction, but we definitely weren’t upset about having a three-day weekend this weekend. And if we truly LOVED our jobs, wouldn’t we be?

But at least we feel like we have a handle on what work demands from us, and what we’re demanding at work and have a game plan to have less work and more things we LOVE in the medium-term future.

Anne @ Unique Gifter February 18, 2013 - 2:24 pm

My spouse firmly believes that my SIL should be a bylaw enforcement officer (close relative of the meter maid), due to her hatred for law infringement related to littering, driving vehicles at all, and general OCD behaviour!

Tina @ My Shiny Pennies February 18, 2013 - 1:58 pm

I agree with Alex’s sentiments regarding job=happiness. I also think our society has a tendency to use the love word a little too freely with objects and ideas. I LIKE my job, and that’s enough for me.

TeacHer February 18, 2013 - 1:13 pm

To me it just makes no sense to spend 40-50 hours per week on work that you don’t love. I think it’s unrealistic to expect to love 100% of your job 100% of the time, but I don’t want to look back on my life and think about all that time I spent working (i.e., time away from friends and family and other interests) and not be able to think, “damn, I loved my work, and what I did made a difference.”

I think it’s setting the bar awfully low to aim for a job that’s just ok.

james moore April 19, 2013 - 7:59 am

would you do it if they didn’t not pay you.

Mo' Money Mo' Houses February 18, 2013 - 12:45 pm

Hmm I’ve gotta say I sort of disagree. I think it’s important to love your job because even if you are in a happy medium (you like your job, it’s ok) you may eventually start to hate it. Plus since you will be spending most of your life working, it’s probably best to do something you love than something that is just ok and pays the bills. Just my two cents anyways 🙂

melissa {persnickety plates} February 18, 2013 - 11:39 am

I very much agree that I work to live, not live to work. I don’t mind my job (there’s time for the occasional blog reading/commenting…) but I don’t look forward to coming here daily. I was never one of those people that just knew what they wanted to do with their life, work-wise, so I’m ok with not loving it, as long as I don’t hate it. Hating it would be terrible.

Kasey February 18, 2013 - 9:56 am

6 months ago I would dread going to work. Two coworkers drove me nuts to the point where I no longer wanted to work at the company. I also hated my outside life. Traffic sucked, over populated city, high cost of living. I was an unhappy and bitter person. I finally made the decision to change my life. Found a new job in a new state and hit restart on my life and I haven’t regretted one minute of it. I still don’t love my job but I like it enough and my coworkers are awesome. My ideal job that I would probably love to do does not make enough money to afford the lifestyle I live. So I gladly give that up to allow myself to love my life outside of work.

krantcents February 18, 2013 - 9:48 am

No one loves their job 100%. I am close though, I love my job 95% of the time. Let’s face it , it varies. My threshold is 51%, you should like your job more than you don’t. If you cannot meet that threshold, you should either leave the company or change careers. No one should hate their job or career more than they like it.

Stevie February 18, 2013 - 9:47 am

I’m so with you on this. I work to live, I don’t live to work. Sure, there are plenty of people who absolutely love their job and are completely fulfilled by it. But I’d rather have the time and money to be fulfilled by other things outside of work.

I also think it’s great that people can find a way to get paid to do what they love but at the same time, the instant you earn your first dollar doing something you love, it becomes a job.

I would prefer to put my hours in at work, earn a decent salary, then leave it all at the office at the end of the day so I can enjoy my life.

SavvyFinancialLatina February 18, 2013 - 8:47 am

Hah I often wonder if I’ll ever love my job. Like you, I like my job, it allows me to have a decent lifestyle, and No I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t get paid.

I know a lot of people in the pf world, insist if you don’t like you job you should quit and find your passion. Erghh…not sure what to think about this.

Work is work.

I think you have a pretty nice job because it allows you to retire at 55 with a pension. I didn’t know those kind of jobs existed.

Michelle February 18, 2013 - 8:14 am

Ha that sounds like my dream job too 😛

I don’t LOVE my job, but it is okay for now and I am happy. I am working on changing that and doing what I love though.

Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget February 18, 2013 - 8:13 am

This a topic that hits home right now. I think you’re right that it’s fine not to love work. After all, it’s freaking work (ps, I hate that “find a job you love” quote, too).

So I would say I like my work. Some days I love it. It allows me to be creative, keep a pulse on pop culture, work with super talented people, and am encouraged to present weird, off-the-wall ideas. Other days are tough. So what. The real hangup for us is that my work demands so much of my time and brain (not being able to leave work at work), that the money I earn from my job doesn’t really allow me to enjoy life. And therein lies the problem.

Loving/hating a job isn’t a major issue for me. But a job that takes over your life is.

Katrina February 18, 2013 - 8:10 am

I think there are some jobs out there that require you to love what you do, otherwise the job will chew you up and spit you out. For example, my husband is studying to become a pastor. We have realized that the demands of the job are so taxing that the only way he will be able to stay a pastor is if he’s truly passionate about it.

However, I agree with you that it is unrealistic to expect that everybody should love their job. I wouldn’t categorize my current career as my dream job, but it helps pay the bills and it’s not so emotionally draining that I can’t enjoy my time off.

Budget & the Beach February 18, 2013 - 7:51 am

My last full time job was a job I liked, and sometimes liked a lot, but never loved. It was pleasant and cushy, and that would have been totally fine with me because it afforded me enough free time to do hobbies that I did LOVE. So I think it’s totally ok.

Alex @ Brain, Body, Because February 18, 2013 - 7:42 am

I think the concept of “job = passion = happiness” is our society’s really depressing updated version of the American Dream.

I’m with you – I like my job enough, I like my coworkers, I like my paycheck. Would I do it for free? Hell, no. Do I like what it enables me to do? Yes. Because of my job, I can have a safe, comfortable apartment, take a trip, and buy things that I want/need.

I would rather work moderately hard and have a stable line of income than struggle to “make my dream come true.”


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