We’ve all heard the adage, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s a nice sentiment, and applying your passion to your profession is an attractive idea. It’s also flawed.
I love parts of my job, especially putting together and publishing this magazine. It’s the closest thing I’ve found to my brief and educational tenure as a college-aged gofer on a home remodeling crew. There’s the satisfaction of seeing your work progress day-to-day until the project is finished and you’re happy with the results. Being a journalist also is the only thing I’ve really ever wanted to do, after my dreams of an NBA career ended in junior high.
But some parts of my job, as with other aspects of my life, are less satisfying, verging on drudgery. No job (or life) is a picnic 100% of the time, and it’s unrealistic—even dangerous—to think it should be, or that if you’re occasionally unhappy in your job, you should find a different line of work. But I don’t think anyone should feel bad about “working” to realize their dreams; that effort—even the occasional frustration—should be expected, not shunned.
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Part of what feeds a passion is, in fact, the work behind it. You won’t convince me that a gifted athlete doesn’t appreciate (perhaps even relish) the effort it takes to achieve elite status, or that a sculptor doesn’t feel a rush when confronted with a raw block of stone.
I like to think most home builders “love” what they do and find personal value and validation in completing a project, selling a home, or owning a business, beyond the financial rewards it brings—that they are following a passion. But I’ve been around enough builders, and have heard from hundreds more, to know that they, like all of us at times, get to a point where they ask if it’s all worth it.
Is It All Worth It?
As the housing industry experiences a market correction with slowing demand and activity this year, I suspect more home builders will be asking that question (if they haven’t already). But I believe if you are truly passionate about providing safe, quality, comfortable homes in your community, you’ll power through these challenging times—just as you did during the pandemic and maybe even the last (and far worse) recession, if you were around back then—and find satisfaction in both the effort and the results.
That effort will likely require you to rethink some of your standard practices and your relationships with suppliers and skilled trade partners, as well as landowners, lenders, and customers, and maybe even your own staff. You don’t have to love that part of your job, but hopefully you’ll consider those challenges as opportunities to fulfill and sustain your passion.
As for adages that set more realistic expectations, I like Teddy Roosevelt’s sage insight: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” And with that, I wish you a happy, healthy, and worthwhile 2023.