Do what you love . . love what you do


When I submitted the final, final edits for the second edition of WordPress For Dummies today – I breathed a tremendously huge sigh of relief. There is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment to carry you through to the next day. This was a big project – – just as it was the first time around, and having it finished, finally not only lifts a great big weight off the ol’ shoulders…but it made me reflect a bit. As I’m uploading the last and final files..I could feel myself physically relax. I sat back and thought – – I really do love what I do.

I’ve held several jobs in my lifetime. Some I liked, some I didn’t. Jobs like:

  • McDonalds (would you like fries with that? yea, that was me)
  • Disc Jockey for a local, polka radio station (yep. Polka)
  • Lead singer in a local R&B band
  • Waitress at a local greasy spoon
  • Bartender at a local night club… a local bowling alley..and a local 5-star restaurant – – simultaneously!
  • Secretary…receptionist…data entry clerk
  • Community organizer for the local Chamber of Commerce
  • Nursing Assistant
  • Registered Nurse (my longest… that career spanned 10 years, or so)
  • Web and graphic designer and web host (current)
  • Author (also current)

Some of those jobs were held out of neccessity. I didn’t really like them – but they paid the bills, so I tolerated them.
Some of those jobs were stepping stones to other jobs (nursing assistant – to – registered nurse, for example).

Growing up, I was always told to do what I love. Find something you’re good at and make a living out of it.. you’ll be happier. Unfortunately, starting out as a young adult – – the job that I loved didn’t pay the bills (the R&B singer gig). So I had to move on to a job that DID pay the bills . . leaving me absolutely NO time to do the job that I love.


At the age of 24, I graduated from nursing school with a degree in nursing and sat for the board exams to obtain my Registered Nurse licensure. I was pretty much set for life in an industry that paid well and offered a great deal of job security. I pretty much thought I would be a nurse until the day I retire.

Until I started tinkering around with graphic design and CSS and began to dabble in code. I found a great hobby that allowed me to de-stress and blow off steam after long, hard days of work in the hospital. It was a creative outlet that I soon began to realize was soothing the savage beast. Design satisfied the creative side of me… something I had lost when I walked away from music, so many years ago. It would be many years before I began to make a few bucks at it – – and several more years before I could make a living from it.

Although, I never once thought I would make a living with it – – always assuming that nursing would be where I would stay for my entire working life. Nursing was one of those ok jobs. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. It was . . . fine. I was good at it – – excelled in it, really – and took pride in that fact. But I wasn’t doing what I loved… nor was I loving what I did.

I am a true believer that if you do not love what you do – – it shows through at the end of the day. People can start to see it in your work, no matter what it is. For me? I didn’t want to get to that point in nursing – – nothing worse than being cared for by a nurse who doesn’t like what she’s doing, eh?

Today, with my design career and, most recently, book writing gig — I can truly say that I finally love what I do.. and am doing what I love. I make a decent living at it, and I’m very thankful for that….and grateful that I don’t have to focus my attentions and time on other side jobs in order to make ends meet, like I used to. I can really focus on what I enjoy doing and what I’m good at.

Are you doing what you love…and loving what you do? If not – are you working towards that end? It’s not an easy thing, no doubt. First priorities are putting food on the table and paying those bills – which, like me, forced you into jobs that you don’t really like – – but become a necessary evil as a means to and end. When I opted to quit my nursing career to pursue design, I really had to spend a lot of time to take a real, long hard look at where I was at, and where I wanted to be. If the day comes that I’m no longer happy with design — I will take a similar look and, hopefully, will be able to make changes where I can pursue that lofty goal of loving what I do..and doing what I love.

For me, it took a great deal of time, struggle, sleepless nights and endless days . . but I got there. And yet, I still wonder if I’ll be doing the same thing next year? If I’m lucky enough, I will be.

And on that note – I shall finally sleep. ‘Nite!

25 thoughts on “Do what you love . . love what you do”

  1. I could have written this post. I am a teacher. It’s not a bad job, but it was not what I loved. I love design and writing and so I took a leave so that I can do what I love. People told me to do that from the beginning- design, but I never thought that I could make a living off of it. That is until I took a long look at where I was…. It is just like you said.
    I totally could have written this post.

  2. Kristina – thank you for stopping by. Good to hear that you were able to take that step. It’s funny – with design, I really didn’t start making a living in it until I took that tremendous leap to quit my day job. Once I was able to 100% focus on the design and my work – – it all started to come together. The key was taking that step to begin with. I figured.. nursing would always be there, so I jumped. Luckily – I haven’t crashed yet 🙂

    Congrats to you 😀

  3. I totally agree with the sentiment behind loving what you do and doing what you love. It’s an ideal situation. Not everyone is there. Like you, Lisa, I’ve gone through the gamut of jobs from selling beer to book keeping, and now coding for the web.

    Where does political revolution, or real, radical, social change? Does love for one’s work prevent the progress of freedom?

  4. 😕 After a year of retirement, I had the opportunity to something I really, really, enjoy. I went back to work for 6 months at the place I retired from — and they hired me back, on contract, to do the part of the job I really loved! However, I’ve only got two weeks left on the contract — this time! there’s a really good chance that I’ll be back.

    As a kid, I was pretty introverted. When I was in high school, I hated getting up in front of the class for anything and Speech class was terrible. Who would have thought that would change so drastically!

    From age 20 up until 55 when I retired, I had exactly two employers: the US Navy and a nuclear power plant in the south. The last 40 months in the Navy I was an instructor. After getting out, I went to work as a nuclear power plant operator in 1980. In 1983, I went to the Training Department where I worked until I retired in 2007. Love the work I do? Sure! including getting up in front of the classroom and facilitating the class.

    ….Mike, from the Land of NOD, Arkansas

  5. Don’t you breath in too deep, from the looks of the WP gang, they will be on version 3.0 soon enough and you’ll be back at the books again for a follow up (I hope). I will check out your latest release once it’s published.


  6. I feel like the future “me” could have written this. I started out a web designer, ended up a nurse, and now would like to get back into web design. The funny thing is that if WordPress and blogs had existed in the late nineties, it’s quite possible that I never would have become frustrated at web design and switched to nursing.

  7. Pingback: Nurse + Blog = PixelRN

  8. Hey, great post on work…there are times at work when I feel the same way, just kind of stuck in the office. However when I am given a camera and sent out to shoot something I get really excited.

  9. Pingback: Dennis Rogers has been thinking » Blog Archive » I am sad to say, I got things mixed up

  10. I find myself in a sort of opposite effect right now. I mean I started studying computer science because I do love computers and coding. But when I have to work on it I get so sucked up into that world that I neglect everything else. I have been about 24+ hours almost straight with only a few gaps of sleep when I sit down to program. Worse still is the fact I tend to go it alone even ON a team, not because I am not a team player but rather because once I sit down I can’t stop until I KNOW I got the coding right. So now I find myself into a situation where one of my hobbies becomes sort of a slave driver for me. So then I decided to move it to a complete hobby: program for myself and the things I like such as games or fun applications. However I am not even currently doing that, spending more time in the designing department before I even begin to create whatever I am planning with my team.

    So basically now I figure I found something I am good at and I probably will enjoy and won’t be a slave driver: law. More specifically State Attorney for prosecution of Federal crimes. I guess I got this fascination since I started serving as a federal juror. Its really fascinating. Sometimes it seems like taken out of a Miami Vice or a mobster movie. Some cases are very intricate, well most of them are, after all most Federal crimes are like that.

    And so I decided to shift to something that I love for work and keep my other love for a hobby.

  11. I can’t find a contact information… you know if I was someone spamming some really nonsensical thing like: Great blog! Without even reading it I’d fully understand you cutting off my comments. But the fact I subscribed and do read your posts before commenting and that you keep cutting them out is what I can’t understand. Any reasons for this?

    If I hadn’t read this how would I know you had a bunch of jobs you didn’t like, or that you wanted to be a singer, or that you got into being a nurse and it was an ok job but something you didn’t really love or that you began to dabble in code and CSS becoming an outlet for your creativity? What you thought I just scan through it?

    And then I post my opinion of what is happening to me of how computer science even though I love it isn’t what I’d like to work on it and for some reason you simply cut me off without even giving me a reason. Am I posting something bad? Am I doing something wrong?

  12. I’m finally doing what I love, and love what I’m doing. I did a whole range of jobs in a few years. Most of them were to pay the bills.
    Not my wife has a well paying job, so I can finally do what I love, without the thought in the back of my mind “what if I don’t make enough money”.

    I design, code and have a few side-projects.. and I’m absolutely loving it.

  13. @Barce and @Mike – sounds like the two of you are doing something you really enjoy, that is great! Mike.. good for you in overcoming that fear of public speaking.. I haven’t quite gotten there yet 😉

    @Frosty – yes, the WP dev folks do keep me on my toes, for sure 🙂

    @Beth – sounds like we have a bit in common in that regard.

    @Simon – sounds like you need to get behind the camera a bit more often!

    @Mark – what’s not to love about design and coding ? 😉

    @Issac – I moderate comments on this blog. If you haven’t left a comment here before, then your comments go into the moderation queue until I have the chance to review and approve them. It’s been a busy week – I just found the time now 🙂 Welcome!

  14. Good evening,

    I just bought WordPress For Dummies today and had to stop in and say thanks. Great Book and I’m learning a lot of tweaks. Great website too and I’ll be stopping by often.


  15. Lisa:

    First, forgive my poor English skills.

    I completely agree with everything you said. I worked for Marriott for 7 loooonnnnggggg years on something I did not like it at all.

    Now, I’m unemployed for almost 2 months. Unfortunately, it’s been hard to me to find a computer related job.

    I was so interested on “Blogging” that today I went to Barnes & Noble bookstore and I found your book in one of the top shelves. I’m sorry, but due to my financial situation I can’t afford to buy your book:((, so I read it at B&N. Let me tell you, good you quit that nursing job. I learned a lot in just a few reading hours, thanks to you and B&N. Lisa, I promise you to buy your book, as soon as I get a job. Keep doing what you like to do, and off course you are doing an excellent job.

    I have some ideas about the spanish speaking niche on internet that so far has not been exploited and would like your opinions about it.

    Take care.


  16. Hi Lisa,

    I read your book, WordPress for dummies and was inspired to get involved. But I’m still not too sure at what level?

    With regards to your blog above I can compare to whereby my current job pays the bills, but it is not something i want to do for the rest of my life. Yes it pays really well, but i’ve been doing it for 8 years and it’s time to move on. I’ve given myself a 2 year plan. I’ve been messing around with web design / development for 8 months now and as you’ve stated in your book there are three areas to go into. Disregarding the last one I’m left with web design or web development. Is it possible to do both really well? Personally I’m more of a geeky type of guy but i would like to get to know graphic design and am easily amazed with some of the stuff you can do in Photoshop. Afterall, what’s the point of being able to put a website together if it doesn’t look good? I am impressed with some of the graphics you do for your clients, but it is all built on WordPress which is another skill in itself.

    Looking at my question,, you’ll probably just tell me to learn everything. I’d love to have the time to be able to do that, but i don’t.

    I appreciate your advice,


    Pat Jennings.

  17. @Pat – thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. I’m not sure what to say to your question. I’m inclined to say that if you don’t have to time to learn the skills really well – then don’t bother.

    On the other hand – – if you learn how to do graphic design really well, there are services and developers out there who will take your nicely designed PSD file and slice it and code it for use in WordPress, or any other CMS platform.

    Likewise, if you want to learn the development piece, instead of the design piece – – then you could offer services whereby you do the slicing and coding for someone elses PSD designs.

    It all really depends on what your own goals are. Good luck, either way 🙂

  18. @Javier – I’m glad the book was helpful to you, whether or not you were able to purchase it. Happy to hear the Barnes n’ Nobel in your area carried the book. Thanks!

  19. Hi Lisa:

    Great inspirational message. One of the unfortunate things here in the States is our health insurance situation. I read that a huge percentage of the people in the US have jobs they don’t like, but the fear of losing their health insurance keeps them trapped in place.

    When I left my last position to start my own business, this was one of the costs I had to absorb. It’s a huge cost, but one I felt I needed to handle in order to do what I love. I have a feeling that if our insurance situation in the US were to change, a lot of people would be leaving their jobs, and improving their health and well being in the process.


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