Do What You Love

Steve Jobs, Kahlil Gibran, Joseph Campbell and Paul Graham — say the same thing.

Mo Issa
5 min readJan 16, 2024
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.” — Steve Jobs.

All my heroes — Steve Jobs, Kahlil Gibran, Joseph Campbell and Paul Graham — say the same thing.

Do What You love.

I get it. And yet it seems frustratingly difficult, if not elusive.

At 54, I find it hard to love the business that makes me money and harder to make a business from the work that I love.

These 5 steps have helped me to find and do more of what I love:

1. Accept that it’s possible to love your work and make money out of it.

Like most, I was brought up in a way that divided my day between play and school. Play was fun, but school wasn’t.

When I grew up, my day was again split up by some play and doing grown-up things, like work. So when I’m at work, it’s serious. I’m doing it for a reason, a means to an end — to raise a family, get shelter and put food on the table. I worked for money, and loving my work was not an option.

I’m envious of many entrepreneurs who have found the right balance between work and play. In that, they have created companies where they get to love their work and become rich from it.

But that wasn’t my programming.

So the first step, as in anything, must be to be aware and accept that IT IS POSSIBLE to make money while doing the work you love.

It’s not an either/or.

2) Start with what interests you

“If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.” — Joseph Campbell.

Finding what you love and making money don’t usually happen instantly. Few leave college, find what they love, and then spend the rest of their lives doing so.

Instead, we become interested in some area and then go on to develop that interest. For example, a kid grows up interested in programming computers and then, over the years, creates the first personal computer called the ‘Apple Macintosh.’

Conversely, I could never last in a career in accounting, no matter how much money it can make me. I just have no interest.

So the second step is to position yourself in an area you like, or like Campbell said, ‘on a kind of track,’ waiting for you to find your bliss.

3. Do the work!

“ Always produce. For example, if you have a day job you don’t take seriously because you plan to be a novelist, are you producing? Are you writing pages of fiction, however bad? As long as you’re producing, you’ll know you’re not merely using the hazy vision of the grand novel you plan to write one day as an opiate. — Paul Graham.

We must remain consistent now that we’ve found what interests us and do the work. The discipline of doing the job over and over again means that we become better at it, which then makes it easier and more fun to do.

This consistency is crucial as it maintains our interest and gives us the self-confidence to produce good work. Life is a marathon and not a sprint.

4. Mastery & Love

When we start producing good work consistently, we start to admire what we do. The more we respect our work and ourselves in it we start to fall in love with our work. What do I mean by love? Kahlil Gibran explains:

And what is it to work with love?

It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.

It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.

It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.

It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,

Work is love made visible.

5. Beware of the perils

However, we need to be careful of certain mirages in our search for the work that we love. Whether we admit it or not, we are all affected by prestige and money. Prestige is the opinion and admiration of others and that is hard-wired in our DNA.

True, it’s not always negative, but when we start doing things to please others more than ourselves, we chase the wrong work. And when we start chasing money and not the actual work, again, we end up doing things we didn’t want to do in the first place.

When money is combined with prestige, then it becomes extremely dangerous. Careers like corporate law or medicine are precarious if you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Because it’s hard to leave as they are both admirable jobs that pay well.

However, at the end of the day, the real test of whether you love what to do is simple:

Would you do it for free?

Would you wake up every day in the morning, do your 8–12 hour shift and feel you want to do it again the next day, knowing that there is no money coming in.

From my own life, I know it’s not always easy to find yourself doing what you love. Paul Graham offers a caveat:

So, as you become more eminent, gradually increase the parts of your job that you like at the expense of those you don’t.

I love writing, speaking and teaching. I’d do it for free. However, I don’t earn enough from it to make a living. I like running my company, but it doesn’t always make my heart beat faster.

For now, I’m following Graham’s advise. When running my company, I will do more things I like and fewer of those I don’t. That will give me more time to up my game in the writing world.

Sooner or later, I will reach my destination of totally focusing on what I love to do.

What about you? Are you doing what you love?



Mo Issa

I rise daily at 5 am, meditate, read and journal on my Self-awareness journey. Some of my reflections make it to my blog; others don’t. (