Musings and Messages from the Lake

It’s hard to think about work while on vacation, much less write about it. But I will because it’s my turn.

Some of you know me. For those who don’t, I travel through life with a Nikon camera over my shoulder and a German shepherd dog underfoot. Staples for me.

During the day, I am an HR practitioner at a college in Michigan. I am fortunate; I really love my job. I work with amazing people and get to do very cool stuff. I haven’t always been in jobs, with amazing people, doing work that I loved. Sometimes it paid the bills. And that’s what was needed at the time.

Laurie Ruettiman wrote a fabulous piece about essentially forgetting passion, just do your work. I am paraphrasing, but it is a really good post. I see too many articles on Twitter, in career advice columns, from so-called experts (who isn’t an expert these days?), advising you to do what you love and are passionate about.  

This notion has always made me a bit uncomfortable; as if you aren’t doing what you love, finding your passion, experiencing joy in your work, then YOU are doing something wrong. Your job doesn’t have to, nor should it, fill ever bodily void of curiousity, creativity and wonder. That’s what cameras are for. Or whatever your own interests may be.

I whole-heartily embrace Kahlil Gibran’s perspective on work from the Prophet,

You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.  

Work gives me structure, a sense of accomplishment and contribution, a place for me to give and get. With a fair amount of down time the last few weeks, I reflected on two questions: 

What am I doing when I lose track of time and hours feel like seconds?

What am I doing when I think that I am going to die of complete and utter boredom before the world ends? When time stands still?

I love these questions.  They make me think and, in a curious way, help me to say “No” when approached to do something where perhaps I feel obligated. They are my litmus test.

Time flies when … I pick up my camera, sit on my beach, play with my dog. Whips by like it’s on steroids. Any time I sit and talk with a colleague or an employee, work with teams, collaborate on new ideas around technology or workflow, the end of the day has already passed. Any time I get to talk to students, present in a class, do some advising, or listen to dreams and hopes around careers, it’s the blink of any eye. I get energized just thinking about it.

The world stops spinning when … I am cleaning the bathrooms, culling through painful details of complex immigration instructions or sitting in meetings where I know nothing will happen or get resolved until the meeting AFTER the meeting. Suffocatingly still. Each minute is an hour. Or two.

But it’s manageable because I have all the good stuff. The dog.  The camera. Other stuff. Most days, the good stuff makes the dreadful stuff quite tolerable. Time away allows me to recharge and refresh; coming back to meetings and details will be okay.  

So here’s to hoping you get to do a little of what you love wherever you are.

Photo by Deirdre Honner

About the Author

Deirdre Honner

Deirdre Honner is a human resources professional working in higher education. She has a master's degree and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. Deirdre is a social media junkie and has presented locally, regionally and nationally on job-hunting strategies, social media and networking tools and the integration of both. Deirdre blogs about work at The HR Maven and you can connect with her on Twitter as @theHRmaven.


Deirdre Honner

Krista, I agree! I am so fortunate to have a job, a college and people I love. Where I take issue is when ‘experts’ criticize those who aren’t/can’t be in jobs and companies infused with passion. As if it’s their fault.

I love my job. I love my life outside of my job too.

Krista Francis

I think one’s approach to work is a personal, individualized thing. If I got laid off, I would do what I needed to pay the bills, even if I hated my new job. But as long as I have the freedom to work where I want to work, it is important to me to have passion for what I do and to feel that what I do makes some kind of difference in the world. But that’s just me, little Ms. NFP (Myers-Briggs). It doesn’t mean that I love every aspect of my job (safety committee, meetings that drag, people who don’t put their dirty dishes away, etc., etc.) but overall I am passionate about HR, my industry, my company.

When employees are passionate about what they do, it seems to me it’s a win for them and a win for the organization.


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