“Does this make sense?” I asked, “Is this whole idea stupid??”
I stared at the whiteboard with something mildly resembling a funnel scribbled floor to ceiling. “Like, there’s no way a CEO is going to open these emails. I don’t even open my emails. I hate junk mail. I’m literally writing a campaign for the thing I hate most. Maybe we should do direct mail instead?”
I kept ranting for a few minutes to my friend Felipe, standing behind me. I drug him into the small conference room at 6:30PM because I needed to “brainstorm.”
It wasn’t much of a brainstorm. It was more me arguing with me, killing every idea I threw up on that damn wall. But even though it was evening, and I’m sure he wanted to get back to his own desk so he wasn’t stuck at the office until ten, he didn’t complain.
Felipe never complains about anything.
I tied my hair up in a knot without the use of a hair tie—like I always do when I’m stressed. Finally, Felipe stood up and told me this:
“Kara. Always remember, we are here because it is fun. No matter how many deadlines we have, no matter how stressful things get, everything we do should be fun.”
It was the first time anyone ever told me that.
It took thirteen years to realize that whatever I do for a paycheck doesn’t have to make me miserable.
I started working when I was fourteen. I washed dishes at a local pub three miles from my house. It was far from glamorous. After every shift, I had to scrub my entire body and scalp to get the grease off. Never again will so much of my budget go toward loofahs.
My career went in every possible direction. I worked for a clothing store, a blog, too many restaurants to count, an investment firm, a marketing agency, multiple start-ups, and myself. I bartended, wrote, photographed, learned Salesforce.com like a mastermind, and got Series 7 certified (the license allowing stockbrokers to trade in the United States).
I worked for thirteen years and never once did someone tell me it was all for fun. There were times when I certainly enjoyed myself. I loved working for a Paleo start-up, particularly when they fed me. My friends Sophie and Erica made working a total blast, even though we collectively hated the company behind our paycheck. Even working in investments—far from my inner calling—gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment, mainly because I had the best boss in the world.
But I never thought of it as fun.
Whatever your purpose is, pursue it. And never forget to enjoy the pursuit.
Felipe, if you know him, is the loveliest human being to ever walk the face of this planet. You know how I know that? Because the only time the word lovely comes out of this mouth is when describing Felipe. He’s the kind of person who makes everyone else smile—even someone with terrible RBF like me. In the time we worked together, he tap-danced down the hallway, made me a magic wand, and proposed to our copywriter, Bill.
Felipe made working FUN.
It took thirteen years to clue me in on the fact that work didn’t have to make me miserable. Quite the opposite, actually. From Felipe’s standpoint, creating, whiteboarding, brainstorming, and building something great was fun. If we worked ten or twelve hours a day, whatever we did between those hours should be a freaking blast.
I never once saw Felipe leave the office before 8PM. There were nights I came back from a workout to collect my things, and there he was—full steam ahead in InDesign. And why shouldn’t he? You wouldn’t leave the bar early when you’re having a great night, would you? What’s the rush in heading home when you’re having the time of your life?
Name one good reason why you shouldn’t enjoy what you do.
There are few people I can name who have an absolute blast doing what they do. The couple who owns the gym I go to must love every aspect of their careers. I know Bill and Hayley, my former bosses, love their jobs so much it feels like retirement. I’m pretty sure both my parents have fun doing what they do.
You should LOVE what you do. You should make lifelong friends with your coworkers. You should have fun between the hours of eight and five. Yes, having fun at your job is a rarity, but it doesn’t have to be.