5.25.2007

Doing What You Love

There's a saying that goes, "Do what you love for a living and you'll
never work a day in your life." I subscribe to this philosophy, and
thankfully I've been able to apply it to my life.

But not in the way you'd think. For most people, how this works is
that they love helping people, or gardening, or building things, and
so they find jobs where they get to do those things for a living.

What is the thing I love doing? Making spreadsheets. Now, there are
no such clubs at your typical high school, no annual conferences that
gather people who are like me. Maybe a couple of years ago, I
wouldn't have told you this is what I love doing, even if I had a
suspicion it was true.

But it's true. A couple of years ago, I decided to make a budget for
our family, which at the time was adding our daughter. This seemed
totally reasonable - having kids introduces all sorts of new financial
issues, like saving for college, and not necessarily being able to
work full-time, and buying diapers and clothes and toys.

Only I soon realized that I wasn't constructing this budget because it
would help our family make good financial decisions. I was
constructing it because it was fun. I ran the budget out to the year
2063. I rigged it so I could plug in different numbers for inflation
and for increases in health care costs. I even fixed it so that at
the push of a button, I could see what my bottom line looked like at
different retirement ages.

In short, I went way beyond the realm of what was necessary for the
stated purpose, simply because it was fun to do. And since I finished
this piece of work, I've maybe looked at it twice - because the point
wasn't to actually use it as much as to enjoy making it. Kind of like
Legos.

So it's been pretty humorous that I've found a job where I do a lot of
financial modeling. And not just for straight-forward things like
personal budgets or business income statements, but for somewhat
unconventional uses, like urban housing and casinos and public
transit. I get to make spreadsheets for a living, and each day seems
to present a new and interesting challenge.

So count me among the lucky ones who do what they love. Even if what
I love isn't the norm.

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