I actually read this article when it was published at Get Rich Slowly two weeks ago but I haven’t gotten around to discussing it until now. It’s called The War on Work, and in the article we’re shown a video of a speech given by Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs. The speech is a bit long, and Mike goes off on a few tangents throughout, but I found his perspective on work to be very interesting and just different. Here’s a little summary from the entry at GRS:

Rowe notes that a lot of people say that you ought to “follow your passion”, and that if you do then things will work out. But that’s not always the case. Millions of people chase their dreams but never reach them. Meanwhile, millions more do work they’re not passionate about, but which brings them fulfillment (and sometimes riches) anyhow.

In his speech Rowe says that there are casualties in this War on Work, just like in any other war, and that there needs to be a change for us to be able to secure our future.

For one, the U.S. infrastructure is a shambles. To make matters worse, trade school enrollment is dropping fast, meaning we won’t have enough workers to rebuild that infrastructure. In order for this to change, we have to stop marginalizing work and start talking about the benefits.

This makes sense. Less people are going after jobs that require labor and studying for jobs that have them sitting behind a desk or making the big decisions. I don’t think anything is wrong with that, but there needs to be a balance and it looks like there won’t be one for long. The article goes on to list some benefits from work, all which are very logical, but that’s not what interested me about this speech.

What interested me about all of this is that Mike has a very realistic view on dreams, reality, and choice. Sometimes our passions don’t carry us through. Sometimes our dreams don’t come to fruition. And sometimes we will fail. So what is there to do? Give up? Settle? Try something else? Mike says that’s exactly what people should do, and in a way I agree with him.

Life is not perfect, and things don’t always end up like we want them to. Everyone knows this. There have been many plans I’ve made that never worked out, dreams that I’ve had to put on hold, and expectations that I’ve had to change to move on. Do I think people should go after their dreams? Of course. Should people pursue their passions? Definitely. But if neither of those work out, there should be a Plan B, just in case. Because you never know, that back up plan could be the dream job you never thought you’d be able to do. Maybe it’s destiny. Maybe it’s okay to fail. Maybe that’s the only way it’s going to be alright.

Have you ever had a dream that you couldn’t achieve or a plan that didn’t work out? What did you do?