“Sometimes you have to do what you don’t like to get to where you want to be.”
Do what you love.
It’s not necessarily bad advice but it’s so overused that most of us run around waiting for something we love to show up in our lap and we’re disappointed when it doesn’t happen. Or maybe we find ourselves doing something we love but we get to a point where it’s not sunshine, unicorns and butterflies, not all the time anyway, and so we question if we’ve really found what we love or if there’s something “better.” I mean isn’t life a walk in the park once you’ve found that thing? Once you’re doing what you love, don’t you always love what you do?
The inherent problem with achieving the motto, “Do what you love,” is that it makes it sound like all you have to do is find that thing, that thing you love, and when you do that thing, magic happens. The sky opens up and happiness pours down while unicorns prance from rainbow to rainbow. Am I right? I mean how many of us have found the career, the relationship or the dream we love only to find that the thing we love has its shit too?
Even the “stuff” we think we’ll love will suck sometimes. Sometimes it will be tough, if not freaking hard, and you won’t want to do the work or find the time – or you’ll find every excuse in the book why you don’t “have” the time. Sometimes you’ll start to hate what you thought you loved and you’ll think something is wrong – if this is THE dream, if I’m doing what I love, it’s supposed to be easy right?
The truth is sometimes you have to do the things you don’t want to do in order to get to where it is you want to go. Sometimes it’s not enough to simply do the things you love. Sometimes the things you love will present you with challenges of their own. And sometimes, you just have to do the things you hate:
- Even if you’re an ultra-marathoner, there will be days you don’t want to run or where running is boring.
- The most successful writers get writers block and have days where they don’t want to write.
- No matter how invested you are in your health and fitness, there will be days (or what feels like weeks) where you’ll want to eat ice cream and pizza and skip the gym.
- Despite having a job you love, you might be required to do things you don’t particularly love like travel, work late shifts or take work home.
There’s one major difference between those of us who are really loving what we do and those of us who still find ourselves searching and that’s the ability to get ourselves to do the things we hate. The people who are loving what they do, aren’t the ones who are necessarily doing what they love – they’re the people who are doing what they hate, they’re the ones who understand that “work” is part of the process and that it’s the process that will bring them the fulfillment of being able to do what they love.
Here’s a not-so-secret-secret: I don’t particularly like running. In fact, the thought of running miles makes me want to gorge my eyes out. There I said it.
But, something happens when I run – something that doesn’t happen when I’m taking a dance class, a kick-ass bootcamp, intenSati or any other class I love to take.
When I run, it’s more than the physical challenge of running or the mental challenge of wanting to run. When I run it’s something I have to literally fight through one step at a time – sometimes uphill, sometimes downhill. Sometimes the wind is against me no matter what direction I turn and I want to stop, but I don’t. Sometimes I get lost running in NJ because I’m still a city girl at heart and this whole jug handle, cul-de-sac shit is for the birds. And then I’ll curse and walk and tell myself I’m just never getting home because I’m so over running, until I convince myself to start up again.
When I run, I learn something about myself. I find something about myself that I didn’t know before, something that allows me to dig deep and keep going. And with each step, I’m able to see my (perceived) limits and choose to go past them.
I learn something each time I do something I hate. Whether it’s running, having a difficult conversation or doing the things that come along with adulting like paying bills, each time I do the things I’d rather not do, I strengthen my willpower, my resolve and my heart a little more. And that’s really the point because no matter how great things are, no matter how much we’ve settled on doing the things we love, there’s always going to be the fine print and things we don’t love so much. Doing what you hate, actually calling up the ability to get yourself to do the things you don’t want to do, is what gets you through the tough times in your life with ease. Doing what you hate reminds you of life’s balance and to be invested in the process. Doing what you hate gives you a fiery resolve and drive to be better.
The only way to truly do what we love is to do what we hate because loving what we do requires us to love every step of the way, not just the parts that are pretty and easy to love.