Do the Work

Growing up, I was told, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

To everyone who said that to me, I would like to say two things:

  1. Thank you. That advice helped me pursue and find a job I absolutely love. I truly feel as though I “get to do” what I do, and not at all that I “have to do” what I do. What a gift! I know how rare it is and what a privilege it is to love what I do. Thank you for your sage advice.
  2. Liar, liar, pants on fire!

I grew up and found a job I love. And because I love it, I work 10x harder than I would at a job I didn’t care about. I put in extra hours. I sweat the tough decisions, I agonize over the mistakes, and I often lose sleep thinking about it. There are circles under my eyes and at least a few grey hairs I can’t blame on my children (but, seriously, not many…because boys, amirite?).

Here’s the real deal – just because you love something doesn’t mean it always is, or should be, fun. And just because you love something doesn’t at all mean it’s easy. It simply means you love it enough to want to do the hard work, and you want to stick with it, even when it isn’t fun. You do it because it’s worth it. You do the work because you love it.

Recently, my husband bought an agility ladder to help our boys improve reflexes and foot skills for soccer and for all of the other sporting activities they enjoy. The first time they used it my 8-yr old came inside, dripping with sweat, and dramatically told me it was no fun, he was “depleted,” and “what are we having for dinner that will possibly be able to fill me back up?” Aside from telling him to get a grip and learn to cook his own meals, I laughed and told him it was time for a life lesson. I explained that one of the secrets to life is figuring out what you love enough to want to do the hard work to be good at it. I told him he could end up working hard and it be drudgery for drudgery’s sake, or he could work hard on purpose.

You may disagree, but I feel strongly about this one. If we teach our children and create a culture where we only do the things that are fun and easy, than we will always be tempted to quit on the things that matter most, because inevitably, things that matter will require work, and at some point, they will be hard and leave us feeling depleted. And if we choose to walk away in those moments, if we quit, than we miss the good stuff – we may even miss the very best stuff.

I’m not saying life should be miserable, and I’m definitely not saying we should be trying to make things harder than they already are. But we’re on a fool’s errand to think we can find something we really love and not have to work hard for it. Marriage, parenting, loving our neighbors, contributing to our communities, being obedient to God – all hard, all worth it.

So here’s my advice:

Find something you love and do the work.

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