Hard Work is Hard

But if you commit to the work, youll reap the rewards

I have never been one to shy away from hard work. Need an extra-large garden plot tilled by hand? I’m your gal. Client demanding a brand new case study in 24 hours? No problem! Ask me to find the value for Y when X is undefined, however, and Z is being held prisoner by parentheses and I run for the hills in search of a garden to till. Tackling the hard stuff is in my DNA…so long as it’s something that I’m good at doing – so long as it’s something that I like doing.

I suspect that most of us operate in this way: We don’t mind putting in the time, the sweat equity so long as we know what to expect from our effort. The courage and stamina we rely on to “get things done” is often tempered with the fear and passivity that keep us from conquering new challenges – and that is keeping too many of us from the hard work that we were born to do.

Consider the reasons you might be staying in a job you absolutely dislike. If that examination sounds too hard for you, then you’re on the right track. I floundered for a decade in mindless office jobs. I took well-paying jobs in everything from product design to insurance to mobile technologies. My skill set easily translated across fields and I had no trouble finding a job. I worked hard at the things that came easy to me and I hated every minute of it.

My mother was fond of saying that “hard work is hard!” and, after her death, I decided to finally do the truly hard work of discovering why, if I was working so hard, I wasn’t happy. Career Masters to invest 8 weeks in myself – and that was, you guessed it, hard. For years, I shied away from self-exploration. I worked hard at my career while relegating my passion, writing, to hobby status. After all, I was successfully surviving, paying my way and saving enough for a nice vacation every year. Developing my skills as a writer and transforming them into a serious career just sounded hard! Wasn’t the fact that I actually wrote – something that’s so hard for a lot of people to do – enough?

No, it wasn’t enough. Doing the easy hard work doesn’t require much risk or muscle. Committing to doing the truly hard work – ending a pattern of dead-end career choices or finally transforming that dream of entrepreneurship into reality – takes time and, sometimes, painful growth. And taking on that challenge is so much more spectacularly rewarding than getting really good at something you hate. Here is what I got from my Career Masters effort:

  • Look back at your past. Assess how your parents, even your grandparents, relationship with work affected your current views. Consider what worked for them and why it may not be working for you. Be confident enough to let go of your past if it no longer serves you.
  • Be brave enough to dream – and be brave enough to shape your dreams into solid, actionable plans rather than leaving them to the memory of your younger, bolder self.
  • Find your tribe – they’re out there. They’re probably sitting, virtually, alongside you taking the Career Masters course themselves, thinking the same things, agonizing over the same fears. Embrace them; they could be your newest, greatest champions.
  • Don’t equate fear with failure. Of course honoring your spirit is Of course it may take time. Of course it will not be easy. All of those things together don’t add up to failure. They simply add up to change.

Back to that algebra problem. I limped out of my high school 101 class with a D: good enough to pass but quite a drag on my GPA. My mother suggested summer school – 8 weeks of lessons while the rest of my classmates were sleeping in. I balked, of course. What 16 year old willingly accepts summer school as her fate? Dropping me off at my first class, my mother reminded me that “hard work is hard.” And necessary if we want to grow not only to reach our potential but move beyond it. I may still avoid algebra problems at all costs but, at least, I know I’m capable of doing the truly difficult work of solving them – and then happily tackle the easy hard task of writing about them.

Lisa Widder

Freelance Writer and Creative Associate at Bright Livelihoods

Learn more about Career Masters Online starting May 6th.

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