Work really hard

All the most incredible people I know work hard.  Really hard.  Crazily hard.

My first job out of college was as a management consultant.  The deal in those jobs is that you sign away your life for a few years in exchange for a professional experience that gives you a lot more exposure and learning than you really deserve, given what you know.

That was my experience.  In the first two months on the job I worked 7 days a week, 12-14 hours a day.  It was pretty miserable.  And that was a close approximation of the next four years.  Of course, I also learned a lot.

I also figured that working that hard had to be temporary.  It had to be, I figured, since the distinction between “work” and “my life” was a bright line.  Work wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely work = something I had to do.  Not working = fun.  Over time, the more I worked the less I felt I was living.  For me, that was exhausting.

That’s why I think passion and loving what you do win every time – because you want to be there.  Your mind is always churning with the next idea, not because your boss tells you to but because you’re doing your life’s work.

Of course you’re not going to love every job every day starting today for the rest of your life.  It takes some time to get there, since it’s a combination of self-discovery, trial-and-error, and chance.

If you’re not working at your dream job today, what do you do?

The easier, but ultimately limiting, option is to slog away at the job you don’t love, and steal every last minute you can for “free time.”

The other option is to make finding and living your passion a big part of what you do, starting today.  You don’t do this by quitting your job (assuming that’s not an option) but by taking the time you have when not at “work” to keep on working, not on your day job but at discovering and learning your craft and your passion.

Jump into your dreams today.  Find the 15 most influential/inspirational people doing/writing about the work you hope to do, and read them religiously.  Add in a few people who are going to give you a daily dose of kick-in-the-pants inspiration.  Get involved in conversations that will lead to opportunities for real-life interaction and opportunity. Learn the skills that will serve you in your life’s work – by setting aside the time today, rolling up your sleeves, and doing the work.

Stephen King famously said that step 1 in writing is “Put butt in chair.” That chair isn’t placed in front of a TV or a computer that’s browsing Facebook, it’s not a barstool and when you sit in it you’re not reading a trashy novel.

It’s placed squarely in front of the tools of your trade, the ones you hope, someday, to master.

8 thoughts on “Work really hard

  1. Brilliant and inspirational article Sasha.

    Though I think there’s one very important note to leave here: there’s working hard, and there’s working smart. Sometimes you have no choice but to work hard (14 hour days, 7 days a week) but more often than not you can find ways to work smart (get the necessary work done in just an hour, spend the rest of the time on other things).

    Still, it all starts with doing the work.

  2. This is so true. I think many times people find themselves stuck in their career and don’t believe there’s a way out. It takes a lot of courage and motivation to change that and choose something you love. But you’re right, making that choice doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your current job. The little steps matter too. Hopefully people just entering the job market will keep this in mind though and not take the first offer that comes to then. I think it’s important to hold out for something that really, REALLY, grabs your attention.

  3. Seems like one of the interesting implications of this idea that I really love (thanks) about eliminating “the bright line” or, to put it another way, the buckets (“life” bucket and “work” bucket) and making one big river — aka living — is that it opens up the room for any given experience to inform another, regardless of where it occurs (i.e., “at the office” vs. “private life”). Too often I feel that if I don’t quickly perceive a direct link between my “job” and another dimension of my experience (changing a diaper, sky-diving, reading a novel, walking in Central Park with a friend, or whatever it may be), there ISN’T a connection. But if we don’t see our experiences as being in competition with each other and segregated, doesn’t that change the terms of the game? And maybe the message is more like “live really hard”?

  4. Not really impressive in the world of thought. Mostly the same old puritancal work ethic focusing on ones worth based on ones work achievements. I feel very sorry for you because life is not a time-clock that one can punch-in at the start and punch-out at the end. There is no perfect job, like there is no perfect soul-mate, no perfect parent, no perfect sibling, no perfect lover and no perfect friend. Ask yourself the one question that everyone asks themselves when they go off to work in a job they do not like, for what are you working? I absolutely agree with finding work you enjoy but not everyone has a clear idea of that work. Be something other than work, be something more than work. Find a path that leads to personal fulfillment first and contributes to a better society second.

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