Popular society uses the phrase "work hard" a lot.
"If you want to make something of yourself, you have to work hard."
"Truly successful people work harder than everybody else."
I agree that hard work leads to great results, but I think there's one little important detail that's being left out of all these "work hard" rants.
The truth is, I'm an interesting cross between a hard worker and a lackadaisical couch potato. I've always been resistant when it comes to doing things I don't want to do. In school, I'd half-ass my way through my math homework because I didn't like math. I failed my physical science chapter tests because going swimming in Antarctica with nothing but a bikini on sounded more fun than reading physical science chapters. I procrastinated. I Googled answers. I read SparkNotes. I felt like throwing my belongings across the room when I saw the word "explain" on my test papers because simply giving the right answer wasn't good enough.
Don't get me wrong. I actually made pretty decent grades in school. Mostly A's and B's with a C every now and then in subjects I hated. (And okay, I passed Algebra with a D in 9th grade.) I always studied and got my work done (for the most part) because getting good grades mattered to me.
Which brings me to the central point of this post....
I've noticed that I only work hard on the things that truly matter to me.
When it comes to doing things I'm passionate about and working towards goals I want to achieve more than anything, I basically turn into a crazed work-a-holic who deprives herself of food, sleep and bathroom breaks until she gets a satisfying amount of work done within a certain time period. When I'm working on something I'm passionate about, it would take a pretty massive emergency to pull me away.
This has always sort of set me apart from others. I always wanted to be creative and do whatever the hell I pleased, and my family and peers could not fathom why I so adamantly neglected things like going to college and getting a real job. It's because I never wanted to go to college. I never wanted a real job. I acted like I did because I thought I was supposed to and would tell people, "Oh, I plan on going to college and getting a job very soon!" But deep down, I knew that probably wasn't going to happen. I didn't care enough about those things to put in the effort required to achieve them.
So while all my friends were accomplishing these grown-up activities at lightning speed, I sat at home wishing I could work on my seemingly insignificant passions and still feel as important and accomplished as them. I felt lazy, irresponsible and unworthy in comparison and thought there was something terribly wrong with me for being so resistant to all that "hard work." I felt like such an asshole when my friends would text me about how busy and bogged down there were with things like work, school, and other young adult responsibilities.
I grew up slowly, gradually, and at my own pace. But the fact that I only work hard on things I care about hasn't changed. I have my dream job. I'm working on my first eBook, and I couldn't be more excited about it or proud of it. I love how I'm constantly dreaming up new ideas and possibilities for my work life. Uncertainty feels more exciting than scary these days.
Case in point, I think I'm doing pretty well despite my extreme lethargic nature. I'm not rolling in cash or showering in notoriety, and I still have a lot of learning and growing up left to do. But I'm happy. I'm happy because I only do what I love every day. I work hard on that because it's the only thing that makes sense to me.
So yeah, work hard...but only on what you're passionate about. A lot of people say things like, "Sometimes you just have to suck it up and work hard even if you don't like what you're doing." While I agree that sometimes we have to go through the messy stuff to get to the good stuff, I don't think anyone should feel obligated to settle for or simply tolerate something that they don't truly care about. I know I don't.
What are YOU passionate about, and how have you nurtured that passion today?