Hard Work

Hard work is invariably a part of life. You can either embrace hard work or avoid hard work. The choice is up to you. The majority of people, from what I have seen, will avoid hard work like the plague, and perhaps they have a good reason for it. Perhaps the main reason people do not embrace hard work is because it does not serve a purpose for them, or maybe those people don’t really have an overall purpose in their life. And that makes any task, be it easy or hard, completely meaningless.

If I have to work hard at something, I would rather put my effort into something that is going towards my purpose, rather than going out into my backyard and digging trenches everywhere. That sort of work would be excruciatingly hard and serve no real purpose. But if I were to take two hours and crank out a wonderfully masterful article, then I would have to say that, in this case, the hard work paid off. I believe this is one of the conundrums that people fall into. Without having a purpose for your tasks, there really is no reason to do them. It makes no sense to do something for no reason, really, except to pass the time. This is especially true if these activities are considered “hard work.”

Perhaps the hardest thing I have ever done was take the time to figure out what my purpose is. But once I found out what it was, I no longer thought of my hard work as painful, but rather as something I enjoyed doing, as it both challenged me and gave me strength and joy. When hard work becomes joy and strength, that is when you know you have found your purpose. It wouldn’t make much sense for me to spend six months knitting a quilt if I hated doing so, unless the quilt served a purpose, like keeping me warm in the winter. Just like writing jokes won’t do me any good if I never tell them to anyone or use them to further my development in the comedy world. So, now that I know my purpose, it is definitely important to allocate all “hard work” in this area, so that when I am doing this “hard work,” I identify it with joy and embrace it, rather than have some sort of disdain for it, like I would doing my taxes or filling out the dreaded FAFSA.

But I find that there are still things you have to do that are hard, but if you look at it as “I want to,” rather than “I have to,” it becomes less of a chore and more of a task that can easily be completed. For example, you could give yourself a reward after you have accomplished a certain amount of whatever unpleasant task you are doing. One example of this was when I had to read for a class in college and I did not feel like reading, I would put M&Ms lined up in front of me and after every page, I would eat one. Eventually, I either ran out of M&Ms or fell asleep, but it was a semi-powerful motivator. Maybe you could starve yourself until you finish, as hunger is usually a powerful motivator. I don’t mean starve yourself like anorexics do, more like you don’t eat that next meal until you finish your tax return. At least when you finish the tax return, you can look forward to some sort of meal. It’s a goal to shoot for, and a very practical one at that.

Ideally, you want to make the majority of your hard work pleasurable and the rest you can give extrinsic rewards for the completion of the task. So maybe hard work isn’t so bad after all. Especially if it challenges you. I read part of a book that had to do with an Education class I took in college, that dealt with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and how to motivate students to learn or do an unpleasurable task, like writing a report or whatever comes to mind. Let’s say I wanted to write an article, but I didn’t really want to write it, but I knew that if I didn’t write it, Kevin Spacey would die. I would have to plow through it, and my extrinsic motivation would be to write this article so Kevin Spacey can live out the rest of his years as a multi-millionaire, acting in many films and all that good stuff.

Intrinsic motivation is motivation from within. It requires no external motivation, meaning it is something you enjoy, like your purpose, and there will always be hard work involved if you want to live your purpose, but if you intrinsically enjoy it, you will see the hard work as a challenge that will prove your worth and you will rise to that challenge because it is something that is fun, rather than hard, but it is also difficult. I hope I am making sense here. I know I tend to get abstract from time to time, but it is a part of who I am.

Boy, it sure took a lot of hard work to write this article, but I enjoyed every minute of it because it was fun to me. It made sense to write about something like this because I sometimes think something will be too hard for me, but then I think of how enjoyable it could be, or what kind of reward I could attach to it, and then I realize that its difficulty is only in my own mind and that a paradigm shift can change any task from difficult to fun and purposeful. I appreciate your reading this and come back soon for some more of my “hard work.”

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4 thoughts on “Hard Work

  1. Pingback: Hard Work « Comedy and Humor Blog

  2. Excellent article. I agree that once you get past the label of “Hard”, it is so rewarding that it becomes an enjoyable challenge. It’s easier to sit and watch TV and complain that I’m not getting anywhere. However, if I dive into the so-called Hard Work, life becomes more interesting and exciting. Turns out, it’s no harder than avoiding hard work, and a lot more fun.

  3. A few more thoughts: I mentioned TV, and I think this could be a reason people are afraid of hard work: TV makes us passive, and then tries to sell us the gadgets to make things “Easy”. “Hard” is the enemy. We have become spoiled, in this era of labor-saving applinces and push-button convenience. My favorite example of an ad: (selling pre-cooked slices of crisp bacon) “Don’t you just love it when everything is done for you?!”

  4. A while back, you wrote in your blog how working in a grocery store made you feel you were getting nowhere. You said you weren’t motivated or driven and expressed an interest in finding new sources of inspiration. This in mind, I read a story about a martial arts expert that may interest you. It’s from a section called “Taking Charge” in Stephen Covey’s recent compilation for Reader’s Digest entitled, “Everyday Greatness.”

    Create Your Own Breaks–Chuck Norris

    I was sixteen and found a job packing groceries at a Boys Market in Gardena, a Los Angeles suburb. It was the 1950s, and in those days grocery stores used boxes for their heavier items.

    I thought everything was fine, until the end of the first day, when the manager told me not to return. I wasn’t packing fast enough.

    I was a painfully shy kid, and I surprised even myself when I blurted out, “Let me come back tomorrow and try one more time. I know I’ll do better!” Speaking up went against my nature, but it worked. I got a second chance, moved a lot faster, and for the next year and a half boxed groceries from four to ten on weekdays for $1.25 an hour and sometimes all day Saturday and Sunday.

    The moment I spoke up is burned in my memory, and so is the lesson: If you want to accomplish anything in life, you can’t just sit back and hope it will happen. You’ve got to make it happen.

    I was not a natural athlete when I began studying karate, but I trained harder than anyone else and was a world middleweight karate champion for six years. Later, when I decided to become an actor, I was thirty-six and had no experience. There were maybe sixteen thousand unemployed actors in Hollywood, and I’d be competing against guys who had already been in movies or on T.V. If I had said, “I don’t stand a chance,” one thing is clear. I wouldn’t have.

    People whine, “I haven’t succeeded because I haven’t had the breaks.” You create your own breaks.
    This story reminds me that as we work hard, we take responsibility for the direction our life is headed. We also benefit from learning to speak up to others based on our true feelings and learning to listen to ourselves.

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