Forget doing what you love, do what you hate

The late Steve Jobs spoke at the 2005 Stanford Commencement Ceremony encouraging graduates to do what they love and not settle for anything else.

I appreciate his advice, however I say, do what you hate. I know—it goes against everything we’ve been told about following your dreams and finding your passion. It is important to find value in what you do but life is not idyllic. If we only did the things we loved, nothing would get done.

Here are my issues with the “do what you love” advice:

  • Most of us don’t know what we love. But I’m not really good at anything? Doubt, confusion, and anxiety abound for those who are unclear about their passion. These feelings are completely normal. For many of us it is difficult determining your love especially if you haven’t tried it. Eric Thomas has said, “How do you know you don’t like to write, if you’ve never written before?” Finding what you love is a process—for some it might be instant, others it might take a lifetime. Just because you haven’t found it doesn’t mean you should stop working towards your goals and doing the best you can. Stop dreaming and start doing.
  • If we don’t love it 100% of the time, then it’s not true love. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when you actually find and do what you love. There will be times and aspects that you’ll despise. Muhammad Ali who was a talented boxer from a young age recognized his strengths as a fighter. He was quoted as saying, “I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” Successful leaders wake up at 4 or 5 am not because they love to do it but because it enables them to complete more tasks in a day. With the good comes the bad. Figure out how to tough it out.
  • Doing what you hate builds character. There is tremendous value in doing things that you hate including learning a new skill and gaining self-awareness. And in this economy, skills are currency. Many of us are quick to judge without fully committing to it or trying it. By working on things you dislike, you’ll strengthen skills, including: perseverance, mental toughness, work ethic, and confidence. Bottom line, it just doesn’t happen—you have to work for it. So try something new to the best of your ability. But don’t just try it once, commit to it for a few weeks to really experience it. You might just end up liking it.

I’m not telling you not to pursue your passion or dreams. However, I don’t want you to feel like you’re not enough or what you’re doing today has no meaning. Appreciate what you’re achieving right now. Many of us focus on the future and what it might hold instead of appreciating the things, experiences and most importantly the people around us.

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