Written By: Jeffrey Craig
I remember it like it was yesterday. After almost 20 years of school, I had finally reached the summit in educational achievement. I was about to receive my Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. As they were calling names of the new graduates, I couldn’t help but look back on the years I spent getting to this moment. The hours upon hours of homework, the papers that seemed to take forever to write, the study sessions that robbed me of sleep. I was overcome with a sense of pride and achievement. It took everything I had to get to this moment, but I finally made it.
Now, as I sit here writing this article, I struggle to find the motivation I once thought I would have. I found something I am passionate about. I have discovered my purpose in this great big world. Yet, in this moment, I fight to fulfill it. A task that should come easy to me has become increasingly difficult.
It’s a confusing experience to have.
In college, I hated studying. I loathed the idea of writing a paper. Yet, somehow I managed to pass every test. I would compose papers that were nothing short of a masterpiece. How could I do something so well that I wasn’t passionate about, yet when it comes time to do something that I am, I go blank?
I had been convinced that once I found my calling, it would light a fire within me that couldn’t be put out. I was told by the world that the work comes easy when it’s aligned with your purpose. I believed what I was told. In the moment I discovered my purpose, my beliefs were confirmed. But I wasn’t told the whole truth. No one told me the REAL story that comes after the flood of positive emotions.
Living your purpose is NOT always easy.
Finding your purpose will ignite a fire inside of you. It will inspire you to do great things. It will motivate you to reach for the stars. But, it will not always feel that way. Sometimes, the flame will dwindle. Sometimes, you will have to work hard when you don’t want to. Sometimes, you will not feel the passion behind your purpose.
Much like a new relationship, finding your purpose has a puppy love phase. In the beginning, it’s new, exciting, you want to stroll around town and show it off to all your friends. The work comes easy because, hey, when you’re living your purpose, nothing ever goes wrong, right?
Soon, the things you used to love about it begin to annoy you. Your purpose begins to interfere with your social life. It doesn’t give you butterflies as often as it did in the beginning. It starts wearing sweats around the house…. Okay, maybe not the last one.
What I am trying to say is, the excitement wears off at times and you forget why living your purpose is so important.
This doesn’t feel encouraging, I know. If someone told me this years ago, I would question why I would even care to find my purpose. I mean, what’s the point, right?
Well here’s the second part to this great truth. Nothing in this world worth having comes easy. There will be times where you want to give up, times where you forget why you are doing it in the first place. But if you can summon the courage and strength to fight through this resistance, you will experience a reward far greater than anything you could ever imagine.
Picture a marathon runner. They spend months training for one moment, crossing that finish line. Some days, they get out of bed and are excited to train. They are filled with energy and motivation. The training is fun and rewarding as they see themselves progress physically. Other days, they want to hit the snooze button and sleep in. They want to skip training and instead chow down on a juicy cheese burger.
But they don’t. Instead, they lace up their running shoes and get to work. They struggle through every excruciating mile and hate every moment of it.
Then the day comes. The day they have been training for. As the marathon begins, they are filled with the excitement and adrenaline they had on the first day of training. They pass the starting line ready for what awaits them. While some miles are easy, others are tough, but they power through it just as they have always done. All those days they got out of bed when they didn’t want to pay off in this moment as they finally cross that finish line.
So how do they do it?
How does anyone make it through those hard days?
Remember Why You Started
The reason the puppy dog phase wears off is because it becomes comfortable. Your purpose has become a normal part of the daily routine.
The feelings you once received from living on your path are less rewarding because you experience it every day. It begins to fade into your personal homeostasis.
You must remind yourself on the hard days, why you started this journey in the first place. You must find your “WHY” once again and hold it tightly.
You started for a reason. Don’t forget it.
Get It Done, Even If It Sucks
When hard days come, you will not want to work. You will feel uninspired and unmotivated. You will be convinced that whatever work you put into your passion will be fruitless and an epic waste of time.
I am telling you now, DO IT ANYWAYS.
Some of the most successful people in the world had 100 terrible ideas before they had the one idea that transformed their industry.
One of my great heroes, Walt Disney, was fired once from a newspaper for lacking “imagination” and “original ideas.” This may have been true at the time, but due to his tenacity, Walt later went on to create a Mouse that has now instilled magic and wonder into the hearts of millions.
Admire Your Progress
As you struggle to find the motivation to keep going, it is always important to note how far you’ve come.
It doesn’t matter if you started a week ago, a month ago, or years ago. You are not in the same place you started.
This progress, no matter how small or large, is a testament to the value of what you do. It has made you smarter, stronger, and more competent. It has prepared you for the future challenges that await you.
Just as building muscle takes time, so does developing your craft. It is important to pause every now and then to admire just how far you’ve come.
Prove Yourself Right
Who doesn’t love being right? I know I do. Even when I am wrong, I will try to convince myself otherwise.
There is no reward for giving up on your dreams. You will not gain fulfillment from taking the easy route in life. Your future self will not thank you for quitting early. He will resent you. Life will not get any easier.
You believed you could do this in the beginning and you still should. Every moment is an opportunity to prove yourself right. Success tastes so much better than mediocrity, I assure you.
You see, just because we are inspired one day, does not mean that every day will be as easy. Just because we have found our path doesn’t mean the road will always be gentle. But that doesn’t mean we stop. It is all the more reason to add fuel to the fire and keep going.
As I complete writing this, I look back once again on my experience in college and I’m reminded of how I got through it. There were days I would rather sleep instead of study for midterms, days I would rather go out and party instead of write a paper. I didn’t do it because I wanted to. I didn’t do it because it was fun. I worked through the hard days because I had to. I worked through the hard days for the moment I could finally hold that degree in my hand and say “I did it!”