The work—not the outcome—is the reward.
I recently had a talk with my oldest son who is now nineteen. He did one semester of college and decided it wasn’t for him. After going to high school for multi-media engineering, he came out with a professional certification in Adobe Premier Pro – a professional film editing software. He is a hands-on guy who didn’t want to wait two years and pay a lot of money just to begin working in the film industry. I don’t blame him.
But he is starting to lose heart. He’s now working full-time at a bakery, and although he has a few opportunities here and there to do film, they are still few and far between.
Here’s what I said to him. “If I never get paid a dime, I would still write and create. Do you know why?
Because I love the work. Get good at the work. Fall in love with the work, son, not the outcome.”
We all want to get paid for something we love doing, but first, we have to get good.
At the onset of 2020, I was bored with my work. Back in 2009, my family moved from Rochester, NY to Cambridge, MA to start a church from scratch. Sandwiched between MIT and Harvard, Cambridge is one of the most unchurched and complex cities in the country for church planting. I wouldn’t take it back because my wife and I came out of it better people, but it was brutal.
I thought pastoring the church in Cambridge, or at least formal pastoral ministry in a church, would be a life-long assignment.
I wrestled with it for a long time and for a while, I thought I was abandoning my calling. Now I realize that’s not true. I’m just changing assignments.
Here’s the point. When you lose your day-to-day passion for the work you do over the long haul, it might be time to move on. 2020 was when it came to a head, but that passion had been waning for a while before that.
Eventually, if you are good at the work, there should be results, but results are the evidence; they are not where the joy comes from.
Talk to anyone who has accomplished anything significant and they will tell you, “It was great, but when I reached the pinnacle, it didn’t last very long, and I found myself saying, is this it?”
All the more reason to fall in love with our work.
Furthermore, our work can’t be the only thing that brings us fulfillment, but that’s a different discussion for a different day.
Yeah, but I’ve Got Bills to Pay!
Ask yourself, do I really love my work or am I just doing it for a paycheck?
If the answer is, “No, I’m just doing it for a paycheck,” I’m under no illusion that you can just change your situation in an instant. You’ve bills to pay and so do I. That’s where I was in 2020, and I’m there right now. My part-time role (which I really enjoy) is bringing in half of the monthly income I need. I’m trying to make the other half through some entrepreneurial endeavors that I’m also really enjoying, but so far aren’t producing much income. I may have to take on another part-time role but I’ll never stop writing, creating, and sharing my work with the world.
Why? Because I love the work!
If you are dissatisfied with your work (or with some other part of life for that matter), Here are several questions that might help you:
What are some small steps you could take to move toward meaningful work in your life?
Could you start a side hustle? Go back to school and get the education you need to do what you really love?
Talk to your boss about roles or projects that may utilize more of your strengths and abilities?
Update your resume and start looking for new roles?
Do you need to hire a coach to help you clarify and implement your plan?
Try writing down your three next steps and share them with someone within twenty-four hours.