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Hard Work Might Get You Nowhere Special (but do it Anyway)



I was waking up at 4:30 a.m. to write a book. The process was horrible and wonderful at the same time.


It was during the pandemic, and I felt this extra nudge toward wanting to tap into goals I’d been putting off. When you live through a world crisis, it brings clarity about how fleeting life can be.


I had been saying I wanted to write a book for years, but I lined up the typical excuses related to being too busy. My email password has been “Bookdone” for each passing year that the book was, in fact, not done until I realized having a motivational password doesn’t write the book.


Writing the damn book gets the book written.


So I began the work and the motivational pep talks went out the window. Action has more fuel than fluffy words.


There was no guarantee this book would be awesome and life-changing. In fact, the biggest reason I had in my gut for writing it was I wanted to. I had words and ideas swirling in me that were screaming to get released that I hoped might land with others. That was all.


So why the heck would I wake up at 4:30 in the morning to do something that has no guarantees to bring me financial freedom or a “better” job? I guess the better question is: Why not?


Why not dig in deep and follow the vision in your brain and soul to do something, even though you have no idea where it might lead? Why not push yourself to do more just for the sake of doing it and not merely skimming the surface in life?

 

I had a friend who was a pastor. This guy had a natural gift for reaching people and meeting them where they are in life rather than merely preaching from an unrealistic pulpit. When he spoke, it was clear this was what he should be doing.


When I knew him, he was in a season in his life where he wasn’t doing it. He was working on his dissertation for his ministry doctoral degree while he was a bug exterminator to make money. A pastor mentor of his told him to go ahead and finish his schooling but to know there are no guarantees, even after years of hard work and being extremely talented. He was told he might never get a job preaching again because jobs like that simply are not often available.


This gray road ahead didn’t stop him from being a happy husband, dad, and student who felt the immense tug of his goals with no guarantees. His passion was the light he focused on, and the rest of his life was illuminated by that passion, even when he was a bug exterminator because he knew there was more to his story and his happiness was not hinging solely on getting money for his passion.


Last I heard, he has not reached the career goal he has, but he is still working towards it while not letting the work exhaust him but rather fuel him and fill him with joy and an unshakable light.


 

It can be so hard to hold onto our goals and feel like we’re “called” to do more when we have bills to pay and spouses to answer to, but I do believe if we keep chipping away at the thing we know we have to do, the rewards will come. But if all our work is done merely to reach the goal alone, we might be disappointed when the work brings other rewards we weren’t focused on.


So I started waking up at 4:30 a.m. to set my focus on writing because talking about it was not getting it done. My hard work, persistence, frustration, and consistent act of showing up got it done. It. Is. Done.


When it was done two years ago now, the skies did not open up and shower me with money and praise, but each day that I put in the work, the payoff was already happening. I was becoming who I wanted to be.


Each morning I spent tapping into doing what has been speaking to me for all of adulthood created a deeper life. Before the alarms went off for others in my family and they needed a piece of me, I started my day by giving a piece of me to my goals without guarantees.

It made no sense. It had no linear path to success. It didn’t knock down a million doors of opportunities or create a fairy-tale ending.


My hard work proved to me that I am capable. It showed me I can move forward when I have no idea why I’m doing something. It reminded me I can give myself as much attention as I give to others.


All those things are priceless. My book has not made me a millionaire, nor did I expect that. The writing of it has, however, made me richer. The ripple effect of that confidence led me to a more fulfilling job, stronger relationships, and better long-term habits.


I still wake up early to write and devote time to my goals. This morning I stepped outside and saw a sky full of stars, took a deep breath, and knew this waking up early thing is hard but worth the work. I have no idea why, but I’m curious enough to find out, even when there are no guarantees.


 

What about you? What hard work are you putting in behind the scenes to reach the vision you feel called to create? I became a life coach to help clients dig deeper to see if their life is aligned with what brings them most alive. This doesn't mean we all have to be rich and successful--it means we have to live life to the fullest because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

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