Do What You Love and You Will Never Work a Day: The Role of Anxiety

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“If you do the work you love, you will never work a day in your life.” What a harmful statement. The implications of the above are if you do not love every aspect of what you do then you are not doing your dream job. This is very untrue. Doing what we love, doing what matters is difficult. Anxiety...

If You Do the Work You Love, You Will Never Work a Day in Your Life…

What a harmful statement. The implications of the above are if you do not love every aspect of what you do then you are not doing the work that is right for you. This is very untrue. Doing what we love, doing what matters is difficult.

One of my favorite quotes from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is “you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy…”  This quote captures something that I believe as a culture we often miss.

Doing the right thing, whether it be for work, health or relationships is always the harder choice. Doing what matters brings about anxiety, worry, feelings of self-doubt, and fear of failure. Doing what matters asks us to exercise self-discipline and be motivated to put in time and energy into a project.

“We learn from trying and failing and trying again. Be willing to fail. Be willing to grow and to learn from your mistakes.”

None of that sounds or is, fun so what we end up doing instead is procrastinating and never getting around to doing what really matters to us.

For example, it is more fun to sit and watch the new season of Game of Thrones than to spend two hours working on your resume and making contacts with potential employers. Working on finding your dream job is difficult and will bring about feelings of anxiety.

We are taught that anxiety, any anxiety, is a bad thing and must be avoided at all costs. The avoidance of anxiety is what will prevent one from moving their life in a valued direction.

Here is the thing, not all anxiety is bad. Anxiety can be used as a method to motivate you, it gives you energy, and helps you work through difficult tasks. If you were not anxious, at least a least a little, about a test, or a job interview you will not take as much time to prepare and are more likely to perform poorly.

Anxiety helps us succeed, at least in small doses.  Too much anxiety can be paralyzing and get in the way of doing what matters.  A bit of anxiety, a bit of fear, reminds us that we are doing something important and to be prepared.

If you are unwilling to experience at least a little fear and anxiety it will be very difficult for you to move toward what matters in your life. Comparatively, if you are experiencing so much anxiety that you cannot perform this too is a problem. Learning how to use your anxiety is a valuable tool in moving in a valued direction in your life.

“Doing what matters asks us to exercise self-discipline and be motivated to put in time and energy into a project.”

So how do you make internal space for anxiety to move towards your dream job?

The first step is to understand that anxiety is not your enemy. It is working to help you be prepared. Feeling nervous or anxious about something does not mean that you should not do it. If you wait to start until you feel confident you can succeed you will never get started.

We learn from trying and failing and trying again. Be willing to fail. Be willing to grow and to learn from your mistakes. Yes, failing is painful, but the alternative of doing nothing is painful as well. Ask yourself this what is worse trying and failing or never trying?

We also need to understand that it takes time to grow and move into our dream job. If your dream feels unobtainable find the first step you can take. Even if you are never able to fully actualize your dream, a life spent moving in a valued direction likely will feel much more rewarding than a life spent in procrastination.

The first step in this process is to identify what are the things that matter to us. In my follow up article we will discuss how to start identifying what matters to you.

Click here to read more articles by Dr. Megan Connell!

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