This article is going to make the case for you to do what you like doing. It will talk about how we can move from doing what we don’t like to doing what we like. Also, It will convey a fascinating story I heard over the weekend which illustrates why liking what we do is essential for success.
If you’re convinced that life is supposed to be filled with activities you don’t like doing (like I was at some point in the past), then I invite you to read this article. We always have a choice as to what we do with our time.
Do You Like What You Do?
Such a simple question with such a wide possible range of answers. Yet in this seemingly innocuous question lies a key to our success.
Doing what we like to do is essential for success. In the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, the author writes that one of the laws of habits is that we enjoy doing the habit. According to Clear, the more we enjoy doing a habit the more likely we are to repeat it. And the more we repeat a habit the better we can get at it.
This “liking” boosts the likelihood of doing any activity. If we like eating healthy food, having a balanced diet will be easy. If we like exercising we are more likely to be fit. If we like the work we do we are likely to succeed at it.
So I invite you now to take the time now to ask yourself if you like what you do. Expand your questioning, survey every area of your life. Look at how you spend your time and determine whether it’s spent liking what you do or not.
Take at least a minute to do this. It helps to clarify where you can focus your energy.
What If You Don’t Like What You Do?
This is the million dollar question. If you like what you do with your time then awesome for you! You don’t need to read what’s coming.
But if you don’t like what you do, what can you do about it? The short answer: a lot. Even if you don’t like what you do with your time now you have many options available to you.
For starters, if you’re in a place where you don’t like the things you do it’s crucial to realize that you are where you are because of you. You made the choices which led you to where you are.
Because of this you have all the power you need to change where you are.
Starting To Change
When we decide to start changing how we spend our time (I.e. from doing what we don’t like to doing what we like), it’s also important to understand that change doesn’t happen from one day to the next.
Our life circumstances have a certain momentum. It’s Newton’s second law of motion: an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in the motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force.
In our case, that “external force” is us. That mysterious force we call “the will.” We are physical beings and our bodies follow Newton’s Laws.
But we are not solely physical beings. We are spiritual beings at our core. Our spirits don’t follow Newton’s laws of motion. We don’t need an external force to act upon us. We are in the driver’s seat, whether we’re aware of it or not. Some people are more aware of it than others, but everyone can become conscious of their will with enough practice.
That being said, because you have been moving in a certain direction, at a certain speed, for a certain time, you will continue moving in that direction and speed even after you decide to change.
Consider This Example
A person who drinks regularly and decides to give up drinking will find that his/her circumstances will continue to pull him in the direction of drinking. His/her friends will keep inviting him/her out for drinks every weekend. He/she will keep wanting to buy alcohol when in the grocery store. Advertisements for alcohol will keep pulling his/her attention, reminding him/her of what could be had with a quick purchase.
This “pulling” is an example of the momentum accrued by previous choices. The same applies to all of our choices. Unless the person who wants to change is highly conscious of this momentum, he/she will revert to their pre-change state and continue moving along in the same direction.
What Does This Momentum Mean For A Person Who Doesn’t Like What They Do?
It means it will take time before you noticeably change your direction. Deciding to change is the first step. It’s maintaining that change which is the challenge. Showing up day after day after day; that’s where the challenge of sustaining change makes its appearance.
But rest assured that if you stay consistent with your choice it will happen. I don’t want to set a timeline as change happens at different rates for different people. For me it took about a year of diligently choosing to do what I liked, showing up every day, despite my desire to do otherwise (yes, I liked what I was doing, but a part of me was afraid I was wasting my time, that’s what was difficult).
And even now, three years after I decided to change, I am still in the process.
For you it could happen differently.
So how do you change through wielding your inner force rather than waiting for an external force to do so?
You can read these articles I’ve written on the topic:
- Do “The Switch” – Mental Refocus
- How To Live Abundantly – You Choose!
- Your Thoughts Become Things – Choose Wisely
If you want external support, these two articles detail my experience with an excellent tool designed to change us from the inside out:
Now on to a story I heard this last weekend which exemplified the importance of doing what we like.
How Doing What We Like Empowers Us
Over the weekend my partner Petra and I went on a cross-country ski trip in Kananaskis Country, Canada with one of her senior colleagues from work, Josh, and his wife, Mary. Kananaskis is a park chock-full of breathtaking mountain vistas, deep and serene spruce forests and alpine rivers and creeks, most of which are frozen at this time of year.
It was a magnificent experience. Our two Canadian hosts were uncommonly gracious and attentive. They are experienced cross-country skiers, so they pushed us hard. We were exhausted at the end of our three and a half hour ski run. We skied 18 kilometers in that time. Petra and I normally do 12 kilometers in the same time, so you can imagine how much more challenging this was for us.
It was awesome.
After The Skiing We Talked
Once we were done skiing we packed up and went to our hosts’ cabin, which is located in Kananaskis Country. There we relaxed by the wood stove and ate cheese and crackers as we talked about life.
I don’t remember how we arrived at the subject of school. Mary told us about how her youngest son’s experience in learning to read.
She told us that in the first grade her son’s reading ability was ordinary. It was neither advanced nor backward. Her son was an average reader for his age.
Then something happened.
At the start of second grade, Mary was asked by her son’s teacher what he had done with his time over the summer. Mary asked “Why?” And the teacher responded that his reading level went from being ordinary to extraordinary.
What had happened?
The Power Of Doing What We Like
Turns out that over the summer, Mary’s and Josh’s son had discovered the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic and had become smitten by it. “Calvin and Hobbes” is an American comic strip created by Bill Watterson. It tells of the suburban adventures of Calvin, a mischievous six-year old boy with his stuffed tiger-friend, Hobbes.
“Calvin and Hobbes” is one of those rare creative gems which appeals to both children and adults. It deals with the classic “boys-will-be-boys” mischief which strikes a cord with young readers. At the same time, it broaches broad issues like philosophy, public education and interpersonal relationships between adults and children. It’s entertaining for adults to read.
This means that the writing of “Calvin and Hobbes” is not what your typical first grader gets to read at school. It’s way more advanced than that.
So, in order to read “Calvin and Hobbes”, Mary’s and Josh’s son had to put in the effort to read and understand what he read. Which he did without question, because he loved the comic strip. Josh told me about how his son would stay up at night under the blankets with his flashlight on, reading “Calvin and Hobbes.” That’s how much he liked the comic strip.
And because he liked it, he enjoyed putting in the effort in to read it. And since it was more advanced writing than what he was “supposed” to read at school, his reading ability skyrocketed in response. The reading he was supposed to read at school was boring! He would much rather read “Calving and Hobbes.”
And look at what happened when he did.
We All Have That Little Boy’s Power
When we figure out what we like to do and we do it, nothing can stand in our way to success. Such is the nature of the human spirit. We all have the power to achieve tremendous things. It’s up to us to find the things we want to achieve so we can focus our time and energy on them.
There is a quote which is tenuously credited to Albert Einstein, which goes:
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
I believe in what the quote says, whether Einstein said it or not. If you’re a fish, swim! If you’re an eagle, fly! If you’re a horse, gallop! Who cares what others believe you should do? They are not you, and it’s you who’s in charge of your life; not governments, parents, bosses or teachers.
I hope this article inspires you to take action and to fill your life with more of the things you like doing. Even if this just means changing your perspective, rather than your activities. Changing our perspective changes our reality and if you find you’re stuck in a situation you don’t like, by changing your perspective ever so slightly you can start changing your circumstances.
That’s still change.
To our wealth and success.