Yeah there are a lot of times we’ve got to do things we just don’t want to do.
I don’t like doing dishes, I don’t like doing laundry, I don’t like going over finances and doing taxes.
Yet, they have to be done.
I know the ideal is to only do things that we want to do. But life is also not a happiness cloud made of cotton candy.
I’m not sure where the idea of living a life devoid of pain came from.
I know for myself, pursuing happiness in my work came from being exposed to people who absolutely hated their work, but they continued to show up and do it for a paycheck.
That idea of showing up day in and day out in an environment that I loathed, spending a majority of my time and life in those circumstances was not attractive to me at all.
But that doesn’t mean that we get to avoid things that we don’t want to do.
Sometimes we’ve got to put our nose to the grindstone and get the work done.
I can think of two times in particular where I had to grow and make the right choice.
The first was in high school at the age of 14.
I grew up in the 1980’s and saw the birth of Must Watch TV on Thursday nights on NBC. It was one of television’s highest ratest nights with the line up of: “The Cosby Show”, “Family Ties”,”Cheers” and “Night Court”.
For me it was a staple of my week, something I really looked forward to.
By the time I hit freshman year at Loyola High School, I realized I was neck deep in some serious school work along with sports and activities. My schedule was getting crammed and I was coming to a crossroads in my life.
I couldn’t fit primetime television into my nightly schedule. What’s more I couldn’t fit Thursday night primetime television into my schedule, and that was a heavy emotional blow to me. I was hooked.
But one of those shows taught me the lesson of bearing through something I didn’t want to do. On the show “Family Ties”, the middle daughter Mallory (played by Justine Bateman) was not the best student. In one episode, she had to spend an enormous amount of effort and focus to get a passing grade for a crucial exam. It took a lot out of her, and it was very painful, but she did it anyway.
I remembered this episode as I sat with my high school counselor Tom Vavra, as he talked to me about what it was going to take to get into college.
Little did Mr. Vavra know that this 14 year old kid was thinking about a teenage character’s journey on a family tv show and realizing that he was going to have to follow her example.
I had a shift in my thinking because of a fictional character on a tv show. Because of this shift in thinking, I started doing the necessary work to get through my schooling.
Years later, I was in Northern California as a young man. I had moved there right after graduating from college and had been living off of money saved from working on a children’s theatre gig. The money had not been a lot and I burned through it quick. I was feeling incredible pressure and had asked a friend if I could borrow some camping gear and go off for a few days to collect my thoughts.
I picked up the gear and got some money out of my bank account. There was very little left. I knew that rent and bills were coming soon, and that I needed to do something about it.
I brought the camping gear back to my friend, decided to cancel my camping trip and started looking for work at temp agencies.
It was the right thing to do. It wasn’t the fun thing to do. It was the right thing to do.
I’m reminded of this again and again. I’m going through some life lessons currently where plans I’ve made haven’t exactly worked out. I’ve been thrown a curve ball. But eventually, I’ve got to get up and give it another try.
Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living. Sometimes that included a period of doing tasks you don’t want to. In my experience, you’ll eventually get to the good stuff.