We’ve all heard the expressions, “marriage takes work,” and “if you really love what you do for a living, it won’t ever feel like work.”
What utter bullshit.
The implication in both of those is that work is a bad thing to do. Both also imply that if it takes work then something about that relationship or that job is broken and you must fix it.
Again – bullshit.
So let’s start with that first one – when did working become a bad thing? In my mind, work serves a whole lot of positive purposes. It gives me somewhere to be. I can meet other people from whom I can learn and who I can teach. It enables me to make friends. It allows me to contribute positively to society. It allows me to bring home money, which in turn helps to feed and educate my kids, pay rent, and purchase things which helps the economy at large. Work allows me to feel useful and needed (which I like feeling). In short, I can’t find much which is BAD about work. Are there details which sometimes suck? (long hours, crappy bosses, ugly surrounds, boring, etc). Sure. But am I damn grateful to HAVE a job when many are without? You bet I am. Just because you might not totally love what you do or have some challenging circumstances around it, this in no way devalues your work or makes work “bad.”
I don’t think it’s at all unfortunate that most of us have to work. By the way, I think of “work” as stuff you do for money, so this could either be a job or self-employment. I like working. I have not always liked my jobs, but I’ve always liked working. You know what’s interesting? Lots of people who never need to work another day in their lives STILL WORK (Richard Branson. Taylor Swift. Bill Gates. Sheryl Sandberg. Oprah.) because work isn’t that terrible. it serves many purposes. Closer to home, plenty of mothers choose to go back to work after the birth of their kids not because they need to but because they want to.
As for that second bit – that if you don’t love it every single second it must be broken…yeah, and in my backyard I have a sprinkle-eating unicorn that serenades me every morning with “You Are My Sunshine.” Seriously? Every moment of your work should be wonderful? How BORING would that be if it were true and how entirely unrealistic that is to achieve. It’s almost as bad as saying that we all need that work/life balance.
I won’t talk about the ins and outs of marriage or love but I will say that a marriage and a business are not so dissimilar. Both are relationships. Relationships grow, change, shift and alter a lot depending on the people involved and the circumstances surrounding them. Businesses are much the same in that as time passes they too grow, change and shift – and sometimes you “divorce” by choice and sometimes not. To imply that your business or your relationship is somehow broken or not okay because it sometimes requires effort which is neither fun nor joyful – pppfffttttt! When it comes to business, so much of it is fun and exciting…but you know, I’ve yet to find someone who loves the part of their business which is filling out paperwork, firing wayward employees or doing their taxes. I personally don’t hate any of those (because to me they mean better stuff is on the way) but nor would I say I embrace the crappier sides of business with a “WOOOOHOOO! I freaking LOVE THIS!” kind of outlook either. They’re just part of the deal. A boring-but-important part, but part of the deal.
Every day I see people giving up on their businesses because, “it’s just not fun any more,” or declaring, “I’m giving up!” because the damn fondant won’t cooperate or they’ve not had a Saturday off recently. I see people encouraging other people to stop trying to be in business because, “If it’s all so hard, why are you doing it?” Are you for SERIOUS right now? Who the hell told you that every moment you’re in business is going to be glitter and Oreos? Do I think business HAS to be “hard work”? Nope. I think sometimes it’s positively glorious, and other times you’ve got to put in a bit more effort than is either comfortable, nice or affordable. Sometimes it’s going to feel like a hell of a lot of hard work (physically and emotionally) and other times it’s going to be downright brilliant. Just like work/life balance is bullshit, so too is expecting or assuming that business is fun all the time.
Is your business ALWAYS going to feel like work? Probably – because it’s a mix of fun and not-so-fun, just like a normal job is. Is that a problem? Not at all. I think it’s wonderful when you can marry your happy place with your work place and my mission with this blog is to teach people how to do exactly that. If however you think that marriage will all be wine and roses …then dear heart, you’ve been reading too many of those inspirational memes that say stupid things like, “Your calling should never feel like hard work.” Yes and Oreos will never make me fat.
All relationships – if that’s the relationship between you and your partner and you and your business – require effort and love and for some people, effort IS work. It’s because the relationships are worth it that you need to endure the times when it feels like your capacity for effort and love are being tested – and they WILL be tested. No relationship worth having is entirely effortless or without work of some kind.
If you don’t believe me, I’ve got a sprinkle-eating unicorn I can sell you.