Our desires and dreams stem from how badly we really want them. How willing are we to pursue them? What are we willing to leave behind? What are we willing to give up? How necessary is it that I do this? Is my identity tied to this thing? Is this who I am? Is this how I view myself and how others view me? Do I see myself doing anything else? If I won the lottery tomorrow, would I still desire to do this? Pursuing our dreams requires deep dedication because it is the hard road. Anything worth doing is going to be hard. Legacy work or projects with duration or long shelf life are difficult by nature. The longer you want something to last, the harder you have to work on it. Some of the bestselling authors you know worked for years on their books, honing them, tweaking them, often completely re-working them for the publisher before they finally went to print. The speech you just saw in front of 10,000 people was practiced dozens and dozens of times before it was ever given live in front of an audience. The online course you just took required months of preparation, curation, and organization before it was ready for release. Anything worthwhile takes time. Even good blog posts take time, a lot of thought, and discipline to execute. These things don’t write themselves.
Many people have a vocation they’re dedicated to in order to pay the bills. They also have an avocation they have that they want to one day pay the bills. The avocation can be anything: music, painting, comedy, writing, speaking, coaching or consulting. Most of us are not one-trick ponies. We have a bag of tricks, only we feel we only get to use one or two during the weekdays at work while the other tricks are left in the bag for our avocation in the evening or weekend. How we want to use these tricks and talents at work if they’d only let us! If we’re lucky or enterprising, we can find a project at work that aligns with our avocation to show off these skills. This is an ideal way to not only show capability, but to start to blend the two talent sets together. That’s what makes work fun — when we get to do the thing we’d be doing on the weekends anyway and get paid for it. What would you be doing anyway just because you love it? Our side avocation keeps those skills sharp while we look for ways to integrate them into our daily work life. And if you can find a way to integrate it into your daily work, you’ll feel fantastic, totally engaged, like you’re winning every day. And who doesn’t want that? Sometimes we can use our avocation skills to back-in to our vocation, simply by putting them on display. Co-workers may not know you possess video skills or writing skills or online marketing skills unless you show them. Find a way to work it in to show value and to contribute.
Find a way to work it in.
If you love to write, find a way to work it in to your daily work. If you love to edit video, find a video project you can contribute to. If you love to do online marketing, find a way to extend what you do into the online marketing space. Just because it isn’t in your original job description doesn’t mean you’re forbidden from doing it. Don’t wait for someone to assign it to you. You’re at work to contribute. A great contribution is going outside of our normal day-to-day or job description into something that transcends it to fill a gap. Everyone’s busy, and everyone uses that excuse to get out of doing more. What if you did more or something alternative to the usual despite being busy that really stood out as a project that matters? Your project sticks out and then you stick out with it. Visibility. This is something everyone wants — to be seen, to create work that matters, to show capability, to showcase what’s possible.
People often complain that the work that they’re given while at work is boring or mundane or otherwise. Well, create your own enterprising projects, even if they are a stretch. IN fact, it is better that they are a stretch. Stretch projects challenge us in the best way possible. They’re just outside of our current capabilities and skill sets. They make us grow into them. They give us a big opportunity to prove our mettle. Think of this project as your 20% time Google offers its employees. Google allows employees to spend 20% of their work time during the week on a project of their choosing. It can be research. It can be developing a new skill. It can be something exploratory. Whatever it is, it is on the employee to pursue out of pure curiosity. Pursue your stretch work project out of pure curiosity. Don’t wait for someone to give it to you. What piques your interest? What engages you? What ignites you? What makes you want to pursue more? What would you be doing anyway — for your own edification?
It is these enterprising projects that often create the pizzazz toward something new, a different angle. Remember that people support what they create. When we’re given an opportunity to enterprise our own projects, what does that do for our belief and support and energy in them? We’re passionate about them. We’re energetic for them. They help drive us. Nobody told us to do them. We’re simply doing them. When we’re given this autonomy and authority, we perform better. We’re catalyzed. We’re free to do our work. We’re free to do our best work. We’ve got the creative freedom and it solidifies our resolve. It is much more engaging and energizing to do our work with autonomy and authority and a belief in oneself to get it done.