Key Takeaway: When things get difficult or boring, you may think that that dream isn’t for you after all. But hold your horses: if in the middle of it all you feel a sense of peace, then it is. Nothing of worth comes easy.
There seems to be a trend among start-ups and social enterprises in my circle: the passionate young changemaker is so busy blazing their trail that they sometimes fail to pay attention to things that seemingly are a hassle but actually matter so much. Things like systems, documentation, and administration.
The “boring”, everyday part of things.
Some of us simply fail to get these things in order and stick to the supposedly “fun” parts such as R&D and creative communications. Others accept the need for a holistic, parental-like eye over their initiative and thus endure the tediousness and monotony of traditionally “unexciting” things like those I mentioned above. Oh, and careful research (which forms the base of proper marketing).
This doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurship – it can be anywhere. From structuring lesson plans (teachers) to proper crediting of sources (academics and even musicians) to the 10,000-hour-practiced strokes (artists), there comes a point, when you’re doing what you love, that you inevitably stumble across something so potentially demotivating and ho-hum that, one day, you might start questioning, Is this really for me?
There’s a difference between encountering these obstacles along the way of your purpose, and realizing that something may not be for you. For example, you may hate paperwork and feel it’s a waste of your time. But compare the following scenarios:
a) You do paperwork to complete important documentation for your struggling but doing-okay-so-far business, which you put up in the first place because you really believed you’re meant to be there. Or…
b) You do paperwork as part of your work in a wonderful job you’re excelling in, yet still makes you feel empty and unfulfilled at the end of the day.
In his bestselling book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, Fr. James J. Martin, S.J. explains that these kinds of unpleasant situations are unavoidable, especially in a world like today’s. But the one key differentiator to the differences I mentioned above is peace. If, despite the difficulty, you feel at peace, then you know you’re headed in the right path as far as your God is concerned.
I personally believe that precisely because you’re trying to live out a life of purpose, these “temptations to slack” will be more common and intense. There will be more challenges your way because you’re already on the right track – more chances to stumble and never get up. They say that Satan’s temptations are at their greatest the stronger one’s faith is, and it’s no different for purposeful living and the tediousness of everyday affairs.
(Read more: TDY President Lali on the value of devotion and commitment)
There’s also a world of difference between optimism in sticking to and pursuing your dreams, and blind confidence that things will go easy precisely because you’re sticking to and pursuing your dreams. The former is laudable and, I’d say, the path that true changemakers are on. The latter is simply foolishness – and don’t use the “crazy enough to change the world” card here, it’s just foolishness.
Things, especially those of worth, are never going to be easy. If they were, then everybody would be doing it already. There’s a reason for all the philosophies of “the road less traveled”, “the narrow gate”, and so on: It’s going to be a bumpy ride – but a ride so worth it.
(Read more: When you’re feeling helpless, just…)
This is why self-awareness is important: It helps us pinpoint where our inner peace, where our deepest sanctuary with God is located. It helps us know whether or not a certain avenue is the avenue for us or not, considering the hardships that will come. In knowing ourselves, we discover and define what it really is we’re meant to be.
Remember, it won’t be easy. And you might feel like giving up. But if amidst it all, there is peace, then persist until you succeed: You’re one step closer than everybody else.
Have a purposeful weekend!