On some level, we all struggle to commit to the work necessary to find our purpose.
We are used to trying something out for six months to maybe a few years, then moving on.
But a vocation is not like that. It’s not something you try; it’s someone you become.
When we do this, when we don’t give ourselves fully to the work we were born to do, we do the world — and ourselves — a disservice.
Commitment is necessary. It teaches us to exchange instant gratification for long-term reward and shows us that some change takes time.
In learning this discipline of staying the course, our character grows. This is the payoff of patience, the joy of watching something grow that wouldn’t have been had you not spent all those years sticking with it.
But it’s not just about commitment; it’s also about perseverance. You can’t find your passion if you don’t push through pain. That’s what I learned from Jody Noland and what Viktor Frankl’s research revealed: discovery comes with dedication.
We must seek to understand our suffering with a redemptive worldview, choosing to see the greater good in spite of the evil in this world. Otherwise, the challenges we encounter will threaten to consume us, leaving us to lives of cynicism and regret. We can’t get caught up in the magic of what might have been — we must move forward, pressing on when the hard times come.
There will, of course, be failure, but with that come lessons to be learned. At times, you may commit to the wrong thing, which is fine, because it’s better than the alternative — nothing. Committing to the wrong thing is better than standing still.
Another strategy, and a popular one, is to not commit to anything. To hold out for better options, wait until the last minute, move restlessly from one thing to the next, and never commit to anything that could trap you. It feels like freedom but is, in fact, just another cage.
When you are surrounded with unlimited opportunities, inaction seems like the safe choice. Paralysed by fear, many choose just that — to not move, to settle. Whether it’s a job as a barista or a promising position on the corporate ladder, we take it. Because the alternative — a costly journey of discovery — is too scary to consider.
Here’s the truth.
The risk of not committing is greater than the cost of making the wrong choice. Because when you fail, you learn. But what happens when you don’t commit, when you choose to not act? Well, nothing.
When you pause without intent, when you stall due to fear, you don’t learn a thing.
Each wrong choice grows your character and strengthens your resilience, readying you for what comes next. Failure is a friend dressed up like an enemy.
Let’s be honest, though. Despite the promises of self-help literature, failing is tough. It can hurt.
Picking yourself up off the ground, one rejection after another, gets difficult after a while.
But if we learn to endure, choosing to see the hidden balm in the wounds of failure, we can grow from our mistakes.
We can overcome our obstacles and turn tragedy into triumph.
We may even be able to celebrate those setbacks and trials, the things that once seemed so daunting, knowing they are all signs that we are on our way.
Excerpt from The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Jeff Goins is the author of four books including his most recent, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do. He lives in Nashville with his son, wife, and border collie.
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