“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” – Theodore Isaac Rubin
Is there something that you’ve been putting off doing? Is there something you know you have to do to make your life better, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it? You’re absolutely not alone. Let me tell you a quick story about my journey through my MBA.
Today I finished my last assignment of my MBA. Although my last class doesn’t officially end until two weeks from now, I was able to work ahead and finish my work. As I was finishing my work for my last course I couldn’t help but ask myself why I ever even started my MBA in the first place?
That question became more mild over time. A while back, I took a break from finishing my degree for almost two years. It was hard and painful, not because the work was actually difficult, but because I wasn’t very mature in how I handled myself. My attitude about it sucked. I complained, I procrastinated, and I made both my life and my wife’s life miserable. I used the birth of my now 2 year old daughter as an excuse to quit, pretending like I intended finishing one day. Truthfully I didn’t know if I’d ever finish.
I’m still not particularly proud of having finished my MBA, and while I’m sure I have learned much from the courses that I’ve taken, the value of that knowledge can’t compare with the books I have read or listened to at my own leisure over the past few years. I honestly don’t believe formal education will ever compare with learning that we put ourselves through every single day organically, however unorganized our informal learning may be.
Learning by reading what we’d like to read is a much more effective way to permanently change oneself, and it is perfectly tailored for the life stages that we’re currently in. That being said, what I have learned from finishing my MBA is how to do what I really do not want to do, especially when I’m not sure of its immediate value. Honestly, I think I started to learn to do what I don’t enjoy before going back to finish my MBA, but my MBA is proof that I truly have overcome my childish attitude towards work and difficulties. It’s symbolic of my attitude change, not because obtaining it was hard in itself, but because I saw very little value in it. The fact that it was time consuming and I couldn’t always see the value in the degree is what made it so difficult for me, but I got it done anyway. This is what makes me proud, and perhaps helped me build better character along the way.
It’s easy to live life doing what we all like to do, but I think it’s important to spend at least an hour or two every day doing what we have to do (not including going to work). We need to spend time doing what we don’t want to do, because it makes us better people in a variety of ways.
Why should we spend time doing what we don’t want to?
Here are a few reasons why I never want to stop doing what I don’t want to do (Yes, I know that sentence is a bit contradictory):
- It’s required – Sometimes there’s just no way around doing what you don’t want to do. Nobody wants to pay bills, but not paying them will only make things worse. Not only are there daily tasks that we just have to get done, we also have goals that we’d all like to achieve that often require doing a ton of things that we really don’t like. The faster we start doing the things we really don’t like, the more we can enjoy what we do like.
- It creates enjoyment – I don’t believe we can truly enjoy life without putting ourselves through many things that we do not enjoy. Just as scarcity makes the price of goods go up, scarcity in free time makes the free time we do have even more pleasurable. On top of that, there have been many instances that I have forced myself to do something that I thought I would hate, only to find out that I take some enjoyment in it. Working out is the most obvious example that I can think of. At first, it’s difficult and painful, but over time it starts to become something you will crave. Force yourself to do things you don’t like, and ironically, you just might enjoy life even more.
- It will make you a better person – I’m naturally terrible at relationships. I’m often a selfish and obnoxious person. The ability to force myself to act contrary to my nature is the only thing that has enabled me to become a slightly more tolerable person. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you may know that I read books on how to improve my relationship with my wife, and how to listen better. For years I thought it was slightly feminine to read marriage books and focus on improving my relationship in that way. How foolish was I? I can’t believe how different my life would have been if only I forced myself to listen to others at a younger age. How different my marriage would have been if I would have forced myself to be a better person for my wife, regardless of how I felt about the topic of marriage books. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, and do what you don’t want to do for the sake of those around you.
- It’s a challenge – While this isn’t my style, some people do things they don’ t like simply for the challenge. I can’t imagine climbing Mt. Everest is much fun, however many people continue to attempt to climb mountains simply because it’s difficult. I suppose it’s partially for bragging rights, and partially to prove to yourself you could do it. For me, I prefer challenges that have lasting benefits like finishing a degree, working out regularly, and spending more time working to become a head of my household. Perhaps in a small way doing something just for the challenge helps these things too.
So… tell me… what is YOUR MBA? What’s that one thing that has been on your mind that you really don’t want to do, that you feel obligated to do anyway? I hope for nothing other than for this post to inspire you to put down your phone and start chipping away at that nagging goal of yours. The one thing you just couldn’t bring yourself to do. Get after it! Trust that you’re going to feel so much better after you finally reach your destination!
Thanks, as always, for reading, and remember to be great today!