Passion and Push-ups

Passion and Push-ups

Ever done a push-up? Likely, you have. At least one, right? Probably more. It’s something expected in phys ed. It’s simple. Straightforward. A way to build strength without any fancy equipment.

Despite our fascination with Planet Fitness, SoulCycle, or Peloton, we still rely on the good old-fashioned push-up to help build upper-body strength.

We’ve been doing the American pushup for about 100 years. Yeah, it’s that old. And, it’s still around because it works. 

Throughout human history, old has been competing with new. We’re easily fascinated with the new. But, new doesn’t always mean better. Nor does old always mean bad. Somehow, though, we frequently end up siding with new, simply because, well, it’s new.

Like this notion that we must be passionate about our work. That we must wake up excited to start our day because of the work we get to do.

It’s a relatively new idea. I wasn’t encouraged to discover my passion before I headed off to college. Those in my graduating class were told to pursue success. Climb the corporate ladder. Pay our dues and work our way up. Slow and steady wins the race.

But, now? Now we’re bombarded with messages about having a passion for our work. You know the saying: “do a job you love and you won’t work a day in your life.” In today’s world, working for some reason other than passion, well, that’s just so outdated.

This new notion of passion is changing the way we think and talk about work. People are out there searching for passion. Getting upset with themselves if they’ve yet to find it. As if work will actually be magical if it’s aligned with our passions.

The truth? Much of work isn’t magical. Some of it is hardly tolerable. Some days are hard to get out of bed. There is absolutely nothing exciting about work. It’s not a failure to find passion. It’s just the way of work.

For some people, yes, work is very much wrapped up in their identity. In some of the very best ways. Think artists, musicians, chefs. It’s hard for them to separate their work from themselves. There really is true passion and purpose to what they do. On most days.

But, for others, work will only ever be work. A way to pay the bills.

And, for some of these people, work is also a means to pursue hobbies. Hobbies for which there is deep passion. Hobbies that push people out of bed. Whether it’s rock climbing, or white-water rafting, or hunting, people are living a life with a passion for something other than work. And, as much as that seems old-fashioned, well the idea is still around because it works.

It works at keeping people physically and mentally healthy, kind of like a push-up. It’s an old-school way of living. Completely contrary to today’s worship of all things work.

It’s good to remind ourselves of this old-fashioned idea. That it’s okay for work to be nothing more than work. The more we get pressured to believe in passion for our work, we should remind ourselves that work didn’t use to consume all of our thoughts and time.

Work used to have clearer demarcations. But now, work creeps into every waking moment. Leaving a trail of shame. We tell ourselves that if only we had passion for our work, we wouldn’t mind getting an email from our boss. While we’re at home.

We’re so consumed with work, we’re too exhausted to even pursue hobbies. Giving us an even greater sense of shame. We scold ourselves. We’re convinced that if we had true passion for our work, we’d easily find our own work-life balance. 

But, life doesn’t have to be this way. We can allow ourselves to be grateful for the tranquility that comes from doing a job for just 40 hours a week. A job that can’t interrupt us when we’re at home. A job that we can leave behind. Truly enjoying the time we have off. Whether we spend that time with friends, family, or in the pursuit of some passion.

So, here’s what you need to know — it’s completely okay to be indifferent toward our jobs. We can absolutely get the job done well without any larger purpose or passion for the work. There’s nothing wrong with just putting in the hours and going home.

Ultimately, passion is important to a full life. For some of us, that passion will be found within our work. For others, there will be no passion at work. Passion will be found in something completely unrelated to work. Making work simply a way to pay the bills. Kind of like push-ups.

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