Friday, May 31, 2013

Doing the Hard Stuff

Lately, I've been reading a lot about doing what you love and making your business reflect your true self. These are great messages, and worth paying attention to.

But sometimes we need a reality check. Doing what you love doesn't always pay the bills. Selecting only for jobs you think are an expression of your true self may leave you foundering.

Sometimes, you have to do something you don't love.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that doing what feels good, having a great time every moment you are working, and enjoying every second of your job will lead to success. And, to be sure, loving your work will breed success. It's impossible to take your business to great places if you hate everything about it.

But work is work, and some days everything will suck.

Some days you'll be tired. You'll wish you were doing something else. You'll want to put down your work and do something different.

And following those desires just might cause you to fail.

Your livelihood depends on someone paying you for your goods or services. Your customers don't pay you for your happiness, and many of them probably don't care about how you feel. They want their product, and they want it when you said you'd deliver it.

Failure to deliver will drive your customers away.

And that's just what happens when you do something besides the work you thought you were going to love when you took the job.

Ideally, you would only take jobs you truly care about. But, especially if your business is new or struggling, you may find that the only way to keep yourself afloat is to take a job simply because it's available and you're qualified.

This is where I now find myself. I am trying to focus on exactly what I want to do, sure. But the market is competitive and there are more editors than there are contracts, so passing up work that doesn't perfectly suit my personality simply isn't an option.

I'm not saying you should take whatever work comes your way just because someone will pay you to do it. But consider whether you can survive on only the ideal jobs. How many of those exist, and how much can you earn by accepting nothing else?

It's vital, then, to figure out where your lines are. What are your ideal customers like? What are your acceptable customers like? What is completely unacceptable?