Originally Published March 11th, 2019
This is my 90th blog post. I have a goal of posting every day until I reach 100. From there I plan on posting Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Fridays. By posting less I’ll be able to spend more time doing in-depth research & hopefully creating more valuable content. This has been a fun experiment and I’ve learned a lot from these “photography thought” posts.
Ok now we can get to the subject of the day.
“Your Work Ethic Must Match Your Ambitions”
Let’s take a minute to break this down and see what we can take away from it.
First—define your ambitions. What goals do you have in life? Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 20 years? I’ll use photography as an example—maybe you’re happy where you are at work and you’d just like to pick up a new hobby? Maybe you want to do photography on the side and earn a little extra spending money? Maybe your dream is to become a Magnum Photographer?
Ok, once we’ve defined our ambitions—our goals—we must develop a work ethic that matches those goals.
Speaking from personal experience—this is where things get hard. Sure, it’s easy to dream about what we want to become—but becoming is easier said than done.
Maybe your goal is to become the next Mr. Universe? If your work ethic consists of watching reruns of The Office on Netflix—you’re probably not going to reach that goal.
Yes, this is an extreme example but you get the point. We have to work for our goals. This is something that I’ve struggled with for many years. I’ve made excuse after excuse not to sit down and do the work. I complain about not being where I want to be, yet when it comes to doing the work—I’d rather veg out to The Office.
Life demands a lot from us all the time—every day. We can’t make working our sole purpose.
There’s also a hidden truth in all of this—maybe our ambitions aren’t as great as we’re willing to work for.
Maybe we think we want to do something, but when it comes to doing the work, it’s just not worth it.
THAT’S OK TOO
I think it’s a powerful insight and something we should all think about from time to time.
Reevaluate your goals once you’ve taken some time to actually experiment with doing the work.
Still want to chase your goal? Then get ready to do the work.
I love using cliches because they make me laugh:
To Be Extraordinary We Must Do Extra-Ordinary Things.
I’m not going to be a Magnum Photographer by taking photos of yard couches. I have to actually do great work. That’s the lesson I’m learning. That’s the hard truth I have to tell myself. If I want to be a great photographer—I have to do great work—I have to work my butt off.
There, I said it.
So how do we develop the work ethic to match our goals?
My advice—start doing something small today and keep the snowball rolling. Momentum is key—small wins for the short game, but don’t forget about the big picture. It takes time, just like everything. If your work ethic does not match your ambitions—start working harder. Learn something new—there is always something new. Start putting in more time. Realize that there are people out there doing what you want to do and they’re willing to work 2, 3, 4 times more than you are.
Stack Skills—meaning don’t just try to be a great painter, learn how to matte & frame an art piece, teach classes, study other forms of art, psychology, philosophy etc. Stack different skills in order to make yourself unique among your peers.
My Biggest Takeaway
Evaluate your goals, evaluate your work ethic, realize that no matter what you’re doing, there is always room for improvement.
Long Story Short:
If you want to be great—you have to work ridiculously hard. You have to be willing to make sacrifices, show up every day, do the work, and keep moving forward. It’s not going to happen by sitting still & wanting it. Nobody is handing out jobs to artists, creatives, photographers, designers, etc.
If you want to be great but you aren’t willing to put in the work—maybe you really don’t want to be great after all?