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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

Don’t Do What You Love, Instead Do This

Don’t Do What You Love, Instead Do This

Everywhere you look, you will find people who are not happy about their work. They wish to get more out of life or are undecided about what to do next in life.

It is during these times where you hear a particular piece of advice. You may have given it to someone else or you may have heard it yourself:

Do what you love.

This phrase comes in many forms:

  • Follow your passion.
  • With hard work and determination, you can live the dream.
  • Find your calling.

The optimism behind these phrases is well-intentioned, however, it is the worst kind of advice to give to anyone. Instead, I present in this article some possible alternatives to this.

Why Doing What You Love Is Bad Advice?

Before jumping into what you should be considering, it is worth considering why this advice is a terrible one. Again, you may be someone who dishes this out like it is candy or perhaps this is the only piece of advice you have heard.

Before getting into too many details, we first need to develop and explore what passions are. These are the things that define ourselves and give us meaning.

Where the issue rests with this advice is using it as an ideal for whether your life is fulfilled or fulfilling.

It Can Lead to More Confusion

This advice raises a lot of questions. The biggest one is “what is passion? What does it mean to be passionate?”

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Psychology Today contributor Allison E McWilliams Ph.D. wrote an interesting part about our relationship to work [1]. She described three key work orientations:

  • Job orientation – work is a means to an end, allowing you to pursue other things in life.
  • Career orientation – care about work that allows the person to get promoted.
  • Calling orientation – the work you do creates your identity. Your meaning.

The point here is that while some of us may not be passionate about the work, you are doing the work for a reason. The advice of “doing what you love” falls more into a calling orientation and that might not be something you wish to pursue.

After all, there is nothing wrong with any of these orientations. Neither one of them is superior to the others. This can lead to confusion amongst people because they may have worked for completely different reasons.

Every Job Has a Sore Spot

Whether you are in-between careers or are feeling unhappy about your work, it can feel like the grass is greener on the other side. Following the advice of doing what you love feels great at first, but it can be short-lived.

It is because every job out there is going to have something that you are not going to enjoy. There is going to be something you have to do that makes it feel like busywork rather than something you are passionate about.

It becomes a chore and, in turn, you could lose the passion that is driving you forward to that path.

This raises another point.

Passions Do Not Always Need to Become Careers

People have multiple passions, which give us more options to do what we love. It seems great at first, but as mentioned, some things can cause our attitudes to shift.

Perhaps you have too many passions and you get lost, confused or frustrated with what you are trying to do.

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Or maybe you run into something that alters how you view your passion. For example, cooking is a great passion. But if you decide to become a chef, you would be subject to making the same dishes constantly with little variety.

When people give this advice out, some of them assume that we only have one thing that we love doing. But that is not true. You have several passions. Not to mention, you can turn many hobbies or passions into businesses today thanks to technology and business tools.

What Options Should You Consider?

Following something based on your passion can lead to problems, but it does not change the situation. As such, here are some things you can keep in mind that can help you lead a more fulfilling life.

1. Look at Your Skill Set

You have various skills and talents that can help in various parts of a job. If you have communication skills, chances are you are good at any kind of job that requires you to be vocal.

The idea is to look at yourself and see what sort of skills you have and how it matches up to something you wish to do. When you identify your strengths or something that requires little effort from you to perform, it means you have an opportunity to develop it further.

For example, if you are skilled around a kitchen, you know you have a few key dishes that you can make. But you can still grow that skill by trying out new dishes, picking up a few new spices. This allows you to broaden the skill at your own pace.

When you are looking at your overall skill set, you will be able to get a better idea of what you could pursue and how you can scale it. By spending some time with it, you can even find a way to do more with that skill at your current workplace.

2. Apply Some Tests

In Cal Newport’s book So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Search for Work You Love, Newport explains why passion is not something to pursue. Instead, passion is something that follows you after you have put in the hard work.

With this in mind, there are two tests that you can try out to determine whether a passion should stay a passion or whether you can turn it into a career.

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The first test is a passion test.

Think of something that you are passionate about.  But here is the catch: ask yourself whether someone will pay you to do that.

Going back to a previous point, money matters a lot and even if you are doing what you love, it is not going to fill empty stomachs or keep you warm at night. It is a harsh reality.

Not only that, but people do not necessarily care how passionate you are at something. Instead, they care about giving up money. Is the money they’re putting in giving them enough of a benefit? It all comes back to whether someone is willing to pay for your passionate work.

The second test is the experience test.

For this test, you want to gauge how much experience you have in that area and how much you are willing to spend in that area.

With this test, our passion becomes something that drives us to spend time and effort on something. The people who are being paid for a passion they have are unlike those at the bottom of the industry barely getting by.

The difference between those who are thriving and those who are not is that the former ones have gone through a feedback effect. This is when you practice hard enough that you figure out you are better than others when it comes to this task.

You can get other feedback in other ways, but overall, it creates a loop where that feedback motivates you to practice more. You begin to develop a system or a process that allows you to progress more and develop your skills.

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By conducting these two tests, you can begin to see in time whether this is something you want to be pursuing. With more feedback, you learn more about yourself and whether you can pursue this.

3. Be Practical, Not Only Passionate

In an article published in Quartz, Catherine Baab-Muguira talked about her reasoning for pursuing a career that pays well over doing something you love. [2]

She argues that when you are working for money, your purpose for work is clearer. Not only that, but money is also a problem that you can mostly solve, and it is a good goal to have overall.

Her philosophy is that the more money you make now, the less you will need later on in life and the less you will have to worry about it when pursuing those other passions.

It is a practical approach. After all, money cannot buy happiness, but it can lead to many happy events in life. Overall, it can be a good motivator for you, and it can shape how you are viewing your work now.

Passion is something that comes in the work that we do. It is something that follows us rather than something we ought to pursue. Instead of taking that advice, spend time looking at yourself and begin to ask questions.

What are you passionate about? What passion can help you make money? Is it something you know you can do for a long time?

Keeping a level head and thinking rationally about our passions can help us sift through what can bring us to a new and improved life.

Final Thoughts

Doing what you love seems good at first. It makes us feel good because it leads us to believe that we are always in control of our lives. However, the harsh reality of life makes this advice impractical.

It is the best scenario for us if we can do what we love for a living, but it is also fine if not.

Learn More About Doing What You Love

Featured photo credit: Gianandrea Villa via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 30, 2021

How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power

How to Build Self-Esteem: A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power

Self-esteem is a driving force behind our confidence and how we see and feel about ourselves. It encompasses our sense of value, significance, and self-worth. That’s why learning how to build self-esteem is essential to personal growth and happiness.

Research has shown that over 80% of people struggle with varying levels of low self-esteem. Yet, having a solid sense of self-esteem has the chance to positively impact and powerfully transform every area of your life – from your relationships to your career, from your health and well-being, to your fulfillment and levels of success.

A deep feeling of self-esteem is something that needs to grow and be nurtured over time. In this article I will show you the things you can do right now to learn how to improve self-esteem. Then, you will realize your hidden potential and your self-worth.

What Is Self-Esteem?

While the dictionary defines it as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect,” put simply, self-esteem is the overall sense or feeling you have about your own self-worth or self-value.

Self-confidence, on the other hand, is more about how you feel about your abilities and will vary from situation to situation. You can have great self-esteem (feeling good about yourself overall) but low self-confidence about a particular situation or event (e.g. public speaking). Or, maybe you’ve got great self-confidence in an area (e.g. a sport that you play) but low self-esteem overall.

A strong and solid sense of self-esteem comes from deep within, from a belief in your importance, your value, and your worthiness. The good news is that there are many ways to improve self-esteem, which we will look at below.

Causes of Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem can stem from many areas. It is largely influenced by how other people see and treat us, and our relationships, which is why the influence of our parents has the most significant impact on our self-esteem. Here are some of the most common causes of low self-esteem:

An Unhappy Childhood

Those who grew up with critical, abusive, or neglectful parents are more likely to face challenges with their own self-worth, while those who experienced acceptance, approval, and affection are more likely to have a higher sense of self-value.

Traumatic Experiences

Lower levels of self-esteem can also stem from bad experiences or traumatic events, such as being bullied or being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Essentially, it can stem from anything that has brought up feelings of shame, guilt, or worthlessness.

Experiences of Failure

For some, lower self-esteem is connected to their success and accomplishments, or lack thereof, including experiences of failure, or not achieving goals or expectations.

Negative Self-Talk

Many cases of low self-esteem are perpetuated by negative self-talk. This could be a story that you have created yourself or that someone else created for you long ago that you continue to believe, and it gets in the way of learning how to build self-esteem.

Maybe for you, like for many others, low self-esteem is rooted in your feelings about your appearance or body image. It’s not just about how you look; it’s about how you feel about how you look. We are bombarded with messages from an early age about being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, or too much of anything, or not enough of something else.

What Happens When You Lack Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem can lead to significant physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and addiction. In fact, research shows that adolescents who suffered from low self-esteem grew up to have more physical and mental problems, higher rates of criminal convictions, lower earnings, and challenges with long-term unemployment[1].

On the flipside, a strong sense of self-esteem will help you experience greater health and well-being, better relationships, and higher levels of happiness, fulfillment, and success. One study even correlated higher levels of self-esteem with higher earning potential[2].

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Assess Your Own Self-Esteem

Individuals with low or compromised self-esteem can see themselves as inadequate, incompetent, and even unlovable. While they often know at a “conscious” level that these things aren’t true, they still feel that way deep within. That’s what makes challenges with self-esteem so tricky; it’s often not about the reality of what is, but the perception of what someone feels.

Those with low self-esteem may appear socially withdrawn or quiet, negative, insecure, indecisive, unhappy, or even angry. They are more likely to find themselves in unhealthy relationships, have a fear of failure, and worry about what others think.

On the flipside, those with high self-esteem, more often than not, feel a strong sense of self-worth and value, feelings of confidence and acceptance. They tend to find themselves in healthy relationships (and ditch the bad ones), take care of themselves, and are more resilient when faced with setbacks, obstacles, and failures. In general, they tend to stand up more for what they believe in and aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

Self-esteem can be measured on a scale of high to low: while too little has its obvious downsides, you can also have too much of a good thing. Those with an overly strong sense of self-esteem may appear cocky, narcissistic, and self-important.

Finding the balance of a strong sense self of self-worth and humility is important as we go through life, which is why it’s so important to learn how to build self-esteem the right way.

How to Build Self-Esteem (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Self-esteem issues are generally found in the gap between who you are and who you think you should be. Paradoxically, most causes of low self-esteem stem from how others see or treat you, yet the solution to increasing your self-esteem is something that needs to come from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Learning how to increase self-esteem is not an easy task. While I wish I could wave a magic wand for you, what I’ve learned is that building and nurturing your self-esteem takes time. However, it is a worthwhile investment. Once you’ve done the work, you’ll reap the many rewards and benefits for a lifetime.

Below are some great strategies to start your journey.

1. Get to the Root Cause

Identifying the real, root cause(s) for your low self-esteem is one of the most important things you can do to build it back up.

We named many reasons above. Maybe one of them, in particular, resonated with you. Perhaps your parents said you were “never good enough” or that you wouldn’t amount to anything. I work with clients all the time who share stories of their parents’ behavior and the significant impact it has had on their self-esteem.

Whatever experiences you may have had, and whatever the root issue might be for you, I strongly recommend you get someone to support you through the process to identify and deal with it. Find a counselor, therapist, coach or someone who is trained in helping uncover and address these traumas, past experiences, and root issues. These folks have proven tools, tactics and strategies – and best of all, they help you experiment in a safe space.

While you may be able to do a lot of work on your own, my experience is that if you don’t address the root cause, that feeling will creep back in over time. You can’t run away from the truth, and you can’t band-aid over old wounds. You’ve got to get to the source, which won’t be easy, but if you want to learn how to build self-esteem, it needs to be done.

For this step, Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment may help. It can show you where you feel fulfilled and where you feel you are lacking. Try it today!

2. See Yourself How Others See You

See yourself how others see you, and talk to yourself as others would talk to you. What do I mean by this? Think about the person who loves you the most in this world.

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Now, take a moment, zoom out, and imagine you are standing in their shoes and watching through their eyes. Look from their perspective and see yourself as they see you.

What do you notice about you? What would they say to you? What do they love about you? What do they see in you?

3. Do Your Best

Simple advice is often the best advice. When you do your best and place your full effort into each and every day, you start to feel better about yourself.

Now, your best might change from day to day, and some days, your best won’t be as good as it was the day before. It’s important to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with what you have, right now, in that situation, with that time frame, your level of skill or knowledge.

When you know you’ve done your best, you have no regrets and nothing about which to feel bad or guilty. If you do your best and then someone criticizes you, it’s easier to brush off when you know you did the best you could.

I ask my clients (and myself) this question all the time, whether they’re ruminating over something they’ve said, thinking about what they could have done better, or just disappointed about an outcome they had hoped to achieve. Did you do your best? If the answer is yes, then there’s nothing more you can do – until next time.

4. Engage in Activities That Satisfy You

The key word here is satisfy. Find things that give you a deep sense of satisfaction, a feeling of fullness and purpose.

Too often we engage in activities or relationships that leave us feeling self-conscious, empty, or terrible about ourselves. It’s time to put more focus, time, and effort to do those things that feel good for your body, mind, and spirit, and to engage in things that make you feel whole and full.

Identify what satisfies you mentally (e.g. solving a big problem or creating something new), emotionally (e.g. hanging out with friends or volunteering), physically (e.g. exercising, eating right, or taking care of your body), and spiritually (e.g. meditation or going to your place of worship).

When you engage in something that makes you feel good and, even more importantly, makes you feel worthwhile, you will experience greater self-esteem.

5. Identify Who You Are and Be True to That

Self-awareness and a little soul searching are critical to your success in life and key to learning how to build self-esteem. In some cases, lack of self-esteem stems from a lack of knowing the kind of person you truly are, and the value you bring. Many of us have spent so much time trying to fit in and please others that we’ve completely lost our sense of self.Spend time paying attention and getting to know yourself. Take time to identify who you are. Some things to think about include:

  • Identifying your strengths and talents
  • Acknowledging your value and worth, and uncovering your passions
  • Understanding your values and what’s important to you
  • Thinking about how you want to serve or contribute to the world
  • Acknowledging your blind spots

6. Accept Yourself

Make the decision to accept the imperfectly perfect you. Know that regardless of what you have been told, what has occurred, what wrong you have done, or what challenges you have faced, you are enough. You are doing the best you can with what you have.

We all want to be accepted for who we are. But first, we must accept ourselves.

7. Stop Compromising Yourself

When you let others push you around, put everyone else’s needs before your own, or cave in to what everyone else wants because you don’t want to rock the boat, it lowers your self-esteem. You are putting their needs ahead of yours, and your mind thinks to itself, “I guess I’m not that important.”

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I worked with two different clients just last week on this very thing. They were both putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own, and it was having a significant and negative impact on their health and well-being.

Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t take care of your kids and spouse, meet your work deadlines, or be there for your friends. But you’ve also got to take care of you. We compromise ourselves to fit in, to be loved, and to be acknowledged. However, if you are constantly compromising yourself, you will never truly feel satisfied.

How often do you let what others think of you or need from you dictate your actions or decisions?

If you want to learn how to build self-esteem, be strong, and stand up for yourself. It’s time to identify what you need and want for your life.

Decide what is important to you. Naming these things will give you an inner compass to guide you. Then, identify your boundaries and the non-negotiables in your life. What are you not willing to put up with anymore? 

Get clear on these things now, so when the time comes to push back, stand up, or politely say no, you have the back-up and inner guidance to do so.

8. Look for the Good

We tend to find what we are looking for. Put simply, people tend to (often unconsciously) look for things that reinforce what they already believe to be true.

The same goes for how you see yourself. If you believe you are worthless or unlovable, you will find data to back that belief up. However, if you believe you are worthwhile and beautiful, or courageous and strong, you will soon find data to back that up instead.

The challenge with those who suffer from low self-esteem is that they have gotten into a habit of finding what’s wrong. Often, there is a negative message lodged in their subconscious mind. In some cases, they’ve just gotten really good at seeing all their faults and shortcomings.

The easiest way to change what you see is to change what you’re looking for. Catch yourself doing something right.

Try this: Grab a journal, and for the next 21 days, write down 3 things you value, appreciate, or like about yourself. This might include acknowledging your wins or successes, things you are proud of, or noticing what you feel good about. While it may feel challenging at first, you’ll soon start to rewire your brain to see more of what’s right and less of what’s wrong.

9. Stop Negative Self-Talk

Much of your belief systems come from the negative story you are telling yourself. Your mind believes what you tell it, and if the story you are playing (over and over again) in your mind is one of the horrible mistakes you’ve made, that’s what you will continue to reinforce and strengthen through negative thoughts, which makes building confidence very difficult.

Tell yourself you are worthless and incapable; your mind will believe that. Tell yourself you are able and awesome; your mind will believe that, too.

Catch the negative self-talk and replace it with positive self-talk today if you want to learn how to build self-esteem.

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10. Find Your Tribe

Since so much of our self-esteem is influenced by our relationships and how others see and treat us, it’s even more critical that you surround yourself with healthy, uplifting, encouraging, and supportive people.

Find people who know the real you, people who can speak to the value you bring, your talents and worth. These are people who can be real with you, sharing the positive and the constructive in an uplifting way.

11. Take Chances

Many great minds have shared that failure has been key to their success, the stepping stone to their greatness, and the catalyst to their growth. You might have heard the stories about Michael Jordan being cut from his varsity basketball team, Oprah Winfrey being told she wasn’t “meant to be on TV,” and Steven Spielberg being rejected for film school not just once, but three times.

Taking chances, experiencing failure, and building resilience is key to learning how to build self-esteem. After all, if you never take a chance, you will never know – and you’ll stay stuck in your story.

12. Find Meaning and Create Goals

As humans, we all need to learn, develop, grow, and contribute. When you are suffering from low self-esteem, this can create a vicious cycle:

You don’t feel great about yourself, so you don’t go out there and make stuff happen. Because you’re not being successful, you feel a lack of self-worth.

    It’s time to break the cycle.

    Take steps that allow you to become who you are truly capable of being. Perhaps this is about finding something that gives you meaning, or maybe it’s about the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be. For example, the act of helping others (contributing, volunteering and being kind) have shown to not only increases self-esteem, but also happiness, health, and satisfaction[3].

    Start with something small and work your way up. Each small success will bring about greater confidence and, ultimately, a stronger sense of self-esteem.

    The Bottom Line

    The journey to higher self-esteem will be challenging, but the challenge is what builds depth, strength, character and resilience. If the reward is greater self-esteem, which leads to greater relationships, a better career, increased health and well being, more success, and a greater sense of self-worth, it’s worth it.

    While you live in a society where you are constantly bombarded with messages of not being enough and how you could be better, just remember this:

    You are deserving of love, happiness, and success. You are imperfectly perfect. It’s not by chance that you have arrived here, on this planet, at this very time, and even if you feel inadequate, unlovable, or unworthy, know that you are none of those things.

    You may not be able to believe this yet, but some part of you, deep down inside, knows this to be true.

    Now, it’s time to take the steps above and realize it for yourself.

    More on How to Build Self-Esteem

    Featured photo credit: Barbora Polednová via unsplash.com

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