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I am not a big fan of the saying “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Admittedly it’s a big call, going against a saying attributed to the learned Confucius but I think work is important.

And by work I don’t mean the incessant busyness that we have become addicted to in our modern, interruption-prone, technologically charged lives. No I am talking about the real work, the hard stuff, the stuff you want to avoid, the stuff that will change your life.

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A long time ago I realized that the jobs I was avoiding were the very jobs I needed to do. Picking up the phone and cold-calling prospects or working on my financial forecasts were tasks that, despite my discomfort, I embraced early in my career and immediately reaped benefits. I learned that the thing I said “I hate” or left till the last minute (or till never) revealed skillsets I needed to develop.

Despite my love of my job, they were my work.

And the more I did those less-loved tasks, the more I grew.

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It is critical to know what your work is. It may be as simple as not procrastinating, as frustrating as honing your writing, speaking or financial skills or it may be as complicated as facing your emotional reaction to a situation (or person) at work.

The work will be fatiguing, frustrating, annoying, and time-consuming. I can promise you will hate it, at first, and then you will start to hate it a little less. You will eventually realize you do the work without thinking, without emotion. It is at that point that you will know that is no longer your work. Because the task was never your work, your work was dealing with yourself. Your work was in facing the fear that sat behind your avoidance. Your work is to conquer your fears, shifting your state so you are stronger and ready for the next challenge.

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So know your work, it’s that thing you are always avoiding, that thing you never find time for. Know your work and do your work every day. Then you will truly have a job, and a life, which you love.