by Niall Doherty

“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!”

Ever hear that phrase? It’s a classic. Follow your passion and life will be peachy. That’s the message.

But I think it’s largely bullshit.

A few weeks back my friend Jordan Fried recorded an (awesome) interview with Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is a very successful author and entrepreneur. And he’s all about the hustle. Dude works literally fifteen hours a day, every day, week after week. He loves what he does and he does it non-stop. Accordingly, his advice to others who crave success is to find something you love doing, and then work your ass off.

Fair enough, but we all have limits.

See, I don’t think working fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, is sustainable for the vast majority of people. I’ve tried it before myself, on several occasions. Most I can last is a couple of weeks, and then I burn out, badly. Those few weeks of hyper-productivity and accomplishment are typically followed by a few weeks of ugh and self-loathing as I lay on the couch watching mindless YouTube videos, waiting for my energy and motivation to rebuild.

Why the self-loathing? Because I end up asking myself the Sinead O’Connor question over and over again: Where did I go wrong?

I thought maybe I wasn’t eating right. Maybe I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Maybe daily meditation and exercise would help. Well, I’ve experimented with all that stuff. And yes: diet, meditation and exercise have helped. But not to the point where I can get away with working fifteen-hour days indefinitely.

Then I thought that maybe I’m just not passionate enough. Maybe I don’t want it bad enough. Maybe I’m focusing on the wrong stuff. Maybe I’m just lazy. But that doesn’t seem to explain it either. I used to be so passionate about basketball that I moved thousands of miles from home to the city of my favorite team. I went to all their games and scored a media credential and spent all my free time writing about how they threw and bounced a leather ball around a hardwood floor. I was literally living my biggest, wildest dream, and I still got burnt out.

Nowadays I probably love nothing more than flirting and dating and all that lark. But even the thought of doing that stuff for fifteen hours a day, day in and day out… Are you mad!? I’d end up hating my life!

Recently I’ve wondered whether it’s simply beyond my capability to emulate someone like Gary Vaynerchuk. Maybe I’m just not hard-wired to work as hard and as long and as passionately as he does. And I think this may be true for most people. We look up to the Gary V’s of this world and we try to emulate them, but isn’t that a bit like looking up to Shaquille O’Neal and aspiring to some day be as tall as he is?

Maybe it’s not something Gary V does that makes him so successful, but who he is. Maybe he got lucky and was born with an incredibly robust motor, an impressive engine that can sustain fifteen hour work days.

I see other guys online who also seem to have a relentless supply of energy to devote to their work. Chris Guillebeau apparently answers hundreds of emails each day. I once heard him say that he doesn’t mind doing it because he loves interacting with people. Well, I love interacting with people, too, but not enough to sit in front of my inbox for several hours a day.

I want to be clear here that I’m not criticizing guys like Guillebeau and Vaynerchuk. If I could flip a switch in my brain and turn on the relentless energy and passion that these guys seem to possess, I’d do it in an instant and never turn it off. There’s so much that I want to do and learn and experience and accomplish that I often get frustrated with the need for such inconveniences as rest and recuperation. I would love nothing more than to have a better motor, an inexhaustible engine, such sustainably high energy levels that I could devote fifteen (or even just ten!) hours a day to the things I’m passionate about.

But, unfortunately, I don’t.

Chances are, you don’t either.

And it’s time to stop beating ourselves up about it. Time to stop feeling bad about that which we have no real control over. Time to start measuring ourselves against our own unique potential and capacity, rather than against that of the best of the best we follow online.

Because I’m really starting to believe it’s not a fair comparison.

More power to those guys who are happy working fifteen hour days. But I’m certainly not one of them, and I’ll no longer try to be.

How about you? Let me know via the comments.

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