That thing you’re really good at (that you also hate doing)

  Photo by  pan xiaozhen

Photo by pan xiaozhen

There’s a thing you’re really good at, a thing that has earned you a great deal of praise, respect, validation, perhaps even money.

You hate doing that thing.

You probably first realized you were good at it in school or early in your career. You did it once and someone — a parent, a teacher, a colleague, someone you respected — said, “Wow, you’re really good at this!”

(Mine is writing other people’s resumes.)

The validation felt good. You wanted more of it. So you kept doing the thing, even though you hated it. It seemed to have a strange magic power. Whenever people found out you could do it, they immediately asked if you could do it for them. The more you did the thing, the more validation you received, and on and on it went.

Except now you’re tired of it. You don’t want to do that thing anymore, but you have a reputation as the person who’s good at it, so people keep coming to you — friends, clients, colleagues, family. Sometimes it feels like you’ll never fully escape it.

But I’ll tell you a secret: 

You don’t have to keep doing that thing you hate doing.

You can say no. All the power rests with you. Sure, you’ll disappoint people. You might have to let go of the validation they once heaped upon you. Things could get a little awkward. Some people might even get angry at you for saying no.

But you can say it, all the same. And when you do, you will discover how liberating the word “no” can be! You will be free to spend your time and energy in other ways that matter more, on things you enjoy or at least things that fit your actual job description. 

And deep inside of you, a tiny spark will flame to life, a spark that teaches you how powerful you are, that you can say no, that you don’t have to please everyone all the time, that it’s OK to put your own needs first.

There’s a thing you’re really good at, that you also hate doing.

You don’t have to do that thing anymore.