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Choosing Your Fires

Reframing “Find your passion” with “What struggle is worth it?”

“You know when you wake up, and right before you're actually awake, where there's that split second where you're not bombarded by the weight of everything. You know what I mean?”

Jack Antonoff gets deep with his introduction to Bleachers’ live track Goodmorning.

I find it incredibly relatable and a great lead-in to discussing fires.

The problem-free life is an illusion. We will never outrun problems or move beyond them. The problems will evolve and change.

Receiving MBA rejections or spending nights doing engineering problem sets are certainly not highlights of the application or college experiences, respectively. But it’s what I signed up for; they’re fires I willingly went through even knowing the pain or struggle that might result.

We all have weighty things that result from our choices. Different for each person. As Jack continues, “right as you wake up, everything is beautiful. Then you remember specific things...but also those deep guttural weighty things.”

Relationships, finances, retirement, life’s purpose, unfulfilled dreams. You get the gist.

These are all serious contemplations. And I’m certainly not alone in enjoying that split second in the morning.

But I also am learning to appreciate the pains. Because they too are a choice. It’s a level of maturity I'm striving towards: understanding and embracing the struggles that result from past choices.

Mark Manson and James Clear both discuss this understanding is important.

“Learn to sustain the pain you’ve chosen. When you choose a new value, you are choosing to introduce a new form of pain into your life. Relish it. Savor it. Welcome it with open arms. Then act despite it.”

Knowing that my values will introduce me to new fires, I’ll be more aware that the shiny goal ahead of me might have a dark side. And therefore more prepared to endure.

“Many people delay taking action because they hope to avoid suffering. They keep searching for a path that won’t involve tradeoffs. But some form of suffering is always inevitable. The process of taking action is the process of choosing your pain.” — James Clear

Goals come with problems, and playing it safe comes with problems. As you move to a higher level in your career, a new title in life, or a new location, you will wake up and be “bombarded by the weight of everything.” The choice has always been yours on how you respond to those fires.