Ronnie Coleman was recently on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Here’s an exchange about working out today, after all the surgeries, with all the pain, and after all the glory of Mr. Olympia is in the past.
Joe Rogan: Well, I follow you on Instagram and I watch a workouts and it’s inspiring that after all this you still love working out. You can really tell. I mean, you enjoy it.
Ronnie Coleman: Still a hobby. Look forward to it every day.
Rogan: And … does it give you any pause at all, knowing that you’ve been through all these surgeries?
Coleman: Nah. You know, when you’re doing something that you truly love — enjoying doing — that’s what you look forward to doing all the time. Regardless of, you know, how you feel.
Of course, I’m still in pain and all that kind of stuff.
Rogan: Are you in pain all the time?
Coleman: Yeah, but as long as I’m doing what I love doing, I’m okay. You take that away. Then I probably won’t be okay.
Coleman is a great example of someone who made a career out of doing something he loved. Not everyone has the opportunity to do that. There are endless numbers of people who also loved lifting that didn’t succeed in bodybuilding, so loving what you do isn’t the only factor to his success.
People will say “I’d do this for free. I love it.” But then they’re talking about, like, putting TPS reports together.
It’s good to see an example of someone who started doing it for free as a hobby, continued to do it and got paid as literally the single best in the world at bodybuilding, and then continues to do it afterward.
Here are some other thoughts I’ve come across about how you can get to the point where you’re enjoying at least parts of your career…
- Think of what comes easy to you that other people find difficult. Then consider if it’s a valuable skill. There are career multipliers that you might happen to be good at already. Look at different kinds of communication. Are you good at public speaking. (Or at least not terrified?) Do you enjoy writing? Do you enjoy meeting people? You’re in luck! Those things can usually layer on top of your current career to (A) help you excel in that career, opening up more opportunities and (B) add an element to your day to day that you enjoy.
- Look back to what you enjoyed doing as a kid. Coleman already loved lifting when he was in high school. Even if this is more for finding re-energizing leisure options, you can take a look at how you used to spend time as a kid. Are you still doing those things now? If not, why not?
- Or learn to love it by being good at it. There are plenty of reasons to feel stuck in your career. Creating challenges can make work more fun. From Eric Barker’s “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”:
The workplace wants you to be good at your job, and that makes sense, but that’s like a game you’re too good at. It’s dull. Good games have that 80 percent failure rate to inspire you to keep working, but the office doesn’t like failure. Zero failure means zero fun. And there’s so much busy work that offers no challenge at all. How is that engaging?
The good news is that this is partly in our hands. Research shows we often don’t do what makes us happiest; we do what’s easy. Like if we don’t feel like going out with friends, we may make ourselves, and then we have fun. We think we want to rest, but what we really want is a different type of challenge.
We crave ease, but stimulation is what really makes us happy. We try to subtract at work, do less, check out. These are signs of burnout. We don’t need to subtract; we need to add novel challenges to create engagement.
You can try to increase motivation by actively trying to improve in that career. You might start enjoying it more if you can get beyond just being proficient at your work. You may be able to get to a place where, because you’re good at it, there’s less frustration. Then you can get good enough at it that you have some career capital to shape your day-to-day to where you’re enjoying what you’re doing.
We can’t all be Mr. Olympia, but we can still enjoy the work.