When I was in University, a professor told me about The Grind: repeating the same tasks every day for forty years, give or take. You wake up, go to work, and come home. And at some point throughout the week, you clean the sink and buy groceries. Granted, your professional life may be dotted with promotions and other successes, but basically you go in every day until you no longer have to. It can become kind of a drag.
Some people will tell you they work in industries where “every day is a new adventure!” That is horse shit. Brain surgeon seems like a wild, exciting profession, until you realize that’s all it is: brain surgery, every. single. day. Or take what I do: I’m a radio presenter. Live broadcasting must be crazy, right?! All I do is talk into a microphone. Twenty times a day.
A solution to The Grind is focusing on the minutia. Sounds counterintuitive, right? But by concentrating on the particulars of your profession, you begin to hone your craft. Think about the mechanics of what you do: the hundreds of microscopic movements that make up your tasks, like the ticking of a watch.
We make the mistake of trying to improve our overall situations, when we should be drilling down to the singular fragments. Again, consider my profession: I want to become a better radio presenter. I need to refine the way I sit, the volume of my voice, the rhythm of my speech, how I tease new music, and chat with callers, among hundreds of other individual things. The progression of performance will be the sum of many microscopic improvements.
The Grind is more than your career, it’s also a barometer of passion. Whenever we start new projects, we become easily excited. Every new idea is a chance to create something big. But as days become months, the spark diminishes. Eventually, that bright, shiny venture dulls. Remember that
workout program lifestyle change you started in January? Three weeks later, you were hanging clothing on your treadmill, and tripping over kettlebells. The Grind is constantly taunting you, waiting for you to fold. Don’t.
Embrace tediousness. Break tasks into simple steps, and focus on completing one at a time. Practise and perfect each infinitesimal part of what you do, until you’ve mastered it from an atomic level. Then, The Grind won’t seem like a curse. It’ll be a challenge.