Choose the right kind of hard
As a kid, I made stop-motion videos with toy cars on Windows 98 and a low-resolution webcam. In my teens, I animated stick figures battling each other. In my early 20s, my animation obsession escalated, and I began the grueling process of growing a YouTube following.
My ambition for quality was limitless. I hand-drew animations frame by frame, enduring back-breaking work, a knotted shoulder, and frequent hand cramps. I spent hundreds of hours labouring, waking up at 5 am to work early and animate until 9:30 am or when the office filled up.
As a less-than-fluent animator, scenes that took a professional a day might have taken me a week. It usually required six to twelve months to complete a couple of minutes of animation. But when I finished, the feeling was magical. Seeing a vision become reality made the difficult journey seem worthwhile.
Publishing on YouTube was exciting, but the response was often underwhelming. Hundreds of hours of labor yielded just a handful of views and a few chuckles from friends. And I began questioning why I was doing it. In reality, I hated the process, and the satisfaction of completion was fleeting. It took time to be honest with myself about it, but all I sought was validation and view counts.
Then I began to wonder what might happen if I applied this effort to something with a bigger impact, like a business. Perhaps the numbers would be more meaningful? And the validation would come from genuinely helping others rather than just making them laugh?
So, I made the switch. I quit animating and chose a different challenge—one where I'd enjoy the journey rather than the destination and make a useful difference in the world.
And I still get to see a vision become reality, but now on a grander scale. And one that feeds my family.
The moral of my story is cliché but important: we all have the same hours in a day, and how we spend them is our choice.
The level of difficulty is often similar—whether you're scrubbing blood from a butcher's freezer for six hours or untangling the complexities of global e-commerce logistics. But the potential rewards can vary significantly.
Choose the right hard for you.
Maybe this was useful. Maybe not. Reply to this email or let me know your thoughts in the comments.