Jensen-Coon: Hard Work and Dedication Bring Simplistic Fulfillment

By Kelcy Jensen-

Living a simple life has become trendy. Minimalism is becoming increasingly popular and new priorities are arising. Instead of work being the number one priority and money being a motivator, it seems the paradigm is shifting. Millennials want to prioritize experiences. They are considering more often how and with whom time is spent. Lately, it seems people constantly talk about wanting meaningful lives and time to do what they love. A rivalry is arising between a more traditional consumer-driven society and our millennial generation looking to strip itself of unnecessary things to find significance. Finding purpose in life takes hard work, something I think has been forgotten and ignored.

Growing up in the wide-open spaces of a cattle ranch in Montana, I learned a different type of simple living. I was ignorant of the fact that it was considered such until I moved out of Montana and people would express their desires to understand what it meant to live the life I had growing up. I came to realize that, yes, there was less hustle and bustle, which made me understand that my way of life had been simpler in Montana. In other ways, people’s questions and comments confused me. It seems there is some false perception of the simple life, a sort of dreaminess of ranching. People don’t realize that country folks work hard all year round. Their trades are not dream-like states that provide nothing but bliss and relaxation. It is difficult and demanding which rewards and elevates the soul.

Ranchers and farmers are slaves to their trades. Most of them take no vacations throughout the year and they are required to work long hours that are physically taxing. There is work that has to be done on every holiday, as well as working seven days a week for long stretches of the year. They even end up working night shifts during the time of year while cows are calving and most of them end up working their whole lives starting at young ages. If someone is a cowboy at heart, they let their heart die as a cowboy. These men and women know nothing else – not out of ignorance, but because they have an unwavering dedication to their way of life.

There is beauty in this way of living. While these country folk work almost endlessly, they control their own schedules. Another admirable trait is the sense of pride and passion in their work. Ranchers and farmers are not burdened with the amount of work they have because they are a part of the land and have a responsibility to take care of the livestock that depends on them. There are no excuses. They get it done, day in and day out.

This way of working disregards the idea of clocking in, checking off the to-do list and then clocking out; it is about learning the ebb and flow, dealing with the challenges and treating the land, cows and machinery like family. I have heard ranchers cuss at all the things they take care of, but just like their family they never give up on them. If something is broken, they fix it. If an animal gets lost, they find it. If an animal is sick they do everything possible to heal it.

In some ways, this principle of living a simple life has less to do with having all the time in the world to do what you want and more to do with a search for purpose and autonomous motivation. These men and women live and breathe this lifestyle because it is a mindset, not just a job; this job makes them who they strive to be.

Perhaps this is the same drive that millennials are trying to use but in different terms. In a time where jobs are lacking personal fulfillment, more people are creating blogs, starting their own companies and following dreams of being musicians and writers. It seems the millennial generation is rebelling against the traditional views of society and creating their own values. I say more power to them.

A word of caution, however. Obviously, not everyone can have the job that allows lots of travel time and money, which seem to be the primary goal of our generation. The reason people find the cowboy life fascinating and desirable has to do with how much a cowboy loves and dedicates his or her life to the work. We cannot expect to gain passion and fulfillment at that cowboy level without some dedication and effort put into our work.

Recently I saw a movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This movie is about a man dedicated to making the greatest sushi in the world. He described the reason he loved making sushi, and the reason he was so good at it had to do with the hard work he put into perfecting it day-in and day-out. In the movie Jiro Ono said, “You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably.”

So maybe you are not a YouTube celebrity or earning an income from blogging. I believe loving what you do and being willing to work hard even in the face of doubt and trial can lead you to a fulfilling life. We must always strive to be better and look within ourselves to find out what we truly want and need to fulfill our deepest desires. Fulfillment within simplicity is achieved through facing complicated situations and sticking with them until you realize that the satisfaction from hard, dedicated work is the ultimate gratification.

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