I realized last night the way I have worked through my whole life.
The thought occurred to me as I was (finally) at home having eaten dinner, fed the rabbits and dog, and generally taken care of everything that I needed to do. I was feeling happy that I had finally arrived at "my time" of the day, the time where I get to do the things that I love and enjoy.
And then it suddenly hit me in the midst of doing them: this is how it has always been.
I was relatively good at school, through an undeserved combination of some degree of intelligence and interest. I excelled, but that's not what I think about as I review those years. What I think about instead was the things that I did after school: role playing games, running around in the woods, music, reading, drama, dreaming, being with friends. School was simply something (a large something, to be sure) that I had to endure in order to get to the things that I enjoyed. Learning was (and is) a joy, but it is not directly connected in my mind with the 8 hour school day spread over 20 years. It was the things after school that I lived for.
And that is the habit I learned.
Suddenly it makes sense to me why I continue to do things (careerwise) that I don't really enjoy but endure: because I have learned that work is something you simply plow through in order to get to the parts of your life (seemingly precious and seemingly little) that you really do care about and enjoy. In fact, you probably shouldn't have any expectation of enjoying the largest expenditure of time in your life; it's just something you need to get through.
It flows over into every area of my life: my relationships, my eating habits (I tend to plow through food in order to get to the stuff I really like, generally dessert), even sometimes my viewing habits (go through the parts of the movie or book I sort of tolerate in order to get to the scenes I like).
So what do I do with that?
I'm not really sure. There are hints around the edges that this is a serious obstacle, one that if properly handled could actually make a significant change in my life and how I view and participate in work. The difficulty is that I'm not really sure how to do it (although to be fair, the problem has only been identified for the last 12 hours).
How do I change my view of what must be done versus what I want to do when I have spent my whole life looking at it in one way?