My friend Monica Bhide posted the video below on Facebook this morning. After watching it, I sat motionless for about 10 minutes, staring out of the window, as the message sank into my head and heart.
We have all heard the phrase, “Do what you love, and you never work a day in your life.” For many people, that expression seems like new-age, pie-in-the-sky thinking, or just downright bullshit. The idea of being so enraptured with what you’re doing that it doesn’t feel like work seems like folly, because we all have responsibilities. Right? We have bills to pay. Kids to feed, clothe, educate, and entertain. We own or have things that won’t just take care of, or pay for, themselves — house, yard, cars, you know…stuff. Meanwhile, a lot of us go through life feeling like we’re stuck. There’s a pretty wide range of emotions here. Some people may flat-out hate their jobs. Others don’t hate their jobs, but merely see it as a means to an end. There are some people, though, that absolutely love their jobs. I think folks huddled at that very small end of the bell curve of job satisfaction are people who truly see what they do as their life’s work. They are following or acting on their passion, not a job.
I find myself in a job that I find challenging, but it’s not what I want to do day-to-day, or with my life, generally. It’s frustrating, at the somewhat middle-of-life age of 47, to be struggling with the question “What is it that I really want to do?” It’s not what I’m currently doing. I am sure that some people, thinking specifically of my step-mother, view typing that last sentence as career suicide. But isn’t that kind of the point of Alan Watts’ message in the video? I am looking to summon the courage to break free from a career, and turn my attention and effort to something that makes my heart sing.
There are days, weeks, or sometimes just minutes or hours, where I think that I would love to write. Write about what, though? — shrug I think that I would love to write about technology. I would like to write a lifestyle column. I think that I would like to write about productivity. I just want to write. Other times, I want to have the freedom to photograph the things that catch my eye and make art. I want to travel and explore new cultures, food, style, landscapes, and languages. I want to see…well…everything. I am so curious that it is sometimes tough to hone in on one things.
It pains me to be so wed to a paycheck that I am, knowingly and willingly, forfeiting fulfillment and pursuit of my passion. I’ve got a son that just started college. I cannot possibly make a move right now, right? Do I hunker down for four more years and get him through college, or do I follow my dreams; thus setting a good example for my son to be true to his heart. In all candor, I really want to slam my hand on the big red button and stop this Matrix-like existence.
It takes real courage to follow what’s in your heart and trust that everything will work out the way it’s meant to be. Fear of failure stops most of us in our tracks. Interestingly, for me it’s absence of one clear, burning thing that I want to pursue. I am putting the cart before the horse. I am consumed with the “what if?” scenarios about following a dream, and I don’t have a clear sense of the dream. It’s a tough to be in a place where you don’t know exactly what you want to do, but know, without a doubt, that it’s not what you’re currently doing. Fortunately, I have an incredibly supportive wife, who took her own leap many years ago. I know that she will support me, if/when I am convinced that I need to do ___.
For what it’s worth, I am rather fond of the new-agey stuff. I read a lot of books about overcoming fears, imperfections, self-doubt, and finding the resolve to do great things. At some point, I need to stop reading and start doing. Otherwise, I’m just this guy.
If you set aside your fears, took a bold leap, and are now following your true passion, I’d love to hear from you. I have lots of questions.
- How did you do it?
What proved to be the tipping point that led to your leap?
How did/do you sustain the drive, knowing that there could be a lot more ebbs than flows?
How did you handle things with your family — significant other, kids, parents — and friends?