If you noticed my conspicuous silence over the past couple weeks, it was because I went on a family vacation that was largely "unplugged." Just prior, I contributed a short post including a handful of facts regarding the amount of time we spend working during our lifetimes (101,568 hours, to be exact) with an equal number of questions posed to you. Through the blog comments, Tweets, Facebook mentions and emails in response, a number of very interesting thoughts were raised.
You better like what you do!
One reader summed it up simply saying, “Work hard and play hard!” Another, Greg Rittler, quoted a wise mentor of his: “You spend 50% of your time and 80% of your energy at work—you better like what you do!”
Indeed, it seems many people with options at their disposal deem the pursuit of a vocation about which they are passionate (the advice of another reader, Nathan Gehring) either a myth or an unworthy aim. Why is that? Do we rank stability or comfort or perceived safety above a path more meaningful to us? In short, yes. Even my college students—around 40 accounting majors each semester—rank job security as the number one reason for their chosen professions in an informal survey I conduct each semester. They haven’t even graduated yet, and they’ve already shelved their dream job for job security!?
One thoughtful reader, Brian, described my initial post as depressing; and rightly so if we view our time working only as a facilitator of those moments spent outside of work. Interestingly, he described his current job (online trading) as something separate from the path of a “real job,” already lamenting the time when he may be forced to re-enter in the “rat race.”
We live a life with too many seams.
And herein lies the fundamental dilemma at the core of this discussion of purpose and passion in our vocations—we live a life with too many seams. Work vs. Life. Work vs. Family. Work vs. Faith. Family vs. Friends. Family vs. Service. (You get the idea.)
I recently conducted a client meeting in which I may have received more wisdom than I was able to impart. I met with a married couple, each spouse in their 70s. When broached with the topic of retirement, they both viewed it as an unattractive, if not foreign, concept. This is not because they absolutely need the money (although it doesn’t hurt, of course), but because their vocations are simply an extension of who they are. Mrs. Client is an educator—both by personality and profession—endowing generations of college students with her wealth of knowledge and life experience. Mr. Client leads an entity providing an incredibly valuable community service to the city he calls home. What greater purpose could they serve retiring, prior to health forcing an occupational retreat?
There was a time in my life when I was acting as many different people. At home, I was one person. At school, I was another, and at work, yet another. With friends from school, I acted a certain way and with friends from church I was different, and so on. This was followed by an extended period of rebellion, during which I practically sought to disappoint or offend each various crowd with actions contrary to their standards or expectations (I “can’t wait” for my boys to go through that stage!).
The last 12 (or so) years, I’ve been attempting to reconcile who I am with what I do, what I say, and how I do it and say it. Yes, that means I’ve walked away from several different companies and career paths—some because they changed or I became more aware, but also because I changed. Of course, after 12 years of that daily pursuit, I’m still a green novice, but I’m buoyed by those who live an unabashed life and inspire others to do the same. (Check out Chris Guillebeau, Michael Hyatt, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Donald Miller, Leo Babauta, Derek Sivers, Tim Ferriss, Carl Richards, Rob Bell , Pat Goodman, and Jim Stovall, among MANY others, all focused from their own unique perspective on the truth that life is best lived honestly and deliberately.)
Mine is a biased perspective and I have an unfair advantage—my boss, Drew Tignanelli, is also a friend and mentor who is a student of personality distinctions. He understands me so well that he expects and welcomes my unpredictable evolution. He’s created an environment in which both employees and our company benefit when circumstances or people change. If you’re an employer, I urge you to foster such an environment, and if you’re an employee, I encourage you to seek an employer that rewards (and not stifles) creativity and growth…or create it yourself.
But one friend reminded me that while many people may have the choice of diverging from their original career plans for something more fulfilling, others don’t have that option available, due to a lack of means or ability. What should they do? To those unable to take that genuine leap of faith in a revelatory moment, I recommend taking just one step in the direction of that which draws you closer to a seamless life, and then follow it with another…and another…
Announcement coming next week!
In next week’s post, I’ll be making a big announcement that will coincide with an entirely new look for TimMaurer.com. I hope you’ll check in!