Tuesday, January 26, 2016

52 Weeks to a Simpler Life – Tip #20 – Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow

It's been established that 70% (an average based on multiple surveys and polls) of the population don't like their jobs or what they are doing for a living. So, this begs the question, Why? Why do people keep doing something they don't like? I'm talking about their J.O.B.s.

I've mentioned this before in other articles like the ones I did about Living Life and Defining Yourself. Why do we settle for whatever ultimately seems to happen? This question can be applied to many things such as relationships, the homes we live in, where we live and the specific thing this article focuses on, our job, career, occupation, profession or however you want to describe what you do to earn your financial income to afford the lifestyle you live and the overhead to sustain it.

Have you truly taken the time to analyze why you do what you do and why you keep doing it? To many, this may seem like a rhetorical question. You're scratching your head and saying to yourself, is this guy, Ed, dense or from another planet? You're thinking to yourself, I do it because I have to. I have responsibilities and obligations. I have a family that needs to be housed, fed and clothed. I can't just stop doing whatever it is I do because I don't like it or I'm not happy doing it. That's a good rationalization for not allowing yourself to think outside the box.

What If Money Was Not A Consideration

Put aside the financial factor for a few seconds and allow yourself to daydream. Let's say money was not an issue. By some mysterious event, your financial needs were covered for the rest of your life. A long lost relative died and left you a sizable inheritance that will support you and your family comfortably for the rest of your life. Or maybe, you bought the winning Powerball lottery ticket and you instantly became wildly wealthy. Or, perhaps, you came up with an idea for a simple product you marketed on the Internet and, before you realized it, the world beat a path to your Internet doorstep and you have more money coming in than you ever imagined this little idea could generate. It doesn't matter how you became financially independent, let's just assume you did.

Now, what would you do? Would you keep working at the job you didn't like and are unhappy doing day in and day out? Probably not. So, what would you do? Would you still want to find something to do with all the newly found time? Is there something you enjoy doing so much you would do it for free? Would you volunteer your time and energy to something you feel deeply about? Would you devote your time to some kind of creative pursuits like painting, photography, sculpting, creating pottery, jewelry, writing music, performing music as an instrumentalists or vocalist, act, write plays, write books, invent things, etc.? What would you do if money were no longer an obstacle to doing what you love?

Years ago I discovered a book by Marsha Sinetar titled Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood. The book made such an impact on me I bought a pile of them and gave them to all my family, extended family and close friends for Christmas that year. I had heard the statement before about doing what you love and the financial rewards would follow, but Ms. Sinetar opened my mind to ideas I hadn't thought about before, like: “To find in ourselves what makes life worth living is risky business, for it means that once we know we must seek it. It also means that without it life will be valueless.”

I commend this book and any of her other books to you. I should hope it will reach into your core being and change your thinking in a positive way. I would recommend you start with Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood.

But, this is truly the thing to focus on. Life is brief. How much of it do you want to trade for money, to buy, own and maintain things and stuff you won't have much time to enjoy during your working years. And, in today's society, those working years may never end until you end. Or, as happens to many, illness, employer downsizing and even death may precede you reaching some proposed time when you can supposedly stop working and enjoy life.

I firmly believe life is not about working from some early age until the end of life is near or occurs. I believe it's about finding out what you love and doing it for your entire life. Through this you will be free in mind, spirit and body and experience the happiness and fulfillment life should be about.

The other night a small snow event occurred in the region (prior to the major Blizzard of 2016 that impacted some estimated 100 million people in at least 11 states). My friend and I watched the news. It was reported to be taking people in the Washington, DC metro area as long as five hours to get home from their J.O.B.s because of the treacherous road conditions.

One of my retired friends, lives in a Virginia suburb a couple miles from the Pentagon. He ruefully decided to leave his comfortable home to drive two miles to a shopping center to enjoy some ethnic food for dinner. When he left the restaurant to return to his home, remember, just two miles away, it took three hours to get there because of the road conditions and the traffic gridlock.

Maybe, as you're reading this article, you were one of those people. Or maybe you were somewhere else experiencing the same thing. This is, to me, like rubbing salt into a festering wound. The wound being the job you don't like and are not happy at. Is the money REALLY worth all this? Is this what life is REALLY about? I can tell you straight out – NOT ME!

Yes! I have been caught in traffic jams in various parts of the U.S. I sat for a few hours on the Long Island Expressway not moving an inch in 1981. I later found out it was because of a horrendous accident that took the life of popular singer, Harry Chapin. However, I also know that New York area drivers sat in gridlock “parking lots” on the Long Island Expressway during morning and evening rush hours regularly.

So, What Would You Do

Have you lost all your dreams by now? Do you no longer remember what it was you would do if you could live your dream life doing what you were passionate about? Or maybe your passions have changed. Maybe because you've lived life for a while and experienced a variety of things you have developed new dreams and passions. Yet, they remain just that, dreams. Why? Because you can't stop doing what you do, even though you dislike it and are not happy.

If you didn't have to be concerned about “the money,” would you change your life, move to another place, live in a different kind of home and start all over again doing something you loved and were passionate about? Are you concerned your spouse wouldn't want to make these changes? Or, the kids, who are going to grow up and leave in a few years anyway, wouldn't agree with your life change? Are you afraid your friends and family would think you're going through a mid-life crisis or experiencing some kind of menopausal issue?

Does any of that matter? Whose life are you living, anyway? Sure, there would be disruption and changes. Sure, you might have to gain some education or training. So what? Isn't life about living it to be fulfilled and happy? Didn't I already discuss the top 10 regrets people have on their death beds?

Now, let's put the money element back into the equation. Suppose you aren't financially independent. Suppose you really do need to generate the funds to maintain 'A' lifestyle. Suppose you decided to bite the bullet and follow your dreams and passions. If you're single, what the hell are you waiting for?

If you're married, this will require sitting down with your spouse and discussing how this could/will happen and how it impacts both of you. If you truly love one another, you'll come together on this change of life. If the marriage is not one based first and foremost on love and the happiness and fulfillment of each other, then, unfortunately, this might be the end of that road for both of you.

If the relationship is based on money, material stuff and status, I'd put some serious thinking into whether this relationship is really meant to be. What would happen if you or your spouse had a debilitating health issue arise and only one of you could work and no longer support the lifestyle you currently have? Worse, yet, suppose one of you died and the life insurance would only last for a couple years. Suppose one or both of your were downsized and put out to pasture by your employers. Could you sustain your current lifestyle and for how long? There are other possible scenarios that I won't even consider here.

It's possible and maybe probable neither of you would be able to live your dreams in any of those scenarios. But, would your life be any worse if you modified or changed your lifestyle to live your dreams and enjoy the rest of your life happy, joyful, passionate and fulfilled? Even if it meant doing what you love would mean less money? Is it possible your lifestyle might actually be improved if you didn't have the stress and hassles of the jobs you don't like and are unhappy with?

And, here's a thought that may really set you back in your socks. Suppose you were actually more successful financially after you made the change to doing something you truly love and are passionate about? Remember, Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow.

The Bottom Line

So, here it is, the bottom line. If you're not happy. If you're not enjoying what you do. If you dislike your job. If you're under piles of stress and hassles to keep up your lifestyle. If you hate dealing with traffic and congestion. If you live with a subliminal fear and cope with the uncertainly of what tomorrow may bring regarding your current J.O.B. Then why are you still doing it? What do you have to lose to change your life to doing something that will make you happy, joyful and fulfilled?

No! This doesn't happen overnight. You didn't get to where you are today in the blink of an eye. Yes! You may actually be starting all over again. However, this time you have the experience of already doing it at least once. So, you're ahead of the game.

Back in the early 80's, my wife (at that time), my toddler son, my mother-in-law and I were on a trip through Vermont and New Hampshire. We drove through a very small town. The “downtown” consisted of only about four or five buildings as I recall. One of them was a general store. We decided to stop for some snacks and refreshments. This was really an old fashioned, traditional country store, not some modern convenience store. It actually had a cracker barrel with a checker board on it where people came in, sat and played checkers.

We got to talking with the proprietors, a husband and wife. They had two school age daughters. I've always been interested in people and what makes them tick, so it was easy to engage them in conversation. I asked them about the store and how long they had owned it. It turned out that the husband had been a tennis pro at a sizable tennis club in downtown Manhattan, New York. The wife was a school teacher in the fairly affluent Scarborough, New York system where they had lived. It was a suburban bedroom community of New York City.

The husband had burned out between the commuting and the stress of dealing with the highly stressed, driven people of Manhattan. They talked about it and decided it was time. They both quit their jobs, cashed in their retirement accounts and bought the store in this tiny rural, agricultural area of Vermont. The farms in the region were, at that time owned by affluent people who used their rural properties as personal retreats during the warmer weather.

The couple took us upstairs and showed us their very comfortable and nicely appointed apartment over the store (at one time the storage area for the store). As I said, this was in the very early 80's. He told us they had taken a very large reduction in their income. They were now making about $24,000 a year over their costs of operating the store. Of course, their housing costs were negligible because they were factored into the cost of operating the store. So, their overall personal overhead was much lower than in Scarborough, New York.

They both agreed the trade off was worth it. This change was the best thing they could have done for themselves and as a family. They were all very happy. The daughters had adjusted to the move and their new school very well. None of them missed their former stressful and unfulfilled lifestyle. While it wasn't an overnight change, they did it fairly quickly once they all agreed it was the right thing to do.

So, stop wishing, whining, wondering and waffling. Take the time to pull out those dreams and passions, whatever they may be, dust them off and start asking the “what if” questions. Then come to a consensus, if you're not a solo player, about what is right for everyone. Understand what changes in lifestyle may be necessary and agree everyone can accept them.

Then begin researching how you'll make the change, where you may have to move to and what kind of accommodations you'll be living in. Determine if there is any specialized education or training required along with licensing or certifications. Be sure to take into account the cost of living where you may be going, tax ramifications, etc. Then, set the goals and make a plan to achieve them. Before you know it, you'll be living the life you love and loving the life you're living.

Yes! This requires some serious work. Making a change midstream and probably starting all over again is not an overnight event . . . in most cases. However, some people may be able to do it very quickly.

And here's the big question, “If not now, WHEN?” Remember life is brief and unpredictable. If you don't do whatever it is now, you may never live long enough until WHEN arrives?

So, Tip #20 of the 52 Weeks to a Simpler Life is to do what you love and the money will follow. Oh yeah, and don't worry about what would happen if everyone did this. If they did, most of the jobs no one is happy about wouldn't be filled and the work wouldn't get done. The world would come to a grinding halt. Not to worry! Only a tiny percentage of the population will actually take the action to chase and live their dreams and passions. The rest will remain stuck in the gridlock of life. Which one are you?

Share this with family and friends. I hope you'll give this serious consideration and take action. But, if you're not going to, maybe another family member or friend is dying to make a change and this might be the inspiration they need to do it.

Live free and be happy. EH   


Richard Rosen said...

What a thrilling post Ed! An invitation to go inside and probe what is truly important. One of the ways I keep myself on track, in alignment with what makes me tick, is to quiet my mind and allow my inner aspirations to arise. Then I reflect on how what I am doing enables their expression. In other words, am I living aligned with what makes me satisfied and fulfilled? Does it make glad? Do I have a sense that it’s the right thing for me?

From this all else that is needful follows. But it does take faith in what you discern, commitment to make it happen, and commonsense planning to implement it.

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Thanks, Richard.

It sounds like we could use the word meditate to some degree in regard to what you are saying. I think many people are wary of the word meditation. But, in reality, a lot of what meditation is all about is simply taking some quiet time for one's self and doing some introspective contemplation. Our society is so busy, many, if not most people never take any "personal time." And I don't define personal time as hanging out with the guys watching the game of the week or a girls night out or hitting a spa. I mean a personal "retreat" away from everyone and everything that clutters our minds.

I remember a time when I felt guilty about taking these personal retreats because I knew there was so much that needed to be done. Then, one day, I learned that we're all going to die with unfinished business. That's when I decided to start taking personal retreats - a half hour, an hour, a few hours and even a day where I do NOTHING except focus inward and determine what really matters, what I'm going to do next and what gets pushed aside. Sounds a lot like what you're saying.


Richard Rosen said...


Yes, meditate is a most suitable word, but as you say without the negative connotation it often carries. It is simply taking time, as you point as so well, to think about the issues of life: Why am I here? What is my purpose? Am I fulfilling it?

These are the grand purposes, but there is the reflecting upon the why’s and wherefore’s of the things you do – or plan to do. Do they resonate with your highest values? Would God be proud of you?

This introspection, meditation, quietness, first requires believing it’s important. Then a plan on how to set aside time EACH DAY to do it. I say daily because it needs to be a habit. Otherwise, you reflect deeply when serious problems arise. Might as well head them off beforehand. Now that’s living wisely.