Thursday, May 17, 2012

On Doing What You Love

A few weeks ago my 11-year-old daughter and I were having a conversation about my at-home business and how much I don't love doing it anymore. The conversation went something like this:

Her: "Mom, why do you work so much if you don't love it?"

Me: "Well, I have responsibilities and we rely on the money."

Her: "But if you could do something else, what would it be?"

Me: "Writing. And Singing."

Her: "So why don't you just do that?"

Me: "Well, it's not that simple."

Her: "Why not?" (At which point I thought to myself, 'What's with all the questions? Is she two again?') 

Me: " see.....uummmm...I just can't...."

Her: "Mom, you tell me all the time that when I grow up I need to do something I love."

Me: "Yes, I do."

Her: "So why don't you just start doing what YOU love?"

Ugh. Busted. I was so totally overwhelmed by this you-need-to-practice-what-you-preach speech that I really was at a loss for words. 

It's true. I tell my kids almost daily that when they are deciding on a career or life path, they need to do whatever it is that they love; whatever gets them out of bed every morning; whatever makes them feel the happiest when they are doing it; the thing they can brag about doing that they actually get paid to do; the one thing they feel they were created to do. 

And yet, I am a horrible example for this. I fell into the trap of doing what I had to do (aka what someone else thought I should do because what I really wanted to do was "risky," or "unattainable," or "completely unaffordable" or "do you know how many people try to make it on Broadway and fail?") I was never encouraged (by the people paying the tuition, anyway) to go for my dreams. My true dreams. I settled for something less (and an aimless wandering road for several years) because I was convinced my dreams were out of my reach before I had even really tried. I ran the minute I felt resistance and went on my people-pleasing way, at a college I didn't love, with people I definitely didn't love, pursuing something I allowed myself to believe was what I would love if I just tried hard enough. But to no avail. And, on my way out, I vowed to never be that kind of parent.

It's a very common conversation in our household. My husband and kids know what my dreams were as a young adult and they know how much I don't want them to follow my very poor example. Perhaps it is because I want them to learn from my mistakes. Perhaps it's that I don't ever want to hold them back from doing something they really want to do because I think my way or life plan for them seems better. So I tell them to figure out what it is they want to do every day of the week and to cater their lifestyle to the money that will bring them, NOT the other way around. And I've made it very clear to them that if they don't know what it is they want to do or if they don't feel college is for them, I don't want them to waste my money because they think it is what they HAVE to do. I mean, who really and truly knows what they want to do at 18 years of age? 

Success in life is not defined by the money you make, but by the satisfaction you get when you are doing whatever it is you love to do. 

Because of that conversation several weeks ago, the very moment following the publishing of this post, I am writing a business proposal to sell the majority of my (largely-successful) at-home business to a friend and colleague in the industry. It's time. Time to listen to the words of my very-wise daughter. Time to focus on a different kind of success. Time to take my own advice. Time to move on to a much more personally-fulfilling destiny. 

What's keeping you from doing the same?

Go find success in doing what YOU love.