On Labor Day 2014, I was hit by a car at 35 mph, while biking home from yoga. Eyewitnesses said I was hit, flipped 3 times in the air, hit the car’s hood, then hit the asphalt. All I remember is the two hits. Bewildered paramedics said that according to physics, I probably ought to have died. Upon impact, the driver hit the gas and ran. I still don’t know who did it, and honestly I’ve never cared to know. I’m so grateful to him; it was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. If you’re meh about your career, this one is for you.
Before the accident, I had a different career. It involved a long commute, difficult boss, and spending much of the day flexing my weaknesses, not my strengths. Maybe you can relate. “There’s nothing wrong with not loving my career,” I told myself. “A lot of people feel this way.”
Correct, they do. But the first part is so wrong. I avoid “shoulding” on people, but I will do it now. You should LOVE your career.
Why You Should Love Your Career
Outside of human relationships, there are four ways to spend your time on this planet:
Elizabeth Gilbert, one of my role models, writes transcendently about these four areas and later I'll delve deeper into each. She’s been a huge influence and inspiration for my own thinking on this topic:
HOBBY — The most important thing about a hobby: there is nothing at stake. Sure, you can push yourself to mastery. I do that in dance class, trying to nail a piece of choreography and constantly improve. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether I excel. I don’t aspire to be paid to dance. Hobbies are fun. They broaden horizons, add richness to your understanding of the world, and joy to your week. You can pick one up and quit the next day. It’s fine, because it’s just a hobby. No. Stakes.
JOB — Everyone needs a job. A job is transactional: you do something and in return you get money. It’s the only must on the list. We live in a material world, as Madonna sagely pointed out. You have to feed yourself and pay for shelter, and all this requires money. If you are an adult human being, you need to have a job so that you are not a burden on others. Even if you’re all set financially with a trust fund or inheritance, I believe you still need a job to fight atrophy of the mind, body, and soul. You can love it, like it, or it can just be OK. If you hate it though, go find a different one, because it’s absurd to spend that much time on something you hate. You need to have a job.
CAREER — Very contrary to popular belief, you DO NOT need a career. It’s something you choose. A career usually starts out as a job. Due to your love/interest/talent/drive to pursue it deeply, you make a choice to invest a lot of time, energy, effort, attention, compromise and sacrifice into it. The success of your career in large part depends on what others think of you. Careers can be “ruined”. Think hard whether you want to sign up for this.
Hating your career is utterly depressing, because again, you don’t even have to have one. You can just get a job and spend your free time pursuing your hobbies and your vocation (more on that next week). Millennials are reported to be the most career-driven generation to date. We've forgotten that careers are not required. I think this is partly why some people I talk to are so unhappy. The same fearful thoughts keep looping: “This career isn’t right for me,” “I’m here for the wrong reasons,” and "But I have to do this." I hope you love your career. You sacrifice much time and realistically, some of your health to have one. You should love it.
VOCATION — This is the most important one, and gets its own post next Wednesday.
Why You're Here
After the accident, I had one of the greatest epiphanies of my life — you know, as ya do with near-death experiences. Heard the saying “Life is short”? It’s terribly false. Life, if lived fully present and good to last drop, can be luxuriously long. This is the actual, sobering truth: Your life can be taken away from you at any time. Let that really sink in.
MY LOVE, YOU ARE NOT HERE TO PAY YOUR BILLS, PARTY ON THE WEEKENDS, AND DIE.
You’re here to inhabit a space of creativity, to make a difference with your unique gifts. I’m here to help you plug in to your gifts and pull out the magnum opus that I know resides inside you. You know it too. You've seen glimpses of your full potential. That space of creativity? The happiest people spend as much time in that space as possible. And I have to say it, happy doesn’t begin to cover how I feel day-to-day. It’s more like a deep, pervasive, purposeful peace. It’s inside you somewhere too, and I can help you find it, without nearly getting killed.👋🏼
Reach out, please. I'm curious about your career trajectory. And if any part of this resonated with you, please Share. I really appreciate your help spreading the message.💖💬📣