So many things we do everyday are things we should do. Things that others tell us to do, like our bosses, our clients, our family, our friends. Sometimes it can feel like we never actually get to do what we want.
We’re waiting for permission, we feel obligated out of a sense of duty to others, or perhaps we’ve just been taught that only certain routes are acceptable for us.
I’ve always thought that if we have something we spend so much time on everyday like work, it makes sense for it to be something we choose. It truly takes up more time than anything else we do. More time than we spend having fun, more time than we spend with our families, more time than we spend with ourselves….time that we’ll never get back again.
I started working at my first job at age 13. After that period I went through 9 different jobs before I became self-employed at the age of 20. A few of these jobs were not fun at all (telemarketing) while others were more gratifying (putting together window displays at a department store).
I learned something very valuable about myself through all of it though: I quickly become dissatisfied when I feel like I’m wasting my time away. I was worried that this was a weakness in myself for awhile, but I’ve now come to understand that it’s more like a strong internal radar, ever guiding me to something that’s a better fit for me in that space and moment.
I’m not saying the only route to doing what you love is to work for yourself. A job can be just as meaningful for you if it fits your own values and goals in life. Self-employment is just a practical way because it gives you the space and freedom to choose what aligns with your values, what’s acceptable and not, and what turns you on.
I believe a lot of people, women in particular, don’t realize they have a choice.
They think no one will support them, they don’t have the time, it’s selfish, they can’t because they have to support someone else, or they just can’t for other practical reasons.
I believe that those are traps we set for ourselves when we feel that something is going to be challenging or difficult. The fact is, you can do just about anything you choose, given that you’ve outlined the constraints and it’s still possible. I’m not saying that there aren’t certain off-cases that are so unlikely that they aren’t practical. Like, if you’re very short and you want to be a supermodel. And I’m not saying you should eschew your personal responsibilities to others.
Make no mistake, doing what you chose often comes along with unique challenges.
Sometimes what you want to do doesn’t match what other people value, perhaps you won’t get the support from your friends and family that you hope for, you might not get approval, and maybe you’ll discover later that what you decided to do is not really what you love after all.
The point is: you choose. Only you can decide what’s worth spending the precious few moments of your time on earth. Will you look back in regret, wondering about all of the things you wanted to do, but didn’t?
Or, will you look back and say, “Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I failed. But, I chose what I wanted to do and no one else chose for me.”