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Job Search: Go For Your Dreams or Whatever Works For Now?

“That’s when I first learned that it wasn’t enough to just do your job, you had to have an interest in it, even a passion for it.” –Charles Bukowski

Hello friend,

I distinctly remember a conversation I had a few years ago with my cousin about his job. We were catching up after years apart, and I asked him to tell me about his work. He described it in very neutral terms, not at all glowing about it but not hating it either. It wasn’t anything he had gone to school for or aspired to, and it didn’t light him up inside. It was just a job. A solid one, though, that paid well enough and had benefits and flexibility and all of that good stuff for a guy with a young family. To sum it up he said, “It’s nothing I’m passionate about, but I don’t think anybody really gets to do their dream job.” I nodded and let the conversation drift to other topics, but as it did, I was quietly dejected and indignant at the same time.

I was sad both because I hated to see this guy I like and admire settle for something that he didn’t love, and because I hated to even entertain the idea that he might be right. I was indignant both because I was sure that he had to be wrong and because I was determined to never fall into a mindset that would let me settle for “whatever keeps the bills paid.”

For all of the emotions that short conversation stirred in my heart–and that I stayed quiet about–I have never been able to forget it. If you have read my book or have been reading these letters for a while, you probably know that I am very much about helping people to find their passion and their purpose and then to pursue those things relentlessly for all of the days of their lives. I think it is of the utmost importance that we immerse ourselves in the activities and the people that fill and expand our hearts and minds. That includes our jobs, where we spend such a large portion of our lives.

That is why that conversation got stuck in my heart. I hated that this deep, talented man was settling for less, but I hated even more that he might be right in asserting that hardly anyone is working in jobs that they love and feel called to do. I was determined that I would not only continue to nudge people to uncover and live their purpose but also that my own career path would align more and more closely with my own purpose as the years passed.

As I look at my present situation, I wonder, “How in the world could I have missed the mark this badly???”

I am in the midst of a job search. Actually, I have been in the midst of a search for a long time now. It started off more casually, as my wife still had a nice job with health insurance and such. But after she left all of that security behind in order to start her own business–and since her company hasn’t quite reached Fortune 500 status in its first several months–there is a sense of urgency about the search that increases by the week.

The thing that I have noticed lately, though–and that I am becoming increasingly alarmed about the more I allow it into my consciousness–is that as the urgency is growing, my standards seem to be shrinking proportionally.

When I started my search, I was idealistic and had at least a shred of confidence. I knew that my resumé was not the most attractive for the kind of job I wanted–basically I wanted to do things that were unlike my previous work experience–but I also believed in my abilities and figured I had enough crossover skills and adaptability that I could learn to do almost anything (e.g. a type of computer software) quickly. I could definitely land a job that, even if it wasn’t my dream job, at least let me use some of the skills that I enjoy using and make me feel like my talents are not being wasted. I just needed an interview and I would convince them I was their man!

Fast forward to the present to find me wallowing in the self-doubt that comes from being ignored by just about every company who seems to have an opening for a position that appeals to me. When I send the resumés out and hear nothing back, that silence eats at my confidence and makes me question my abilities and my career outlook. More and more lately, as I have been scouring the job sites, I have been horrified to notice my eyes wandering to positions I would not ever have considered before. I hear my brain justifying how “It wouldn’t be SO bad,” or “Maybe my back could get used to standing for that long,” and other such dispiriting arguments.

Clearly I am not the same person as the one who was offended by the thought of doing work that didn’t stir my soul but merely paid the bills and was convenient for my family!

But which guy was right: the Idealistic Me who believed I had to be passionate about my job, or the World-beaten Me who is ready to settle for anything that keeps things flowing at home, no matter how uninspiring? Or are they both right somehow, depending on life circumstances? Does my job have to be a perfect indicator of whether I am living authentically and following my passion, or can it just be a job?

When I coached tennis for many years, I loved that I got to share my love of the game with people, that I got to motivate and share life lessons, and that I got to share in the best part of my clients’ days. It was a good job for me. However, I came to realize that, while I loved it, it felt like a shadow career to me (see “Are You In A Shadow Career?”). That is, it looked like what I really wanted to do in a lot of ways, but it wasn’t it. I wanted to write books and give speeches and be a Life Coach. That was my ideal.

When I left coaching and took a job managing a store, I knew it had even fewer elements of my dream job. I, of course, found the parts that made it meaningful to me, but I knew it was not my passion. I did it because it worked well for my family’s needs at the time and allowed me to still give energy to my other passions. It was a compromise I entered into with a clear head, and I knew it was not permanent.

When I started my current job several months ago, it was basically the same deal. It was not related to my passion, but I hoped it would work out for my uncertain family situation (and again, that was a compromise I was willing to make).

Well, as I explained above, the family needs something different now. And now I see myself defining what “the right job for now” is and how vastly different that looks compared to “the right job for me” in my idealistic mind. It is amazing how necessity can twist a person’s standards! Because when I notice how I am thinking about this now, and then I compare that to how I would be thinking about it if my wife had the same salary and benefits as she did last year, the difference is shocking.

I find it interesting to follow the history of my mind on this topic. Regarding which jobs to go after, my level of idealism has taken a steep decline over the years, and I also have a much more complicated view of what “settling” means. As is almost always the case, the deeper I look into it and the more life experience I gain, the more I recognize the answers to be in the many shades of grey rather than so black-and-white. I now think life circumstances have a huge impact on this “Ideal vs. Right For Right Now” continuum. (And yes, I am also open to the idea that I may be conning myself by justifying my failure to live up to my career dreams by claiming that I just did what worked best for my family.)

Another thing that has shifted my perspective was a book by Elizabeth Gilbert (of “Eat Pray Love” fame) called “Big Magic.” I read it last Summer. It’s about continuing to do soul-stirring things throughout your life. In it, she talks about how she had three novels published by major publishers and was still having to work her day job full-time. After years of feeling like I somehow deserved to be making a living with my writing as long as I was working hard at it, Gilbert knocked me back into my place. She made it clear that creative types are not owed work in their art and shouldn’t feel entitled to a consistent income, but rather they should assume that they are just going to continue to have to make the time for their passion projects outside of their “regular job” hours. That was a tough pill for me to swallow, let me tell you. But, especially since it came when I was looking frustratingly hard for work and feeling a little bitter about the whole concept, I did swallow it. I have been more accepting of the idea of getting a “regular job” ever since (even if I still hate it).

In the end, I guess I don’t know what role my next job will play in my life. At the moment, it looks as though it will be this big thing that I will basically just tolerate for years and years. Ugh!! I hate that I even thought that sentence, much less wrote it down as truth. I can’t stand the idea of settling, especially when it is something that takes up so much of my limited time on this Earth. But maybe, as I have discovered over the last few years, settling for a job is not as bad in practice as it is in theory. Maybe, especially if I compartmentalize it well in my mind, it will make the rest of my life easier.

This would be an easier sell if I were not so naturally dreamy and idealistic. (Oh, and there’s also that thing about me never actually wanting a job. I suppose that plays a role in all of this.) I can tell that I will be vacillating on this subject for a long time to come. Welcome to Life: it’s kind of messy here! I will keep working through it, journaling and pondering and journaling some more. That may be the only job I am truly cut out to do!

How about you? Do you have 1) your ideal job, 2) the right job for right now, or 3) something entirely different? Open up your journal and flesh out the role your job plays in your life and how well that sits with you. Describe the things you do for a paycheck. Now think about the things in Life that move your soul, that lift you up, that excite your mind, that get you out of bed in the morning. Do any of the things on that “Bliss List” match up with the things on your Job List? On a scale of 1 to 10, how closely do the lists match up? Has it always been this way, or has your job history moved you at different times closer to and further from your purpose? Has your level of job satisfaction shifted accordingly? How about your level of overall Life Satisfaction? To what extent do you associate your job with your identity (i.e., you answer the “What are you?” inquiry with your occupation)? Are you happier when you do work that is meaningful to you? How important is a fulfilling job, anyway? Is “whatever pays the bills” sometimes the ideal job, even if it doesn’t at all resemble the job you dream about getting one day? Do you have to take a job that looks like your dream job–or at least feels like it will lead to your dream job–in order to be authentically living your purpose and passion? Do you have a clear idea of what “settling” looks like to you? Where are you now in relation to that? How does that answer sit with you? In five years from now–and ten, twenty, and at retirement–do you believe that you will be doing something closer to your dream job than you are today? For the creative and entrepreneurial among us, should we be content with doing a “regular job” to keep the bills paid and then squeezing in our art or our side hustle at night and on lunch breaks, or should that thought torture us until we are so determined to “succeed” in our passion that that we somehow make it into gainful employment? Is there anything wrong with working purely for the money if it lets the rest of your life (family, hobbies, stress levels, vacations) run smoothly? Overall, how tolerant are you of work that does not move you in any way that is not financial? Leave me a reply and let me know: What is the role of your job in your life?

Light your world,

William

 P.S. If this letter resonated with you today, please share it with your social media community. Let us live our authentic Truths together!

The Head vs. The Gut: Who Do You Trust?

“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” –J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Hello friend,

My wife officially announced this week that she is quitting her job in one month. This is the job that has kept us fed, sheltered, and health-insured for the last 15 years. Does she have another job lined up? She does not.

Meanwhile, I have yet to find that perfect opportunity I have been looking for to make my return to gainful, “real world” employment.

We have two kids, a mortgage, car payments, utilities, and all of the other bills and obligations that make up life in modern America.

Reason dictates that I should be freaking out right now. My stress level should be through the roof. I should have insomnia, high blood pressure, and panic attacks. I should be wetting myself in sheer terror at the great unknown before us. I should be fretting nonstop about the future. I should be pleading with my wife to stay in her safe, solid, insurance-covering job until we both have new ones lined up. I should be reminding her about all of those bills and painting vivid images of worst case scenarios: us homeless, penniless, and forever saddled with “pre-existing conditions”. I should be getting her to freak out with me. I really ought to be blowing my top.

I’m just not.

I wish I could say that the reason that I am not panicking is because I am the flaky, flighty artist type, never in touch with the reality of things like payment deadlines and lapsed coverage. I wish I could tell you I am not freaking because we have done so well at investing over the years that we really don’t need to work; we just do it for social reasons. I wish I could say that I am so elevated spiritually at this point that money does not matter to me.

Any of those reasons might provide me with a logical explanation of why I feel not only unstressed about our family’s financial future but also downright excited and utterly optimistic. Those explanations would give me a rational way to unpack this unbridled confidence I feel bubbling up from some unknown source deep inside of me, causing me to feel an almost uncontrollable eagerness to learn what is coming up next for us.

But those are not the explanations. Sure, I definitely have some flaky artist in me, but I can be as practical and responsible as my parents taught me to be when financial obligations are involved. And, sad to say, we were not one of the early investors in Apple or Microsoft, so that nest-egg explanation doesn’t suit the situation, either. Finally, as spiritually evolved as I like to think I am on my best days, there is no world that I have yet found in which money is not important.

No, if the answer to my serenity and confidence in the face of this potential catastrophe were a logical, rational thing, I would be there already, secure in my understanding.

But there is nothing logical about this.

A rational guy would be outwardly supportive of his wife when she tells him she is quitting her bread-winning job without securing a new one, but inside he would be having a coronary. A logical guy might say, “Well, I’ve been waiting for the perfect job description to fall into my lap for a long time without success, so I am just going to be practical and find whatever will put food on the table.” A rational guy would sense the urgency of the situation and figure out a solution immediately to avoid risking a financial disaster for his family.

Try as I might to summon my most rational, practical self, my system is not letting it in. The panic, the terror, the desperation: I am trying to conjure them, but they are just not coming. They should be here, though. It just makes sense. What gives???

It’s my gut. Call it what you will—instinct, intuition, sixth sense, the still small voice, a feeling—but mine is telling me that everything is going to work out fine. And not just fine, but amazingly well. My intuition tells me that we are on the verge of something even better than we have ever had. Something that keeps those bill collectors off our backs while filling our lives with meaning and inspiration. Yes, despite all evidence to the contrary, my gut assures me that good things are on the way.

So……..is that cool, then? Is that really an acceptable answer? Just trust my intuition and act accordingly. Really???

I know that sounds perfectly courageous and correct in the New Age-y, “Leap and the net will appear” kind of way that we are all supposed to arrive at when we become enlightened, but I have to admit that I have wondered more than once: What if my gut is fooling me?

Seriously, what if all this wonderfully calming news from my gut is really just Denial? What if the truth is that I am not tough enough to face the harsh reality of our situation, so my Subconscious or Unconscious mind has decided to disguise itself as my Intuition delivering this pacifying news?

And of course I am buying it! Because it feels good to believe that this is not the crisis a rational person would recognize it as. In fact, it’s the opposite of a crisis; it’s a fountain of good fortune for all involved. That is so much more pleasant to believe! Denial is slippery that way.

As much as I appreciate the sweetly narcotic effects of Denial, however, in the end, what I really want is the Truth.  

Is my intuition right: Are we really on the verge of our greatest thing yet? Or, is the rational bystander in my brain correct: Are we in dire straits and in need of desperate, immediate action?

Is there any way to know which is correct but to pick a course and commit to it, knowing only that the answer will be revealed later? If that is the case, I have to review the evidence. My intuition has been screaming at me every day lately after my brain has spelled out our impending doom in my journal. The instinct has been consistently firing back with feelings of hope, optimism, and belief, as well as an extra little tickle in my heart that gives me the impression that there will be something extra-special involved. I absolutely LOVE that feeling!

That’s it: I’m going with the gut. I trust it!

How about you? Are you more inclined to trust your brain or your intuition? Open up your journal and think back through your toughest decisions and most difficult periods. Which part of you did you trust to lead the way? Are you more inclined to trust your reason and careful analysis? If so, do you make Pros & Cons Lists? Do those lists ever make room for emotion or intuition? Do you think careful consideration and logic are the only way to determine the best course of action? Does it depend upon the type of situation (i.e. maybe the intellect is better for financial decisions but the intuition is better for relationships, or vice versa)? Does trusting your intuition over your rational view of your circumstances really just amount to a denial of reality? At what point is that unhealthy? How often does your head overrule your instinct? Is it possible to overthink it, though, and neglect what your gut is shouting out to you? How about the other way: ignoring reason and doing what your instinct nudges you to do? Is there any way to know ahead of time which part of yourself to trust, or do you have to wait and see how it plays out before you know if it was the right call? Which type of people do you gravitate toward, the analyzers or the intuiters (yes, it’s a new word)? If you had to give yourself a percentage rating (e.g. 70% Head/30% Gut), what would it be? How has that changed, if at all, through the course of your lifetime? Do you wish your rating were different? In which direction? Try to think of the most pressing issue in your life now or in the foreseeable future. Which part of yourself will you lean more upon? How well will you trust your decision? Leave me a reply and let me know: In the battle for your trust, do you go with the head or the gut?

Believe in your gifts,

William

P.S. If this resonated with you—whether intellectually or instinctually–please pass it on. Trust yourself!

Can You Be Present With Your Mind On The Future?

dsc_0457“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” —Mother Teresa

Hello friend,

I recently finished a book in the Motivational/Self-Help genre. I liked it. All along, the author talked about how great I was going to be and how that greatness was going to come about. I was going to keep my focus on my goals and not lose sight of what I knew in my heart that I would become. I was going to do everything in my power to make that future of my dreams happen. It was a good (and necessary) kick-in-the-pants kind of reminder to keep planning and taking action toward my biggest dreams.

So, the book had me totally looking forward to my best self living my best life and generally nailing my future. I was excited! Then, near the very end of the book, I got thrown for a loop. The author was into the major instructions portion, where she lays out the exact habits and attitudes required to take those crucial steps forward to the life of my dreams. I was chomping at the bit, ready to soak up the wisdom. And there it was….

Just stay in the moment. Be present.  

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Not that vexing answer! My brain began having flashbacks to this issue that I have, in all of my years and efforts to read and understand different spiritual and psychological perspectives, never quite been able to unravel the mystery of. That is, How can you keep your mind totally in the present—live a brand of “walking meditation” continually—but at the same time plan for the future and dream?  

I am a big believer in meditation and the growth that can come from simply quieting the mind and controlling the breath. And I am all in favor of stopping to smell the roses while they bloom. My kids have taught me the beauty of living in the moment.

But aren’t I supposed to be planning to improve myself and make positive change in my world? To grow, to challenge myself and others, to dream big, to plan for greatness, and to seek out the best course of action? My gut tells me that is the right thing to do. But isn’t that stuff, by definition, in the future? And isn’t the future, by definition, not the present? I am vexed!

How do I reconcile these two wonderful philosophies of life? I see the value in both, but I am just not sure they mesh as easily as the author of my recent book let on. In fact, she didn’t explain it at all. She just plopped this brilliant “stay in the moment” suggestion, which is a staple of human growth, smack in the middle of all of this talk of forward thinking, then kept right on going, expecting me not to notice the dissonance my brain started feeling immediately. Well, I noticed! And now, as Fate would have it, I really need an answer.

The owners of my day job just announced this week that we are going out of business. A few short weeks from now, I will no longer have a job. Yikes!

Amazingly, in the days since the announcement, I have not totally freaked out. I have not succumbed to the worry/fear/dread combo that I know are one of one of my options in this situation. I am pretty proud of myself for that, actually.

What has been my reaction? Basically, I have started a mad dash to get a book project and other writing stuff done as fast as possible, hoping to produce something for submission by the time I am out of work. Instead of getting bogged down by what has happened to my job or dealing directly with my shock and sadness over it, I am flinging myself headlong into the future.

But what about the present? 

That is the question that keeps haunting me. As I zip through my plans, hopes, dreams, and visualizations, I sometimes catch myself and give myself a little scolding for getting out of the present moment. That’s what the meditation and self-help books would say, right? “Just be in the moment. The precious present. There is nowhere else to be.”

But don’t they see I need a new career? In the near future! I have to plan, don’t I?

I think maybe I am trying to be too literal with the “Stay in the moment” instructions? I mean, I understand the general gist of the instruction. I have read enough books on the topic and can easily regurgitate quotes like “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift. That is why they call it ‘the present.’” The idea is not to dwell on the sorrows and regrets from your past, because you can’t do anything about the past anymore (I am pretty good with that side of it), and not to live in worry and fear for your future, because most of what we worry about is out of our hands (and often doesn’t happen anyway). Basically, regrets and fears are a waste of time and energy, and they distract you from the beauty that is right in front of you in this moment, which is the only one that exists.

So, stay present! Be here now. I get it.

I am, by nature, a rule follower. This is especially so when I agree with the rules. And I love this rule! I have reaped the benefits of it. As I said, I see the beauty of it in my children. I am a huge believer in presence and the magnificent gift that it is, both to ourselves and to the people around us. So, I try really hard to color inside the lines on this one.

This is exactly why I am so torn right now over my inclination to plan ahead for my future of joblessness. I want to follow the rule. I want to put my intentions out into the Universe and then just be present, trusting that the right thing will come my way. No worry, no fear.

Ahhhh. That is so calming even just writing the words. Present moment, wonderful moment. Om…….

But darn it, I am about to lose my job! I need income for my family! In the present moment, I have to think about my future and make plans for what comes next. I need to think about who I want to be and what I want my life to look like, specifically how my next job will mesh with my vision. My present has to be about my future! Is there a loophole for that? {That reminds me of my kids’ movie “Inside Out,” when the Sadness character glumly says about Joy’s plan, “You’ll get lost in there.” Joy responds, “C’Mon! Think positive!” Sadness, totally authentically, replies, “Okay…. I’m positive you’ll get lost in there.” The loophole!}

Seriously, in all of my years of studying personal growth, this is the one bee still in my bonnet. How do you reconcile these two animals: 1) remaining in the precious present, and 2) striving for new, better, and more in the future? I want both!

As I am writing this, I am beginning to see that maybe what my tension around this issue is, more than anything else, is that I want permission to have both. I want some expert to tell me it’s okay, that I have, indeed, discovered the loophole. I want the guru to say, “Sure, as long as your time and energy spent focusing on the future involve planning and striving for positive things rather than worrying and fearing about what will come, go for it!” Yes, I think that is it (see what journaling can do!). I guess I just need to get over my need for permission, trust my instincts, and go out and stake my claim on the future. (And then maybe meditate for balance!)

How about you? Which tense do you live in: past, present, or future? Open up your journal and take a journey in your mind. Where do you find yourself? How much time do you spend in your past? Are your thoughts of the past positive ones—which, I suppose, is the corresponding loophole for that tense—or are they full of regret and shame? Are even happy memories just crutches we should mostly let go of in favor of the present? How about the future? How much time do you spend looking forward? Is it more about dreaming, planning, or fearing? Are you a worrier? What is there to gain from worrying? After your thoughts of past and future, how much time is left for the present moment? How good are you about staying focused on the now? Do you have any practices or tricks—meditation, yoga, deep breathing—that help you to be more present? What works best? How aware are you of the workings of your mind and which tense you are in? Are you like me and get annoyed at yourself when you recognize your thoughts have wandered too far off, especially into fears of the future or regrets from the past? Am I crazy to need a loophole in the “rule” about presence to give myself permission to plan ahead or dream of what I wish to become? What is the right balance of tenses? What works best for you? Leave me a reply and let me know: Is there such a thing as dreaming while being present?  

You are bigger than you imagine,

William

P.S. If today’s letter helped you understand your mind better, please share it. We are complex characters who could all use a little help. Blessed be.

Free Time: Imagine the Possibilities!

DSC_0042“If you’ve got the money, honey, I’ve got the time.” –Willie Nelson

Hello friend,

A week ago, I came up with a wonderful new idea to write a book about. I was so excited! Immediately I started brainstorming and working on an outline. Next I had to do some hard bargaining with myself as to whether I am willing to temporarily suspend the other project I am working hard on now, a project that means so much to me. But this new idea is time-sensitive and must be addressed now. As I started to buy into the new project more and more and got to the point of committing to write the book, it suddenly struck me: How am I every going to find the time to do this?

 Sneaking in a few tired minutes of writing at the end of a full day of work and kids is not the way to take a deep dive into a topic, not to mention finding the artistic inspiration to make it all come out right (trust me, I’ve tried it many times!). I need several hours in a row of focused work for days and days on end. Hmmm. Those hours don’t seem to exist in my upcoming calendar of events. If I want to sleep at all, I simply don’t have the time.

This is when my escapist fantasies begin. These daydreams typically come in bunches over several days—usually a few different times per year–when I get really excited to take on a new project and then am hit with the reality of my schedule. Usually these fantasies take the form of me winning the lottery and never having a care about money again. That, of course, means I would never have to hold a job ever again. That, for me, would be absolute BLISS.

I always thought this extreme anti-job thing I had was that I simply didn’t like working. I mean, hey, who likes working, right? I just thought I had an extreme case of it. I have marveled about this many times in my journal, wondering how I got so spoiled. Lately, though, I have realized something about myself. I realized that, more than anything else, I just don’t like to work for someone else. I don’t like my work polluted by other people’s agendas, and I don’t like to be told what to do and when (and certainly not how). Simply put, I have never, EVER wanted to hold a job. That is, until the day I realized I just wanted to be my own boss.

I want to work—I’m dying to work—on my own projects on my terms. I want to choose the things I take on and how the work is performed. For those conditions, I am willing to work hard every day until my life ends. I don’t need retirement because I love what I choose to do.

So, it turns out I am not as lazy as I thought. Spoiled maybe, but not lazy. What a relief!

But that still doesn’t solve my problem. I work my current job because it brings in just enough money—combining with my wife’s income–to keep my household running and allows me to be here for my kids whenever they are here. It is a busy lifestyle, but our arrangement manages to just keep the bills paid and all of us happy and grateful for the time together.

But still pent-up and wishing for more.

More time and more money would be ideal, of course. That is where my usual fantasies of winning the lottery come in. But this week, as my soul was stirred up into a frenzy by this new book idea and my eagerness to dive into the writing of it, I realized something different about the tone of my fantasy hypotheticals.

The pleas suddenly became much less greedy, much more sensible. Instead of “If only I had 500 million dollars, I could really do what I want!” my visions have been more like, “If only I could keep my simple, paltry income but not have to put in the time to do the job and commute, I could do enough of what I want to keep me fulfilled.”

Maybe I thought that if my request wasn’t so gigantic, the wish-granters—there is a local branch of the Wizard of Oz in every town, right?—might somehow find a way for me. I am not asking to be rid of my usual financial balancing act and the tension that comes whenever I spend money. I will happily carry those burdens if only I am granted the TIME.

Yes, TIME is what I am really after. I just want those hours that I spend from the moment I leave for work to the moment I arrive back at home. If I could have those hours, along with my current income, I would not ask the wish-granters for any more wishes (I say now).

What would I do with the hours? WORK! My work. I would spend every one of them writing. In the short-term, I would write the book whose idea is burning in me right now. In the long-term, I have many other things I want to write, too, including more of these weekly letters to you. Believe me, I could keep myself occupied with the many ideas that inspire me to help make the world a better place.

I feel like the painter who has the perfect painting in mind and his paints and brushes ready to go, but he is waiting for his canvas to arrive. Waiting impatiently.

Every artist needs a patron. I started saying that when I was a young actor, having first realized how much energy it takes to create and perform one’s art consistently well. I experienced how that energy and inspiration can get muted in the drudgery of making a living doing something that is not your passion for most of the day simply to get a small window of time to pursue that passion. I am convinced that most of the world’s great art has gone unproduced due to the world’s artists lacking the requisite time and energy to create. Because I dare flatter myself by calling what I do a type of “Art,” I feel this pain. I ache for that time and energy. And thus my fantasies.

Those obligation-free hours are so alluring to my imagination. Of course, there are a million ways to use them. I know it would be wonderful to use the time to read all of the books I have on my list and take up all the hobbies I have ever aspired to. I can see myself easily passing the day between guitar practice, yoga, and some Hemingway in my hammock. It is a vision that warms my heart.

It wouldn’t last, though. What drives me is the writing. Trying to string together words that will make a difference in people’s lives. I can’t make it very long without returning to that.

So yeah, at the end of the day, if you let me keep my current income but allowed me to quit working, what would I do? I would work! (MY way.)

How about you? What would you do if you were guaranteed your income without the time commitment? Open up your journal and imagine this amazing opportunity. How would you use it? Maybe this essentially becomes a question of what you prioritize at this point in your life, not just what you like to do. Is there something that you highly value but that you have not had time to devote to with your current schedule? Is it something that you can see yourself making a habit of and keeping in your life long-term? Would you use the time to cultivate a hobby or rather something that would become a new career for you? How widely would you spread your wings? How much would you simply kick back and take life easier than you have been? Would you intentionally have no agenda at all for a while? How long do you think you could go without any job before you became either bored or stir crazy? Is this even a deal that you would take? Perhaps you would prefer to keep doing your current job, whether for social reasons or connections and opportunities to keep climbing the career ladder in your field and building a bigger income than you have now? Whatever your choice, I hope that the things you prioritize—the things you might fill your newfound window of time with—are things that will leave you feeling fulfilled. I would love to hear what you choose. Leave me a reply and let me know: How would you fill the time that is truly free?

Think big,

William

P.S. If this letter had you re-thinking about what you really prioritize at this point in your life, pass it on. A little clarity could do us all some good!

Sleepwalking Through Life, or Sucking the Marrow Out of It: What Will You Regret?

DSC_0148“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.–Henry David Thoreau

Hello friend,

Isn’t it amazing how differently we see the other ages of our life when we get some years away from them? I think it is safe to say that we all look back at our high school years—the continuous flow of earth-shaking drama weaving its way through every day and every interaction—and think of how silly and insignificant it all was in the grand scheme of things. Most of us—myself definitely included—look at our old girlfriends and boyfriends and laugh at how wrong we were for each other, even though it seemed so right at the time. The years of separation provide fascinating insights (and hopefully some good laughs to go with the invaluable lessons).

I find myself now at a unique junction in the story of my life. The different chapters from past and future are converging in my mind. It is a perfect storm. For one, in The Journal Project, I am studying my daily journals from 1997, which was a truly revolutionary and magical time in my mind and, thus, my life. My foundation of deep and lasting happiness was being built in those days, and reading back through them is again making a deep impact on my current perspective.   The bar was set high.

The second thing brewing is that I am at a crossroads with the different jobs that make up the “career” portion of my little world. Even though it has been a year since I left my original career as a tennis coach, the job I transitioned to has been something of a holding pattern, meant not to fulfill my biggest career aspirations but instead to fulfill my parenting aspiration to give my kids the most of my time and energy. It has worked wonderfully for that, and I am so glad I made the move when I did. However, it is coming to the end of its run, forcing me to take a long look at what I have done and what I could do in the future. I am in one of those moments that will shape the long course of my existence. I want to do it right. I don’t want any regrets.

Needless to say, I have a lot swirling around in my mind these days. I think back to a time almost fourteen years ago when I had to make—and make quickly—a career move. I had just quit graduate school–deciding that it wasn’t the life for me–and needed to figure out what was next. I needed not just a job but something that might be a career. In brainstorming the options, I allowed myself a momentary fantasy of working as a writer, sharing my message with the world and making the kind of difference I hoped I was capable of. Fear and uncertainty squashed that fantasy in a hurry. I knew nothing about how to get into it, and I didn’t believe enough in my talent to bet my future on it. Instead, I turned to my first love and something I had always enjoyed (even though I had never considered it as a possible career): teaching tennis.

I loved it. I had always felt completely in my element when teaching others, and getting to be involved in the best part of someone’s day while sharing my love of the game was immensely gratifying. It was work I could see myself doing for a long time. And I did.

About eleven years down the road, though, my mind began to change. My love for tennis and teaching didn’t diminish, and I was still deeply happy in my life (which, by then, included a wife and two kids). But something that had been dormant was awakening inside me. A giant was stirring. Questions began arising: What is your Bliss? Are you giving your Gift? Are you doing the work you feel called to do? What would you do if money was not an issue? What would you do if you weren’t scared? What is your soul telling you? Soon these questions were all that I could hear? The sleeping giant had awoken. I had to face him.

I started by admitting that even though I enjoyed and appreciated my work as a coach, it wasn’t my true calling. It was a shadow career, something that fills many of the requirements of a calling but is not it. I also had to come to grips with the fact that happiness was not enough for me. I figured happiness was an achievement of the mind and that I was blessed with the ability to be happy in any circumstance. I wanted not just happiness; I wanted fulfillment, too.

I vowed then to listen to my heart. If something made my heart sing, I would follow it. I began The Journal Project with no idea where it would lead me. I just knew I loved it and that it resonated deep down in that place where the giant had been sleeping. And as I read through the daily entries from all of the years of my adulthood, I saw all of these signs that told me—sometimes in the plainest English—that writing and sharing my message was my dream job. I wanted to help people to grow and be their best, happiest selves. I was doing a version of that in my coaching career, but not as fully and directly as I envisioned it when the writing aspect was added to it.

The ship has been slow to turn. It turns out that rediscovering my Bliss did not necessarily make it much easier to follow. I still had two little kids and a job to put food on the table. Time was short, and though I worked hard at it, progress was slow. In trying to keep with my plan of changing lives in a bigger way, I started Life Coach training, which was right up my alley. Then I added the skin care business, hoping this would eventually lead me to more time and financial freedom to pursue my writing. All of this was happening while I transitioned out of tennis and into my current job around my kids’ schedule.   Hence, the slow-turning ship.

And now I arrive at this perfect storm of circumstances: lots of reflection about my past combining with my current job nearing its end. There are large decisions to be made, and uncertainty about the future is rampant. My biggest takeaway from all of this journal-reading is that when I had that moment fourteen years ago to make a career move and chose the more certain route—totally bowing to the fear and self-doubt around my writing prospects—I went into what I can now see was a long period of sleepwalking. Happy sleepwalking, but still sleepwalking. Only when I started questioning myself and the giant awoke did I start to listen to my soul and return to my passion. With The Journal Project and Journal of You, I am getting to the juicy, fulfilling stuff. I hear my friend Thoreau clearly: “It is life near the bone where it is sweetest.

So, can I really do it? Could I achieve the magic double of making a real paycheck AND fulfilling my deepest passions simultaneously? If I let go of my other business ventures and gave all of the available time and energy to the writing, I am quite sure of the fulfillment part. The uncertainty is in the paycheck part. Do I dare bet on myself if my family’s financial stability is the cost? If I don’t bet on myself by doggedly pursuing my purpose, can I live with the alternative? And, perhaps equally important, if I cannot afford to go all-in on the dream, can I keep enough of it alive that I don’t spend the next dozen years sleepwalking? I don’t think I could bear the regret if I re-awoke to this same feeling at age 55. I must get to the marrow!

How about you? How awake are you as you pass through your life? Open up your journal and explore your relationship with your Bliss. What is your Bliss? What lights up your heart and makes your soul sing? What role does your Bliss play in your everyday life? Are you doing it all day in your job or just squeezing it into your spare time as a hobby? It is in there somewhere, right? Whatever your current level of engagement with your dreams and your purpose, how can you make it greater? What kinds of things can you do to make sure it is included in your regular schedule? Is it enough for you to follow your Bliss as a hobby—e.g. writing a blog or volunteering with children on the weekends—or do you feel it is essential that you incorporate that calling into your primary pursuit or career? How big of a leap would it take to turn your passion into your profession? Which is bigger: the psychological risk, or the financial risk? Is simply “being happy” enough for you as a goal for life? And finally, how aware of your dreams and your calling are you on a daily basis? As you can tell, this occupies a lot of space in my thoughts—at least it has for the past few years since I woke up—but I don’t know how it is for everyone else. So leave me a reply and let me know: How conscious are you of your passion and purpose, and how well are you living it?

 This life is your big chance,

William

P.S. If this speaks to you, perhaps it would speak to your loved ones. Share freely.

What Would It Take To Get You To Move?

DSC_0390“I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question.” –Harun Yahya

Hello friend,

My wife came home from work a couple of days ago looking like she was deep in thought. I said hello, and she said—to me, but also seemingly to herself—“What would it take to get you to move away from here?” I could tell she had been pondering this all the way home on her long commute and was struggling for an answer. Silence ensued as I tried to think of some decent responses. The only two that jumped to mind immediately were the lottery and the super-duper dream job. As I was searching for something more reasonable, she said, “I just happened to hear about an opening for a job like mine, and it got me thinking about why people really leave one place for another and how often they regret it.” She mentioned some friends who had left for a few years and then came back, not aware at the time how much they would miss it and how the grass is not always greener on the other side. My mind was definitely churning for answers by that point, as she had hit a sensitive spot with me.

Her question made me think of my interview I did with my Mom last week in anticipation of her 70th birthday. We were doing a life review and talking about lessons she learned, things she was proud of, and things she would regret. In the middle of it, she casually mentioned—in a way that suggested that I have always known this—that she never really liked the town that she has lived in for the last 40 years (my hometown). My jaw dropped. HUH???? I was blown away. I never knew! In her casualness about it, she added, “But I can’t think of any other place I’d want to be, either.” She rattled off a few of the contenders in the area but none were appealing enough to make a change. Much like my wife’s question this week, I was really left wondering about my choice of town, the one that my kids will always know as their hometown. Just how great is this place? But, more specifically, how tied am I to it? How likely am I to leave in the next 20 or 30 years? What would it take to make me go? Hmmmm…..

When I was young, I moved all the time. I thought nothing of it. Between my 21st and 22nd birthdays, I lived—my definition of “living somewhere” is that I bought mustard at the grocery store there, a sign that I was somewhat settled in and not at a hotel—in five different cities: Grand Forks, ND; Minneapolis; Chicago; Washington, DC; and New York City. Shortly after that, I finally settled in Los Angeles and thought I was done.   A few years later, it turned out I was not done. Cities were then like jobs have always been for me: as soon as my heart wasn’t in it anymore, I had to move on. I moved a couple other times before finally settling here, where I have been—albeit in a few different houses—for the last 13 years. When we bought our current house almost five years ago, we thought of it as our forever house. And, despite the fact that my wife was looking on a real estate website today—old habits die hard–I think we both believe we are here for the long haul.

Or are we? Her question this week—and my Mom’s revelation last week—have me wondering why we are here and just what it would take to get me to leave.

I have never loved it here. I haven’t hated it, either. I just haven’t loved it. There is nothing particular about it that especially appeals to me, nothing that demands to be called Home. I live in a pleasant suburb of a fairly large city that has lots to do. However, I just don’t value the size, and I don’t take advantage of all the cool things about big city life. I can’t stand traffic; it seems like a waste of time to me. And Winter is very long here. It is gorgeous in the Summer—by far my favorite time of the year–but there is so little of it and so much nasty Winter.

In theory, I prefer to be in a relatively small town. I would like to know and trust more of the people around me, the way it seemed my parents did when I was a kid in my hometown of around 35,000 people. I would also, in theory at least, prefer to live either in the mountains or on the ocean, and somewhere with mild to warm temperatures most of the year. So, a smallish city on the beach or in the mountains with lots of active, outdoor options and open spaces. None of those qualities are even remotely close to my current situation! What the heck have I done?

The options certainly change when you get other people involved in the decision. Suffice it to say that I would probably not be living here right now if it weren’t for my wife and kids. And I DEFINITELY would not be living here right now if it were not for our extended families. They have shaped everything.

Living in a city this size is one of my wife’s ideals. Part of that is something we both desire, which is racial and ethnic diversity. We are a multi-racial family, and it is important to us to at least be in the same town as people whose ancestors do not all hail from Northern Europe. In most cases, with size comes diversity. So, here we are in the city! The reason it is this city, though, instead of one in a warmer climate or on an ocean—or even a more diverse one—is the reason that seems to trump all of the others: FAMILY. The proximity to both sides of our family and the ability to see them all frequently is the reason we came here, and it is the reason we have stayed. It means so, so much to me to be within a day’s drive of my parents and siblings, including both my childhood home and the lake cabin/family gathering place. I love that my kids’ favorite times of the year are when they gather with their cousins, and I so appreciate how well they know their grandparents. We just couldn’t pull off this combination anywhere else.

So, what would it take to get me to leave? Any old job opportunity wouldn’t do. It would have to be an absolute dream job—like writing or public speaking on topics of my choice—that also came with an obscene amount of money and time freedom to allow us to come back this way frequently to visit our families. Or, if my wife got a job that paid so well that I could work only on my passions at home and, again, we could easily and frequently visit family. Or, yes, the lottery would still be nice, I admit! All of the possibilities seem to involve 1) a dream job opportunity, 2) lots of money, and 3) the necessity of easy access to family. Short of that, I think I am a lifer. For better or for worse!

How about you? How tied are you to the place where you live? Open up your journal and share what it means to you to live where you do. What brought you there in the first place? How much choice did you have in the matter? What were the things that appealed to you when you first arrived? How have those things changed, and do you still value them the same way? What are the things about your home that you see as positives now that you didn’t think about when you first moved there? How much does proximity to family play a part in your choice of location? Is just knowing they are around enough, or do you really make the effort to see them often? If you took family out of the equation, what kinds of qualities matter most to you when you consider your ideal hometown? What kind of climate would you prefer? How about the landscape? Population? Diversity? Proximity to “culture”? Which of these carries the most weight? How long do you think you will live where you do now? Forever? Can you name one place in the world right now that you would definitely move to, even if it involved a very similar lifestyle to the one you lead now? What is it about that place? Why haven’t you gone there already? Leave me a reply and let me know, “What would it take to get you to move?”

Dream big,

William

What’s Your Elevator Speech?

DSC_0600“Every job from the heart is, ultimately, of equal value. The nurse injects the syringe; the writer slides the pen; the farmer plows the dirt; the comedian draws the laughter. Monetary income is the perfect deceiver of a man’s true worth.” –Criss Jami 

Hello friend,

Teacher. Waiter. Tennis coach. Maid. Actor. Retail manager. Personal trainer. Construction worker. Courier. Painter. Secretary. What does this seemingly random list of professions have in common? These have all been, at one time or another, my answer to the age-old question that defines social gatherings in our society: “What do you do?”

Now look at that list again. If you and I had just met, made it past the names, and arrived at the inevitable “What do you do?” question, which of my answers would have interested you enough to start a real discussion or made you consider either employing or referring me in the future? Let me answer for you: “Very few!” Maybe the actor made you at least curious enough to ask, “Have I seen you in anything?” Maybe if you were really into tennis or fitness or desperately needed your house painted, you might have asked a follow-up question about my services. Otherwise, my answer was probably a conversation dead-end and an encounter you quickly forgot. The next time you needed a courier, a maid, or a secretary, you did a Google search—or Yellow Pages back in the day I was doing some of those jobs—and found someone, because our conversation certainly didn’t hold me in your mind.

But what if, when you asked, “What do you do?” I had said, “Have you ever invited a special someone over to your place for the first time—or agreed to host a party for your job–and desperately wanted to hide the fact that you haven’t dusted since, well, EVER, and that you aren’t even sure you know how to use the vacuum cleaner? Well, I work with people like you to take care of all their cleaning needs so that they can be free to focus on the more enjoyable things in life, like getting dolled-up for that date or making hors d’oeuvres for that party. That way, they can be at their best when it matters most.” How would that grab you? You just might ask to get my business card, because you either A) are that messy person who wants to impress, or B) know someone who is. In either case, I have your attention and will probably come to your mind the next time you need a maid. Behold, the power of the Elevator Speech!

An Elevator Speech gets its name from the idea that if you got on an elevator several flights up and someone asked you the classic “What do you do?” you could, in the thirty seconds or less it would take for you to arrive at the lobby, interest them enough with your answer that the person would ask for your business card. It is a marketing spiel, of course, but its purpose is not to sell something immediately but rather to begin a relationship.

The relationship you are trying to open is not necessarily with everyone but with your target audience. When I was the maid, if I had given you that speech in a crowded elevator and you were compulsively neat, it would have had no effect on you. But, that handful of slobs sharing the elevator with you should have been completely captivated by my speech to the point that they pulled me aside as we got off in order to get my card. If your Elevator Speech is truly tailored to your desired audience, that audience should automatically gravitate toward you when you give it, eager to learn more.

So, what makes a good Elevator Speech? I think it starts with authenticity (as just about anything good does, right?). It has to come from your heart and not feel canned. It should sound conversational. Metaphors and examples are great, as humans tend to think best in vivid images and stories. Clearly conveying the benefits you can provide for your audience is crucial; that is, not just telling people what you do, but, more importantly, how it makes their lives better. If people think you are authentic and they can clearly visualize how your product or service can benefit them, they are going to want to find out more about you. If you get that far, you have a good Elevator Speech.

Being new to this whole concept and to marketing in general, I asked my wife if she has some version of an Elevator Speech ready for when someone asks her what she does. She runs a multicultural center at a college, so I thought that such a spiel might be the farthest thing from her mind. Much to my amazement and delight, she immediately (and so casually) replied, “I create opportunities for people to have authentic dialogue with each other about difficult issues in order to learn more about their own and others’ perspectives.  Ultimately, the goal of my work is to facilitate dialogue and create spaces that allow people to build effective relationships across difference and develop a mutual understanding of each others’ experiences.” WHOA!!! This woman is good! She is very, very good. (Writer’s Note: It is really cool to still be impressed by your spouse after a million years together.)

So, what about me? I have only been learning about this stuff in the past week as part of my Life Coach training program. By nature, I have approximately ZERO INTEREST in sales or marketing. None. I guess I have always taken the mindset of, “If I deliver a good product, word will get out, and people will come.” That has been my version of marketing. It is no wonder I am not a salesman! However, my teacher has been hitting me over the head with the idea that, no matter how great of a Life Coach I am, if I am not willing to put myself out there and talk to people about the benefits of working with me, I am going to be a broke Life Coach. So, it is time to start talking!

This is what I have come up with so far:

“Do you know those people who are really driven to reach their full potential? Well, they often become frustrated—even stressed-out—about how to best use their time and their talents. I work with those people to CLARIFY WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO THEM, and to eliminate the distractions that drain their energy. What’s so great about that is that they can then direct all of their efforts into FOLLOWING THEIR PASSIONS and LIVING THEIR PURPOSE.” 

What do you think? Did that peak your interest at all? Maybe make you want my business card to learn more about what I could do for you? If it did, awesome! If not, either the speech needs a lot of work—which is definitely true—or you are not part of my target audience. I actually kind of like it, though, at least as a start. Well, maybe it is not so much the speech that I like but, rather, I like that I get to do those things it talks about. It is good to appreciate your job, to feel as though you are adding value to the world. I am right there with this new gig. Now I just need to tell people about it!

How about you? What do you say when someone asks what you do? Take out your journal and write about your work. Do you usually respond with a couple of words, such as “I’m a nurse,” “I’m in sales,” or “I work at a grocery store”? How often do people ask you for your business card or for more information based on what you tell them? Do you like your job? Do you think if you liked it more, you would be more eager to use an Elevator Speech to describe it? Does it even interest you to find out what people do for a living? I tend to be a bit repulsed by the question—similar to talking about the weather—because I think most people ask it simply as a reflex. I would rather know what someone’s hobbies or passions are. But maybe if people gave more Elevator Speeches, I would like the “What do you do?” question. Have you ever used an Elevator Speech? Did it work? Did it surprise the person who asked you? I think I would be shocked to hear one, just as I was when my wife dropped hers on me. If you could come up with one now, how would it go? Leave me a reply and let me know: What’s your Elevator Speech?

Self-knowledge is a wonderful thing,

William

Is Your Job Working You?

IMG_1015Hello friend,

Picture yourself on your deathbed. Your mind spins like a broken record, replaying your life over and over in hopes of coming to some peace. Peace with what you have done and left undone. Peace with your accomplishments and your failures, your great loves and great loves lost. But mostly, you are trying to make peace with how you passed your time here on Earth, how you spent your dash. Regret enters the conversation. “I wish I had done that.” “I am so sorry that I did the other thing.” Woulda shoulda coulda. These are tough thoughts, heavy loads to bear as you cross over to the other side. So, here is my question: At the end of the road, are you going to say, “I wish I spent more time at work”?

Naahhh! Me neither. Not many people, I am guessing, would fess up to that regret. It is not that I discount that as a possibility, especially for those who are truly following their Bliss–their calling–and have turned it into a career. I love writing these posts to you. If I was earning a living wage for it, I could definitely see spending a little “too much” time delivering one to you on a daily basis. Mostly, though, I think that, like most of you, wishing I had worked more hours won’t be among my biggest deathbed regrets.

But how about the reverse? Have I spent too many hours at work? Have I missed out on the things that I would tell you are important: my kids, my wife, my family of origin, taking care of my health, pursuing my passions, learning? Has my schedule reflected my priorities?

As with many other areas of my life, I have taken a unique, winding path in my relationship with my work schedule. After spending most of my 20’s trying to work as little as possible so that I could spend my hours on self-improvement, my early 30’s found me living the life of a workaholic. I was on both the teaching and the management sides of tennis, and that meant a grueling schedule of more than 40 hours per week pounding my body on a tennis court and then another 20-30 hours in the office stressing over budgets, staffing, programming and the like. I was burning the candle at both ends, to be sure, only seeing the light of day on the weekends (some weekends). Every night found me completely exhausted.

In my work on The Journal Project, I have been able to revisit those years via my daily journal entries. Let me tell you, those are the most boring, repetitive entries of my entire adult life! They are like a broken record that goes something like this: “I am so tired. My body hurts so badly. This is no way to live. I wouldn’t recommend this to anybody. I am happy and grateful. Life is beautiful.” Yes, thank goodness that my spiritual and psychological foundation—my base of deep happiness and gratitude—had been laid prior to those years, because I never would have made it through without that foundation. It is true that I believed in my cause—I loved being in tennis and was heavily invested in making my club a wonderful place to work and play—and that certainly helped me to sustain my energies while there. But it was all there. I didn’t have much energy left to offer anything outside the building. All of those other things I would have said were high priorities—wife, family, passions, health—were left to pick at the crumbs of energy I had left when I limped in the house under cover of night. Between the stress and the physical beating and the endless hours, my work certainly exacted a heavy toll on me in exchange for a paycheck. In effect, it consumed me. (Here might be a good place to add that my wife is a saint.)  I knew what was happening, too, but I just couldn’t seem to do anything about it.

But then, something magical happened. My daughter was born. The sweetest, most beautiful angel ever in the world was alive and coming to stay in my house, where I could scarcely find time to be. That seemed just plain wrong to me. My priorities suddenly came sharply into focus. But more than that, the need to match my schedule to my priorities became urgent. So I did. I quit the management side of my job and cut my teaching schedule down to four days, with no nights or weekends. The paycheck and status took a huge hit, but finally my schedule was in alignment with my priorities.

Those quality days with my daughter—and eventually my son, too—were worth more to me than any paycheck ever was. If you could ever climb inside my heart on a “Three Amigos Day”—one of our weekdays with just the kids and I—or “Family Fun Day” (all of us together on a weekend), you would understand completely the meaning of the word “priceless”. We have been carrying on like this for 5 ½ years now, with me spending less time at work and more time with the ones I love and having the energy to be fully present when I am with them. So, there I was at the bus stop this morning to give my daughter a hug good-bye before school, and there I was at the end of the day to see her jump off the bus and run smiling toward me for another giant hug—an untradeable moment—and a trip on our bikes to the park. And tomorrow, on that weekday away from my job I have clung to all these years, I get to go along on the kindergarten fieldtrip to the museum and the zoo. These days of my being my kid’s best friend don’t last forever, right? I think I’ll soak them up while they are still here.

As you can see, my relationship with my working hours has been one of extremes. I have known dipping my feet in the water, wading comfortably at waist-deep, and full-fledged drowning in my work. I have known myself to be happy in the midst of all three, but actual satisfaction came only when I was finally able to make my schedule reflect my priorities. Who can say how my path will meander in the coming years as circumstances change, but I hope that when I am in full life-review mode while lying on my deathbed, I will have no regrets when it comes to the time I spent at work.

How about you? How are you doing with your work schedule? Open up your journal and tell yourself about it. Are you spending too much time at your job? Are you missing out on important aspects of your life because of your work schedule? Do you ever wish you worked more? Is your job your true calling or just something you do? When it is all over, are you going to regret the way you spent your time? And most importantly, how closely do you think your schedule reflects your priorities? If it does not, what small step can you take today to change that? Leave me a reply and let me know: Is your job working you?

Live a self-approved life,

William