Do you love the work you do? Does it bring you joy? Or, do you live for the weekends, and wish you could be doing something else for those 40 hours each week?
Last week, I attended my oldest son’s music ensemble performance. I sat next a couple I had never met, whose daughter was in the ensemble with my son. The wife and I struck up a conversation about our children and the school, and at some point I asked her whether she worked or stayed at home (not to say that SAHMs don’t work; I am one, and I know it’s a LOT of work). I never expected to be as inspired as I was by her response.
She said that she worked in real estate, and that she loved it, to which I nodded with interest. I gathered from an earlier segment of our discussion that she and her husband- parents of an 8th grader- were approaching 60 years of age (and totally didn’t look it!), and her husband was planning to retire later in the year. She shared that she had spent the past 30 years in a computer-related field before finally making the switch to her dream job as a real estate agent.
“It has always been my dream to sell homes. I’ve wanted to be a real estate agent since I was 16,” she admitted.
I told her how much I loved that she finally pursued her dream after all of those years, and she continued to inspire me with more of her story.
She had decided to study computers after high school, and it was while she was in technical school that she met her husband. They married and grew successful in their respective careers. They bought their first home, followed by a bigger home, as they chased the “American dream.” Eventually, they had everything they could want, with money to spare, but it wasn’t bringing them any more joy. Finally, she had had enough. She decided to quit her job. Her husband encouraged her to do so, AND he persuaded her to pursue her passion for real estate.
In disbelief and excitement, she plunged right in. It was really hard in the beginning, she said. The hours of study and difficult exams involved in becoming a licensed real estate agent were some of the most challenging work she’s done. But now, after three years as an agent?
“I never used to understand when people would say that they loved their job so much it didn’t feel like work, but I do now. I look forward to going to work every day- it doesn’t even feel like work at all. It’s something I love to do,” she shared.
In addition to pursuing her dream, she and her husband also downsized the “American dream,” moving into a modest house in the town they love. “We have everything we need; it is more than enough,” she said.
I left our conversation that evening refreshed and inspired. Her love for her husband, child, life, and work was evident in what she said and in how she looked. She radiated contentment and joy, and the effect was contagious. After striving to do more, be more, and have more for 30 years, this woman finally had the courage to slow down and identify who and what she really wanted to be. It wasn’t the money, or the nice house and car, or the prestige that she wanted. In simplifying her life to her core desires, she found more life, more contentment, more joy, more satisfaction, more purpose and passion.
Don’t settle for the “American Dream.” Let us be in the business of living well and working with all of our hearts at whatever our hands find to do. If at all possible, choose work that brings you joy, which in turn gives joy to others.
What have you always wanted to do? Are you brave enough or able at this time to pursue it?
**I can’t leave this post without recommending two excellent books I’ve read which cover this topic. The first is The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins. The other (which I am only in the middle of right now, but I love it already) is A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily Freeman. Another I haven’t read yet (regrettably) but have no qualms about endorsing, based on everything else I have read by and about him, is Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff. Get your hands on one or all of these books if you are at all ready to take the next step to living the life- and doing the work- you have always dreamed of.