The tug of war between what you need to do and what you want to do can be a challenging battle. I know lots of people working a day job to support themselves financially while working on a passion project during their evenings, weekends, and free time. I also know people who have quit a lucrative day job to pursue their passions full-time. I have done both, and both are challenging. Neither scenario is easy. Neither scenario is as dreamy as it appears to be on the surface. Neither is a one and done solution to anything. Each has its own flavor of stress and anxiety, as well as peace and joy. And it shifts day-to-day, sometimes hour to hour.
Here’s what I know to be true: you are in control of your mind, emotions, and time. Your thoughts and energy are yours and yours alone. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, ever owns them except you. And where your mind, energy, and time goes, your life goes.
Some of you will find a day job and side passions work for you. Some will find that pursuing your passions full-time is the best life. And there isn’t a point-of-no-return on either of these. I quit my day job in 2012 and ran my own business for 3 years. They were wonderful and trying years. In 2015, I took a full-time job again, closed my business, and have have continued to work on a variety of creative projects. This has also been a wonderful and trying year. Yes, there was a huge amount of variation between these two experiences, and yes, they were the right choices for me for those times. Once I made those decisions, I never looked back. I don’t regret either of those choices, and I never will. My life is unfolding one page at a time, and like a good book, I’m savoring all of the words.
If you are in the process of wrestling through these weighty decisions about life and career now, a lot of people are probably giving you their two cents, even if you didn’t ask them for their opinions. The only opinion I have for you is to do what you need to do for you. Right now. Always. Your story isn’t the same as someone else’s story. Your goals and talents are yours. Treasure them. Protect them. Go in the direction that feels right to you. There will be bumps in the road. There will be off-ramps, flat tires, and wrong turns. But there will also be some smooth sailing and many fellow travelers along the route who will help and guide you. You will experience all of it no matter what choice you make.
The only yardstick I use is this: if it all ends tomorrow, am I glad and grateful for the way I spent today? Did I wake up with a purpose and do my best to take one step along that purposeful path? That’s all we can do, and that is enough.