Passion and Career Redux

The comments section from Friday’s post was filled with so much that for my own sake I needed to go through and pick out a few thoughts to highlight.

Here’s the 10 biggest things that jumped out at me from Friday’s comments.

1. Being successful will take hard work and sacrifice. No matter how much you love something, you’re still going to have to push yourself to make it work. For some this will mean waking up too early or going to bed too late. For others it will mean giving up a hobby or a big lifestyle change. Bottom line, turning your passion into a career is almost always a tough road.

2. I don’t assume I am talented enough to make it. Some of you said some nice things about me, but just to be clear, I don’t assume I am a good enough writer or a funny enough dude to “make it” doing the things I love. I know I have some talent, but I’ve got a long way to go.

3. If you love doing something, do it. Maybe you can’t support your family with it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend time doing it. As Jon Acuff once told me, “Sometimes you need to stop doing the things you like to make time for the things you love.”

4. We’re living in a different time, and that’s a good thing. Jon Acuff recently joked that our grandparents never cared that they weren’t passionate about their jobs (Kim D made a similar point). It’s true, but I don’t think it’s a great argument. These are different times we’re living in. Better times if you ask me. Anyone can pursue dreams, sharpen skills, and be heard in ways we couldn’t have dreamed of 50 years ago. I don’t mean this as a knock against the “good old days”, but I think these days are better.

5. Contentment is a slippery word. Paul said he learned to be content while in jail, yet he still longed to visit those he loved and said he had faith that it would happen. So being content isn’t about abandoning dreams of something different, it’s about seeing the good in the situation you’re in, EVEN IF you are hoping for something else.

6. The dilemma I’m facing is a problem only for the privileged. Like Rachel alluded to, many in the world are just struggling to get by and don’t have the luxury of choosing between jobs or trying to live off of artistic talent. I think it’s a great point and crucial to keep in mind for the sake of perspective, but I don’t think it’s an excuse to stay where you’re at in life and NOT want to pursue those opportunities (see #4).

7. Paul was an example, not a model. Agreed with Mark that just because Paul was a tent-maker to provide for some of his own needs, doesn’t mean we are all supposed to model our lives after what he did. A good example to follow? Probably. But if we’re going to call him a model on how to live, we should all be ashamed of ourselves for being married.

8. Taking big, bold steps can be a great way to make it happen. Ben and Esther both mentioned this, and I know Ben is speaking from experience as someone who left a great job at Catalyst to pursue his dreams doing other things. I think taking a bold step in faith forces you to work harder and get things done in a way that you can’t when you have the security blanket. But I also think not all of us can take a bold step right now and stay true to our priorities.

9. Jon and Jon made good points. I loved what Jon A had to say about staying dangerous by keeping your day job. But keeping your day job also means a lot less time for the other things. He makes it work, as do many others, but it’s still a big factor. Also loved what Jon D said about viewing your creative pursuits as a second job. I think that gives you a healthier perspective on how it fits into your life than considering it a hobby.

10. Do what you’re good at, where you’re at. I like what Jason B had to say about getting paid to do the things you are good at. For me that means discovering what I’m good at (which is a process I’m in), doing it well, and looking for ways to monetize it. Matthew also added some great perspective living in Nashville and seeing artists move there, only to struggle. Don’t miss out on the joy of doing what you’re passionate about because you are so determined to make money off it.

SO what does it all mean?

Sorry, I’ve got no big epiphany for you. But all of your thoughts last week really helped me process some things.

For me personally, providing for my family remains my #1 priority. And as such, I will make decisions that help me achieve that, which right now means doing a good job at my real job.

And if my #2 priority is doing the things I love, then maybe I do need to make some life changes. Maybe I’ll start watching less TV, playing less softball, and being more intentional about the time I do have to write. That’s something Erica and I are talking about more these days.

Thanks for letting me be honest about something that’s been on my mind a lot, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ll tell you one thing for sure, our grandparents never would have been able to get so many opinions from so many different people in such a short time.

These truly are exciting days.

if you had anything else to share on the topic, by all means keep sharing your thoughts.