The top two regrets of the dying, according to nurse and author Bronnie Ware:
1) “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
2) “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”
After six years working for a (truly) amazing company, but in a job that didn’t exactly have me bounding out of bed every morning – admittedly, this revelation about late life regret struck a chord.
But it wasn’t just the thought of dying unfulfilled and regretful that was reason for concern. When my cardiologist proclaimed I was officially the youngest female he had ever treated for severe hypertension, I knew I needed to formulate an exit strategy.
So, I quit my job.
I then made the conscious choice to not spend another minute building a life I knew I’d one day regret. I decided to turn my passion for marketing communications and consumer strategy into a career where I could enjoy more flexibility. Now as a freelancer, I do what I enjoy every day, with the ability to work my own terms. Those terms? Work smarter, not harder.
DREAMY MILLENNIAL BULLSH*T, screams my fellow LinkedIn peers and elder corporate comrades.
I’ll paraphrase one professional’s comment on LinkedIn, in response to an article about building the life you want by turning a passion into a career:
As a kid, I didn’t exactly dream about being a mortgage lender, but guess what? Someone has to do it. If everyone just decided to quit their job and pursue their “passion”, the real work wouldn’t get done because everyone would be skipping around as an artist or writer. –Negative No-shenanigans Nancy
Calm down, Nancy. No need to worry about everyone jumping ship to become hipster artists (the horror!). Why am I not worried? Because there will always be people in the world (like Nancy) to fill in where others decided to take a leap of faith.
Some people are content with “good enough.” Not miserable at their job, but not happy. Some people really are miserable, but make the best of it, and find contentment in that approach.
Unfortunately (or, fortunately?), I am not either of those people. (And yes, understood not everyone has the luxury to drop everything and pursue a new path – just keep reading, my friends.)
I strongly believe following your passion is not bullsh*t. Here’s why.
Studies have shown that those who are passionate about what they do tend to be more successful and productive. In fact, passion isn’t just a factor, but the factor, for success, according to the field of positive psychology. Makes sense. If you like – no, love – what you do, you’re going to pour your heart and soul into it, not because you have to, but because you want to.
And guess what else? People who pursue their passion, in any capacity, are happier than those who don’t. For some, pursuing their passion can be turned into a lucrative career. For others, not so much; however, accumulation of wealth is not indicative of a “happy” person. As the precursor approach to Sheryl Sandberg’s “lean in”, I believe Arianna Huffington’s “lean back” view is more reflective of a profound priority shift in American society:
“Ultimately, success is not about money or position, but about living the life you want, not just the life you settle for.”
Now, pursuing what makes you happy doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. Do you enjoy cooking? Carve out time on the weekend to put your grandmother’s recipes to the test. Do you find that you not only enjoy cooking, but you’re also pretty good at it? Great. The intersection of passion and talent is success. Pursue your passion every chance you get, and you may find that success comes to you naturally.
Maybe turning a passion into a career isn’t for everyone. Maybe it’s better that it’s not. But for everyone else? Go ahead. Get out there and turn those bullsh*t dreams into your own success.