To say it’s been one of those weeks would be an understatement. I’ve been burning the blood pressure cuff at both ends at work, and I’ve been feeling really crummy physically with chronic back issues that have been really bad this week. A few of my close friends faced serious health issues this week as well, and I was this close to raising my fist in the air and shouting “Come on! You’ve got to be kidding me?! Are You working overtime to make life tough?” I even committed the ultimate frugality sin and made an impulse buy to make myself feel better. Forty dollars later, I had purchased every colorful and shiny thing from the Target Christmas section as well as a miniature tree to put it all on; and after all that, I was still feeling a bit crummy and sorry for myself.
Check out my cat Ruckus with some of my glittery Target spoils.
Last night I was committed to work with two amazing ladies to lead a biweekly small group of middle school girls from our church. I spent hours justifying why I deserved to call in a “gimme” and stay home, but I trudged to my car anyway and drove 45 minutes to meet up with the girls. I am so glad I did. In fact, I can’t believe I was ever thinking about skipping out in the first place. Amidst all the stress, what I needed to do was spend a little time doing what I love- what I was clearly made to do. So I cast aside my troubles and spent two hours teaching, laughing, and doing life with some amazing young women. I was instantly refreshed.
What does any of this have to do with the purpose of this blog? First of all – there’s a frugality lesson that sometimes the best tools for coping with rough moments are completely free. I spent $40.00 unnecessarily (although I did use my 15% off Target Pharmacy Rewards, so I get some credit!). The Christmas décor didn’t make me any happier. In fact, it made me feel kind of worse because I’m not a splurge spender by nature. The thing that actually improved my spirits was free and I tried to bail on it. So – that was a bit of a lesson for me to put stock in what really matters, remembering that frivolous spending will never make everything better.
Second, there is a career lesson to be taken from this. For those of you who are blessed to be doing the thing you love most as your primary career, you can go ahead and tune out now. For the rest of us who are passionate about things that don’t necessarily fit neatly into a position that gives us the financial support and benefits we need to survive – here’s something to chew on. Sometimes it’s worth doing what you love – even if it pays you nothing. I read a great article on employee burnout in our slowly recovering economy from USA Today. It painted a pretty bleak picture of a workforce that is struggling just to show up each day. When you spend the majority of your waking hours slaving over something you weren’t created to do, you will eventually burn out. That’s not to say that you can’t have aspects of what you love in every job – but you need to create avenues in your life which access your dream vocation. It could be like it is with me – working with young people. It could be writing fiction, researching historical topics, inventing solutions to scientific problems, “suping” up cars…anything. The point is, there’s something you would do if you won the lottery and never had to worry about income again. If you want to stay fresh in your day job, then you should sprinkle in a little of your dream job where you can. Blog, volunteer, join an affinity group, consult, create things and sell them – It doesn’t matter what you do, but you should do something, because avoiding burnout is a key strategy for career advancement. When you check out – it’s only a matter of time before your employer notices, and then – the writing is on the wall.
The other benefit of staying connected to your dream is that you are prepared when the day comes for you to make your dream a reality. Confession – my dream is to study to be a teacher and one day move to Hershey Pennsylvania to teach at the Milton Hershey School – a residential school for children without the family support they need for success. Oh – and while I’m there, I might also eat my weight in chocolate, but that’s just an added bonus. If I don’t maintain a connection to my dream by impacting the lives of young people today, I risk losing sight of my dream entirely. Also – WHEN (not if) I get the chance to interview for my dream job, I want to be able to speak about a lifetime of experience serving young people. How can I do that if I’ve stopped doing what I love? So I challenge you – are you doing what you love? You might get paid pennies, you might get paid nothing, but the benefits are real. Besides – the happier you are, the better you are going to be at your day job, and that success is a stepping stone to your dream come true.
What would you do if you won the lottery today and never had to worry about income again?