The two single best pieces of advice I’ve received in my life were “Duck!”, and “Do a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” The latter sounds idealistic, doesn’t it? Yeah. It is. And it means that you don’t have to wait until closing time or weekends to live your life.
Bob Dylan once said, “What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” What’s going to pay me a lot of money? Where am I going to be successful, according to someone else’s definition? Those questions are useless. Trying to answer them is even worse!
What about these: What am I passionate about? What do I love doing? Better. How about: What am I good at? No, getting colder again. If you love something, you’re usually good at it – or you will be if you practice enough. Bob Dylan, notwithstanding.
You don’t become the master of anything – regardless of how passionate you are about it – overnight. In The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell posits that we need to put in 10,000 hours before we master a skill and can call ourselves “experts.” I’ve put in a few hundred thousand hours of leisure, so I’m all set. Whether you’re playing an instrument, painting, writing, or developing marketing strategy, you not only have to put in the time, you have to use that time to be invested in it, to be learning and growing. The return on your effort is that you enjoy yourself while moving forward.
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“But money is money. I need to pay my student loans. I don’t have time to enjoy myself.” No joke. The average college debt load is $27,000*. Money is important, but if you master what you’re passionate about, the money usually comes. Worst-case scenario is that you’re doing what you love. I’ve known people with wildly “successful” careers who were miserable. Worse, they’re stuck being miserable because it is incredibly difficult to go from $300,000 a year lifestyle to a $50,000, one, even if happiness is the payoff.
These people put happiness on hold, thinking, “I’ll earn money now and then be happy.” When? It’s not the destination; it’s the ride. Happiness should never be an end goal. Joy should start with the pursuit. You may not have achieved your definition of success yet, but if your job inspires you, you’re on your way. You started, even if the route is often circuitous.
Anthony von Mandl is a perfect example. He was passionate about making fine wine in Canada with old world techniques. The wine was expensive – and so was the process of creating it. He tried, and he failed. So much for passion. Look how far that got him! Well, hold on. This connoisseur of fine wine went on to invent Mike’s Hard Lemonade. I had one once. I still have a headache and slight case of heartburn. Anyway, it was wildly successful, and von Mandl raked in the profits. Which he used to fund his passion and build Mission Hill Winery into one of the premier vineyards in Canada.
So, there you go. Invent a vodka cooler that tastes like a cross between Kool-Aid and dish water, and you will have the freedom and money to do anything you like. Or find what you’re passionate about, and move towards it. You might have to be a waiter or a bartender before you get your “big break.” I once owned a restaurant/bar that hired mostly aspiring actors and models. One of them was Malin Akerman. Now she’s co-starring with the likes of Vince Vaughan and Ben Stiller. When you have your priorities straight, you know it’s a stepping stone for you. Maybe you have to work until you get to the place where you enjoy your job so much it isn’t “work” at all, but you can be happy in the pursuit.