Monday, May 11, 2009

Money Monday: May 11, 2009

How often have you heard this one: “Do what you love and the money will follow”?

And how often have you said something like, “*snort!* Ya, right, because it is just sooooooo easy to make a living watching CSI:Anywhere and knitting up cotton washcloths!”

I have my own theory about that saying (no, really? Tama has a theory about something? What a shocking surprise!! Because, you know, she has so few theories…)


Anyway. My feelings around how true that statement is can be articulated with another Olde Sayinge: “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

Plus, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Times like these are both the worst and the best for thinking about doing what you love, rather than whatever puts food on the table. I wouldn’t swap a steady paycheck for opening my own business right now if I had the choice, frankly; but not having that choice, and having been forced to do it…it’s good.

I work harder and longer than I would at a conventional job for returns that are not quite equal to what I’ve made in the past for a lot less effort…but it doesn’t feel that way. In fact, I usually don’t realize I’ve had a “rough” week until I start totaling up the hours for our record keeping.

Put in a lot of hard work, add a dollop of good old horse sense and some meticulous business practices, and the money will follow, almost no matter what you’ve decided to make Your Business.

Put a lot of hard work, a dollop of good old horse sense and some meticulous business practices into something you love and the money will follow and all of the above will feel almost effortless.

It isn’t that simple, of course. Someone who loves making one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments out of dog poop, for example, may find their gross (in more ways than one, ahem) income is a little…um…less than spectacular.

Some things just aren’t going to be fah-buu-los money makers, no matter how hard you try.

But here’s another thing about doing what you love: It can make sacrificing other things a much easier pill to swallow.

If I’m doing something I love, but it doesn’t earn me enough golden coins to pay for a seven day European cruise?

Hey, you know what?

I’m OK with that. The cruise would be nice, sure it would…but I’d rather be happy 95% of the time and keep my vacations to a nice camping trip with the kids than be miserable 95% of the time but able to take one crummy week off to loll around on a boat.

A lot of times, we sort of default into a position where we’re just plain unsatisfied with our lives – we get a job, any job, and we do that job, and the job is tiring and boring and stupid, so we live for the weekends. We spend-spend-spend trying to make ourselves happier, but it’s just not right because bills-bills-bills, we’ve got to get back to work. Got to make more money, for the bills-bills-bills, hate this job, can’t quit this job, miserable-miserable-miserable, you know what WE need? A VACATION! Quick, charge up a seven day cruise and some new clothes and we’re going dine from sea to shining sea! $200 for champagne, sure! This is a vacation! So, c’mon, make with the happy!!!!

And then the boat docks and we go back to Real Life, where we are miserable and unable to break the bonds of misery because bills-bills-bills.

95% miserable, 5% manic about having fun, dammit!!!

When you’re miserable, the idea of giving up your “little luxuries,” from a stupid $3 Starbucks fix to a $3,000 (or even $30,000) vacation makes you feel physically nauseous. Can’t do it. It’s a non-starter, Sparky! You BACK OFF my little luxuries, or I KILL YOU!!!!

But when you’re doing what you love for a living, well…a lot of things become clear.

I don’t need to take a vacation to relax and be happy. My daily life being spent doing something I at least like means I’m not walking around with a 500 pound sack of Stress on my shoulders to begin with – I don’t need to do anything to ease a burden I don’t have.

The money follows…and then it stays put.

Which means that if I’m making less money doing something that makes me happy, well, that’s OK. I don’t need more.

I need enough, and then I am full.

I’m not advising that everybody who isn’t ecstatic about their job quit immediately!, and rush out to open yarn stores or bait shops or whatever.

I’m just saying that if you are miserable with your work-life balance, take a few moments to think about why. Think about what would make you happier, and ask yourself why you aren’t doing that instead.

It’s probably going to come down to money, and the knowledge that a lot of times what we love are not necessarily things that make you a zillionaire.

But don’t put the period there. Keep thinking about it. What would be closer to what you love? What about your job is making you miserable? What would make it better? Is it this specific office / boss / coworker? Is it the industry? Is it your part of the industry?

How can you start finding more Happy in your daily working life? What kind of change would you need to make, and what would it do to your paycheck? (Funny how seldom that kind of switch results in a bigger paycheck, huh?)

What kinds of things do you do right now for a momentary mood lift would you be willing to do without, to be happier all of the time?

It’s one of the great gifts of our race, the ability to think beyond what is right in front of us. We can imagine what isn’t physically there, build from unpleasant realities new places that we would prefer.

We can do what we love, and money great or small will follow, and we can then craft our own Happy from whatever our love has attracted to us.

What marvelous creatures we are, eh?


Steph B said...

Girl, you sure know how to hit the nail on the head. We are, at this very moment, taking steps to scale back on "things" (house, etc.) to allow Hubby more latitude to find a job he likes instead of one that he barely tolerates. It's going to be a process, but just making plans and getting started feels really good. And it will be SO worth it to take some of the stress off my sweetheart's shoulders!

Rena said...


Kaviare said...

I need a holiday at the moment like crazy, so that I can start remembering that I actually DO like my job, and the people, quite a bit. But it hits winter (which it just did, here in the southern hemisphere) and I spend all the daylight hours locked in a little box, and it makes me CRANKY!

There are things that I wish would change about my current job. But nothing major. Mostly I just need an attitude adjustment... sigh...

Michael Irwin said...

Like Steph said, right on! I'm incredibly lucky that I've almost always done what I love doing - only the commute has ever got me down.

If that describes you right now (and I really hope it does!), then congrats!