DO WHAT YOU LOVE OR LIKE WHAT YOU DO
There’s a saying that unsuccessful people go for desirable processes, while successful people go for desirable outcomes. How true.
But then again, others like Barbara Sher would say that ‘to be completely happy, to live a completely fulfilled life, you have to do what you love.” That is true as well.
So do we do what we love, or do whatever is necessary (however we dislike it) to achieve what we truly desire?
TO PAINT OR NOT TO PAINT
Take Tim as an example. Tim loved painting from young, and still does. But everyone advised him that making a living as an artist would be really tough. So Tim spent years pursuing a law degree and building up a successful legal practice, only to feel trapped in his career and frustrated with life.
Should Tim quit his high-paying legal position to pursue the path of an artist?
Well, imagine this – Tim quits his job and starts painting. To sell his art, he posts pictures on the internet hoping that people will buy them. But he realises quickly that he still needs to hone his painting skills, and no one is even visiting his website. He starts to spend time attending seminars and learning to do online marketing and sales, all of which takes time away from his true passion of painting and creation. Before the year was over, Tim was broke and totally hated his life.
Compare this with the real-life story of Kelly Rae Roberts, who started her career as a clinical medical social worker. At the age of 30, Kelly accidentally discovered her love for paint. She started putting all her free time into attending art festivals, workshops, and immersing herself in the exploration and experimentation of paint. Each morning, she would pull herself out of bed and went back sleepily to her job as a medical social worker.
Six months later, Kelly started selling originals and prints, and then moved on to setup her website. Her portfolio grew, she got a book deal, then magazine deals, bigger deals, contracts…. In just 3 years, Kelly had $10million worth of sales. Today, her art is licenced all over the world, she has a huge following on her blog, and she runs several courses…
FIND YOUR PERSONAL NICHE
What’s the lesson here? We all have a “sweet spot”, our unique personal niche, that sits right in the space where our values, skills and talents all converge.
(a) Talents are our inborn gifts. These are areas that we tend to be most passionate about and can learn quickly and willingly. Think of what you enjoy the most and what energizes you. It gives you a hint of where your talents may lie.
(b) Talents however need to be honed. Skills are areas that we are experienced in and excel at, often after years of hard work and practical application. Kelly invested late nights and resources to experiment and develop her skills in painting, and to concurrently develop her network, before she ventured out successfully.
Like Kelly, most of us may be educated and trained in a totally different field from our true passions. While learning new skills take time and persistent effort, the good news is, our passion can give us the energy and drive we need to become a master in that chosen field.
(c) Values are at the core of our belief systems, and are often a product of our upbringing and associations. Someone who loves dancing may find herself having a more fulfilling career as a dance teacher than a performer, if she values passing on her knowledge and helping as many people as possible to enjoy dancing. Read the biography of any successful individual and you will realise their lives are governed by a clear mission and set of values/ beliefs. What are yours?
YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU LOVE…
As Earl Nightingale wisely says, ‘Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy goal or ideal’.
Everything starts with us obtaining clarity on what we truly love and want in life. And then taking baby steps toward those goals and ideals.
Tim can leave his legal career in 5 years, after he achieves some success with paintings. He can also settle for legal consultancy work and enjoy painting as a second career. Both paths can be equally fulfilling. But both require that he acknowledges his true desires and take concrete steps towards them.
What will give Tim additional power beyond passion and skills? Clarity on the mission and objectives behind his paintings. Kelly for example believes that art has the transformative power to heal both the maker and the receiver, and seeks to tell the truth through her artwork.
What do you believe in? What are you great at? What do you love?
…BUT BE PREPARED TO LIKE WHAT YOU DO IN THE PROCESS
There is no learning in the comfort zone and no comfort in the learning zone. To achieve success in the areas that we love, we will inevitably need to overcome challenges in areas that we dislike or fear. Challenges that take us way outside our comfort zones.
That is also when we discover our true capabilities and potential.
To live life on your own terms, you must first have some clarity on what are your terms. Here are 2 sets of questions to start getting more clarity.
1. List down:
(a) The 5 things that you are really passionate about
(b) The 5 biggest successes in your life
(c) The 5 things that people always come to you for help on
(d) Your top 5 values
Ask yourself: If you had all the time, money and control over your life (i.e. there are totally no constraints), what would you do with your time and what difference would you make?
2. Can you think of anyone who is doing what you desire to do, or has the life that you aspire to lead?
Read more about them and what they did.
What was the “price” they paid? What was the true reward that they enjoyed? What did you find most exciting and inspiring about their journey?
What have you learnt about yourself?
Stay tuned for Part 2 on some concrete steps you can start taking to redesigning your life, today. (edit)
To the life you’ve always wanted,
Angela, SoH Chief Happiness Officer