So often we settle into a job or career by default. Let’s face it, we are taught that we need to get a job, not that we need to acquire income. Acquiring income implies something very different than getting a job. It also lends itself to be more open to earning a living doing something you love and have passion for rather than just being able to pay bills and survive.
We all must pay our dues but if you started paying your dues in a field that you love, by the time you hit mid life or sooner, you would probably be happier. A 2017 Gallup Poll says 85% of people hate their job and especially their boss, 70% of that is in the United States.
Why is this number consistently high? The reality is that it doesn’t matter. People do what they do for their own reasons. The question you want to ask yourself is, am I part of that 80%? Well….Are you?
If you have a side hustle, hopefully it is something that brings you joy. Some have a side hustle to compensate for what their regular grind doesn’t cover. Man! You are working way too hard. Mark Twain said, “Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life”. So…what do you love doing? Can you make a living at it? Don’t just say no. See if someone else is making a living at it. If someone is then you can too.
When I was young I dreamt of being the next Whitney Houston and in Jr. High, I gave myself the nickname Debbie II, after Debbie Allen. She is a triple threat, singing, dancing, and acting and I had always planned to be that person too. I even got a chance to audition for Debbie Allen once. I was going to be “fierce” like she would say in Fame. Well, as you can guess, I choked. I hadn’t stopped pursuing my dreams yet, but eventually I did. I did what most people do, I got a job. I got a lot of jobs.
I’ve been working since I was 16 years old and I am now 49. To this day, the longest job I’ve ever had is just over 2 years. I know right? Something is wrong with that. Now to be fair, I was lucky enough to be laid off a lot but, I was always thankful when that happened. I felt free and relieved. What is wrong with that picture? But, true to my home training, I always went back to looking for and acquiring, a job.
After 40, that began to change a bit. I was finally tired of the duel edged sword of working a job I hate and still being broke. That didn’t make any sense to me. At least if I’m going to do something I don’t want to do, surely life would be comfortable and fun right? Nope! Is any of this resonating with YOU? Be honest.
In my 40’s I began to discover me. I aggressively attacked my depression, I became more social by joining organizations that spoke to what I wanted to do with my life like Toastmasters and I got a commercial agent. I could feel my younger artist self fighting for position over my traditional, “you need a job to make a living”, self. What began to happen is my true self began to win and my internal voice was finally beginning to lose! Because of that, there were a couple of times, I risked it all on myself. As a result, I wrote two books, have spoken all over the united states, and have won awards for doing what I love. To be fair, I have the luxury of no kids and no spouse so I do have more freedom than most but I am also saddled with being the only breadwinner so if I don’t kill it, I don’t eat!
The last and final time I went back to a traditional job was in 2015 but this time it was a conscious business decision. You know how people say that they do what they have to do for their kids? Well, I did what I had to do to grow my business. I gave myself two years and I took a job making less than I was used to but it was more than unemployment and more than I was bringing in. It kept me hungry so I would stay inspired to continue to grow my business while working a full time job. I used vacation time to do training on the side, I spoke at events on evenings and weekends, I partnered with others as well as joining industry organizations like NSA (National Speakers Association) and ATD (Association for Training and Development) to get me closer to the people doing what I wanted to do and to learn this business as a business not just as a spectator or a novice. All this, while still being responsible for my traditional job.
Then the job did something unexpected. I got stock options when I was hired. I had no idea what that meant for me. I figured they didn’t mature until the 5th year so I didn’t think anything about them. I knew I wasn’t going to be there for five years so it didn’t matter to me. Then, I learned that they can serve me before my 5th year tenure. A plan was born!
This was unexpected money. However, there is a price for cashing in stock because it shows as income and remember you do have to pay taxes on that.
Truth be told, I wanted to quit after my first 6 months but I stuck it out and was even planning to stay one more year just to wrap up the projects I was doing and to really give my life and my business a solid footing but 7 weeks before I quit, I hit my limit. There is always that straw. That one too many things, one too many times. I hit mine and an even bigger, stronger, more purposeful plan was put in place! Now I had an exit date! I still wasn’t totally clear on how but I knew when and the pieces that might make it possible if they all lined up the way I envisioned.
Mostly it required patience and when you are a hot head like me, it’s hard but, I trusted my maturity and the plan. Anytime something rattled me, I thought about the plan and the countdown to freedom. I even downloaded a countdown app on my phone. I reminded myself that this time has to be different and if I follow the plan, I will not have to do this anymore, ever again! That was it for me. I was ready to be free enough to live my dreams on purpose. On November 10, 2017 I quit!
I walked away with only five maybe six months worth of savings (again, still hungry enough to work for it) but it felt great. Today in addition to working at home, I go work by the beach or at the park. I wrote most of this article at the park with a view of downtown Culver City while sipping Starbucks with a little jazz in the background. That is living and working the habit of happy!
Now it’s your turn. If you followed any of the steps from the last article or went to www.thehabitofhappy.com to purchase my book 28 Days to Happy, you may have started to work on your H.A.P.P.Y.! That means you have tapped into your truth. If you haven’t, now’s your chance. Think about what is really true for you in your professional life. Are you doing what you love? If yes, fantastic! If no, it’s time to work out a plan:
1. What would you do if you could do it for free and everything else was taken care of? Remember, no judgement, shoot for the stars. (write it down or make a list)
2. When can you start doing it? (if it isn’t already your side hustle) Think this through. Print out blank calendars if you need to. The roll out doesn’t have to be perfect just get started so you can start getting feedback. Think of everything you need to do it. Remember to include an exit plan if you will need to leave your current traditional job to live your dream. If it requires certification of something that takes longer than 3 – 5 months to start, begin by mapping out your plan and join an organization or get around people doing what you want to do so you can start getting support and resources to help you on your journey.
If speaking or training is something you’d like to do, reach out to me at email@example.com and I will be happy to give you a free 30 minute consultation on how to move forward.
3. This last step is just for you. Start visualizing your life as if you are already living in your happy. Go test drive the car you want. Go look for office space. Start planning that trip you want to take. Create a mock balance sheet to show your net worth. Do a vision board of all the elements of your H.A.P.P.Y. life. See your success clearly!
Studies have shown that disenchanted, burned out employees developed heart disease at a 79% higher rate than those who liked their job. It’s time to say NO MORE! No matter what you do to earn income, you should enjoy it and it should not take two, three, and five jobs to accomplish the life you want. Like any career, there will always be aspects that you don’t like but overall, you should love what you do. You will be healthier, have better personal and professional relationships, and most of all, you will always live the HABIT OF HAPPY!
Until next time…Go! Be! Do!