Whoa…heavy topic, right? (Settle in, this is a longer one, but I felt it needed to be said)
I was walking through the snow on my way to a haircut appointment the other day, listening to a podcast by James Altucher. His guest was author Robert Greene. The topic, “How To Become A Master Of What You Love.” You can listen to it here.
It got me thinking.
How did I get here?
I didn’t ask myself this question in the existential sense? (God, are you listening?)
I was reflective of the path it took to get here, owner of a Social Business Agency, doing work I love. It wasn’t my dream as a child; I wanted to be in the NBA, starting Point Guard for the Knicks.
Yet, as I look back on my life, I was never really, truly, unhappy in my career, and there’s a very good explanation for that; I have only ever aspired to do work that made me feel fulfilled and happy. So even when I wasn’t doing work that fed my soul, I never felt trapped because I always saw everything as a stepping stone to the next thing. Even now, I’m only on a stepping stone to the next level. My career never feels final, it’s iterative and always evolving. I have so much more to accomplish.
So now that I’m “here” I’d like to pass along some things that I’ve learned about falling in love in every sense of the word. Though I’m going to write this about falling in love with your career, the exact same principles exist in dating and relationships.
I think the only way a person can die happy, is to live a life of love.
How To Fall In Love: Start With The Voice Inside
Falling in love starts with listening to yourself. It starts with understanding yourself. It starts with loving yourself and accepting the things about yourself that may not fall into other people’s categories of right and wrong, safe or stupid, etc. Until you have that, you’ll never see the path clearly.
Many people mistakenly fall in love with the wrong things, chasing what doesn’t actually make them happy. They chase things that seem like the “smart decision.” They chase money or status. They chase job security (or the illusion of it).
In relationships, they look for people of a certain height, weight, or hair color. These things are superficial. Love doesn’t sit on the top epidermal layer, it’s not colored by melanin. It can’t be purchased.
So the first thing is to listen for a specific voice inside yourself. You’re looking for the voice that sounds like a giggle, or a kid freaking out about a movie they want to see. It’s youthful, it’s fresh, it’s excited…it’s magic. When you examine your career options, you’re looking for the one that causes that magic voice inside you to go bananas. Because falling for magic will trump falling for dollars every time.
How To Find The Path: First Dates
So many people struggle to understand what they are passionate about. So let’s make it easy:
Finding your way to the path is simple, it’s just like dating. Most people don’t expect that the first person that they ever date is going to be their soul mate. I mean, what are the chances?
But it starts like this:
You start dating someone.
- Maybe it’s because you’re attracted to them.
- Maybe it’s because they live next door and its convenient.
- Maybe it’ll piss off your parents.
Whatever the case may be, after the relationship falls apart you learn something about yourself.
You learn about what’s really important to you. You see all the places where it didn’t feel right. You see all the things that actually worked. And (hopefully) in the next relationship, you move closer to true love.
Date after date, time after time, you get more and more clarity, and then one day you see it, clear as day what you want, what you need to fulfill you in every way. You know this because you’ve done the work chasing what felt right at the time. And after disappointment and elation, you have a clear picture of what it is.
Now look at this through the lens of a career. Chase the “girl” or “guy” that grabs your attention. The one that makes you tingle inside. If it doesn’t work out, reflect, learn, and move forward.
Falling Deeper In Love
My path was never stunted by a desire to make the “smart” decision. I took every opportunity to listen to the voice inside my heart.
P.S. that voice is a tad bit insane (I mean, at 5’5″ I thought I was going to be the starting point guard for the Knicks. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but it certainly was a long shot)
In any event, after much trial and error I arrived at a point where I had an MBA, and a business of my own.
Here’s where it gets tough.
It’s not enough to fall in love. Much like relationships, you don’t just fall in love, walk off into the sunset and everything is rainbows and sunshine. You have to work at it. Love isn’t lust, it’s not just passion. It’s commitment, it’s dedication. So may people fail at this because they give up too early. They give up on their relationships when they realize it’s not always easy. They give up on their dreams when they realize they have to confront failure, inadequacy, competition, and all manner of other hardships.
But this is exactly where you have to dig in.
Falling in love with your career, with your work, is so much more than the initial feeling that follows cupid’s arrow piercing you.
If you want to live a remarkable life, do work that matters, and (eventually) die happy, you need to commit. You need to give it everything you’ve got.
Runner’s talk of the “runner’s high,” no runner has ever felt that running a half mile.
So, if you truly want to live a remarkable life, if you want to taste the sweetest victories, if you want to die happy, search high and low for your true love, in everything you do. Don’t settle for anything less.
Don’t take the first thing that comes along. Heck, don’t even take the best thing that comes along. Be the author of your story, and fall deeply, truly in love with the life you have. There’s nothing wrong with anything less, but there’s something so much more profound about constructing the life and career you want.