Saturday, October 14, 2006

Balancing passion with practicality

Do you trust your choices?

In my last post I suggested that instead of starting with finding what you love to do, start with finding how to love what you do. Then I suggested some questions for you to consider. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Has anybody forced you to hold this job?
  • Are you choosing to hold this job?
  • What is it that you are getting from the job?
  • What is it that you are not getting from this job?
  • What possibilities exist for getting what you want from this job?

Most people come to the conclusion that nobody is forcing them to hold their current job. Are you one of these people? If you answer yes, then you are accepting that you choose to hold your job. Further, I suggest that your choice is probably based on very sound reasons. I can’t know them, but you do.

Consider this example. Ruth is very passionate about art. She loves to create original works of beauty. She is a single mother of 2 children, and she provides for them very well, by working as an HR manager in a successful company. She doesn’t love her job and would rather be painting.

Consider this example – Rick is a manager in an IT firm. He makes enough money, has a great title, and is generally well thought of by his friends. He doesn’t love his job but he doesn’t know what else he could be doing.

In each case, the bottom line is that Ruth and Rick don’t love their jobs. But they are each getting something important from their jobs. Ruth gets to take care of her kids and Rick gets the respect from others that he seeks.

Can you identify with either situation in some way? I suggest that it is important to recognize the trade-offs we make. – Because that helps us to trust our choices.

So let’s imagine that Ruth is considering giving up her job in order to be a painter. Clearly her first priority is to have a certain income regardless of what she does, because she knows that she must provide for her kids in a certain way. So what are her choices? Perhaps she can find a way to change her occupation while making the same amount of money. But she realizes that it is difficult to establish oneself as an artist, and it will take a while to ramp up. If she quit her job and took up art, she would be pursuing her passion, but she would be unhappy about her mothering. She would be worrying about money, and ultimately all this would begin to undermine her passion. So she stays in her job. She is choosing her priorities in life and acting in accordance with them. What could be sounder?

Now, there are at least 2 possibilities for her to live with her choice. - Happily and not so happily. She could give herself credit for her clarity, and understand the trade-offs she is making in order to be happy in the long term. Or she could resent the practical demands on her, that she herself is making, which rob her of her passion. And she can go on, hating her job.

What I am suggesting here is that when we find ourselves balancing passion with practicality, it robs us of nothing! There are indeed some people who can suffer almost anything for their passion, and I admire them greatly. But most people are like me and Ruth and Rick and perhaps you too, and we want to be secure and safe and engaged, all at the same time.

I am suggesting that the opportunity here is to step out of the confusion of resenting what you will not drop. - To see your choices as a package deal that come with consequences included. - So that you won’t be doing one thing, while looking longingly at another.

Then when you are no longer coveting something else, you begin to more fully accept what you are doing. You open to the possibility of discovering more in your present situation. This is the beginning of loving what you do. Don’t you think?

So does that mean that art is over for Ruth? Or that Rick will have to settle for work without passion? I don’t think so. If you’d like to discuss that, stay tuned.


Copyright 2006 Ameeta Kaul


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