You would probably be happier if you were able to live your life without the worries of fear and money and you didn’t have to deal with the consequences of being risky with either of those. If you adopted a mindset that allowed you to think in this new way, you would be able to take chances with all those endeavors you dreamed of over the years but put towards the back of your brain. They were just too risky! I’m going to talk to you about this way of thinking and how I believe you can incorporate it into your life.
We have a sort of cycle of asking society what to do to accomplish what we want through each part of our lives: financially, spiritually, relationship-wise, etc. etc. Which of course makes me think of the Chain of Screaming from How I Met Your Mother
, but discussing that will have to wait for another time.
We want to buy that dream house for our family. Well, how does everybody else do that? Of course, they do it with money. So, how do I get the money? It seems like other people have jobs to get this task completed. I better get a job. I got one! Now, I enjoy my job, but I definitely don’t get enough money to pay for my dream house. Other people get higher paying jobs, so I guess I’ll do that. I found one. I don’t like my job, but at least I have saved up for my dream house. Ooh, I really like that new car.
And the cycle continues. This is how most people view money and how a lot of people with creative capacity end up working 60 hour jobs. Now, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with 60 hour (to 90 hour) jobs. Some people thrive in that kind of environment. It isn’t the right environment however, for somebody who needs time to get into a creative flow every once in a while (ideally every day). As the cycle goes from dream house to job as in our previous example you end up taking on more and more hours and responsibility. You move up the “ladder" but you keep on putting all those “creative things you’ve been meaning to do" off to the side. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it.
“But, Bryan, my wife is tired of the house we’re in, and I’m afraid that my boss will fire me if I don’t work my butt off."
You can choose to stay in this cycle if you want to. But I’m telling you right now, it is a lifetime commitment. If you just trudge along to your job and convince yourself that it’s OK and continue to require more money and higher positions, there is a good chance that you will never be able to give your creative endeavors the time that they require. If you want to give yourself a chance to
live your life creatively
, at some point, you’re just gonna have to go for it.
I’m kind of a sports nerd, so I’m going to liken this to a particular football situation. I’ll try to keep this simple. Sometimes, when the quarterback hikes the ball, the referees throw a penalty flag right away. If they do not blow their whistle to stop the play that means that the penalty is almost definitely against the defense. Because they have kept the play going this means that even if the offense does something really bad, like accidentally throwing the ball to the other team or dropping it while attempting some crazy dive, it will not count against them. The referees have absolved them of any responsibility for their actions. The offense has been given a free play.
Now what typically happens when this free play situation occurs? Do they safely hand off the ball to the big fullback who typically can’t get farther than a couple of yards? Do they throw the ball out of bounds because they can’t find anybody who’s open? No! They throw the ball really far down the field and hope that one of their guys catches it. But what if he doesn’t? No big deal! It’s a free play and they have nothing at all to lose.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you were sitting in your office chair right now and a referee came out of nowhere telling you that you had a free play for the rest of the year? What would you do with yourself? Perhaps you would go home to your family and set up a writing studio for yourself. Then you could finish that novel you’d been putting off. Maybe you would take some tap dancing lessons to get back in shape and do your own well-publicized showcase. Heck, you might even just tell your boss, “look, I love working for your company, but only between 9 and 5, Monday through Friday, the rest of my week is mine." You wouldn’t have to worry about it; you would have a complete get out of jail free card for the entire year.
Or maybe you already do.
Life is your free play.
We have a choice of how we want to live and we have the ability to think of the third alternative. If it seems like there are just two choices: being poor and being happy or being rich and being overworked, then you aren’t thinking hard enough about the other option. It’s what author/speaker Stephen Covey calls “Think Win-Win." He refers to it more from an interdependence standpoint, but the message still works. There are always other options; they just take a little more thought than usual. They require that you put on your blinders to what the typical person in society would do.
Instead of a job working for a Fortune 100 company, maybe you could start your own practice, or eBusiness, or your own website! But I’m not the one standing in your shoes, so there is a good chance that you could come up with way better ideas if you sat down and thought about them.
Why don’t you do it right now?
Sit down and think about how to live your life as if you had a free play. Give yourself half an hour before or after work today (or during your lunch break, that conversation about the latest College Bowl
game can wait till tomorrow ). Really think about the ways in which your life could improve without those darn worries in your way. If nothing else, it’ll be a nice trip to a magical world where you actually live your life. But maybe, just maybe, you’ll come up with an idea that will work. And in that case…