Now Hold Your Horses
Career Junction - Part 3

But let’s get real, shall we?

All this dream-following and heart-following stuff can put you in the poor house, right? The fact is, sometimes people just have to find work that satisfies their financial obligations but does not satisfy their deepest passions!


In fact, that has been the story of my life’s work: always pursuing the things I loved to do, but not relying solely (or even primarily) on them to provide for me and my family. Teaching school and singing part-time. Managing an office and entertaining part-time.

The truth is there are times when steady work, health benefits, etc., satisfy some basic needs: food, clothing, housing, and medical concerns. There are countless stories of men and women who “live their dream” yet scramble and fret and default in their financial obligations. That just “ain’t no fun” at all, you know. There is a peace of sorts, a settledness that can come from a job that supplies your basic needs yet does not fulfill your dreams. It can alleviate some worries that dog your steps.

So, let’s “hold our horses” a bit while we work out this dilemma.

My mother was a housewife when my brother and I were very young. My father worked at the Post Office in downtown Chattanooga. I doubt he grew up dreaming of working in the Post Office. But in those days people were comfortable with the notion that you should find a steady job (one that wasn’t going away) and stay with it to retirement. Then you could live on social security (which began in the mid-1930s) and your savings the rest of your days. [We added medicare in the mid-1960s to help with the growing cost of healthcare].

That worked out quite well for them even though Dad did not get to stay with the Post Office, but had to begin another couple of careers before retiring. Mother eventually went to do clerical work at the County Health Dept., and then for a school district in Arizona.

There are still some jobs like those around now, but they are getting fewer and fewer each year. But my parents saw their jobs as a necessary evil, made the best of it, and did not strive to pursue their passions (woodworking and singing for Dad; crafts, sewing, and creative writing for Mom) and expect them to provide for their daily needs.

There is much that can be said for viewing your work in that way.

And that is partly why it is so difficult to consider approaching work in another way.

Maybe the word “balance” is important here.

  1. One school of thought says, “Go for your dreams with no backup plan whatsoever, because if you have a backup plan you will not approach your dream work with complete abandon; you will need that sole dependance to catapult you to success.”
  2. Another school of thought says, “Find a stable occupation that will supply you with the necessities, or even more than what you need, so that you can pursue what you are passionate about in your off hours, or once you retire.”

Both are correct. It just depends on which price you are most willing to pay.

My country music friend, Don Williams, once told me that while he was trying to make it in country music he used to drive a bread truck; he played music on the side. Finally, he, Willie Nelson, and Kenny Rogers sat down together one day and said to each other, “OK, let’s give this full time music thing one more try.” All three of them became stars.

But that is not how every story goes.

So . . . what price are you willing to pay in order to live your dream?

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