living your passion“How the hell do people do this?”

I’d just walked in from a long day’s work — something I should be thankful for in a down economy. My hands felt like ice blocks and my face was numb from the jolting breeze. I couldn’t get my coat off soon enough so I could sink into the mocha that is my couch and think about something other than email, a project, or a person I need to meet with tomorrow. This is a feeling I’ve gotten to know too well. Despite the fact I like what I do for work and where I work, I still wonder if I’m doing what I’d like to do for the rest of my life. The answer’s obvious:

No.

Looking back a few years, let’s say 2009. I was at the point of hating my (then) job. I hated it so much that I slunk into a depression that didn’t just affect me during indentured servitude. And I don’t mean depression in the generic way we commonly use it. I mean in the sense I felt burnt out, was irritable, and generally withdrew from people that weren’t close to me. Even some of them felt the effects. It was rough. Really rough.

Eventually, after putting my job search prowess to the test, I secured a new job. It was a defining moment in my career. Nah, it was the defining moment. It meant that I was officially about to start the one I’d been been looking for.

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Hearing “we’d like to make you an offer” was enough to bring a tear, actually a few. It was April of 2010 and the nightmare I’d willingly walked into turned into one of the pictures off my vision board. It was time to start a career in the field I went to school for, working at place where I was more than a dollar sign, and working in a city busting at the seams and bustling with opportunity.

That was a great day. The sun shined a little brighter.

So I packed up my life in Boston and made the move to NYC. Still in disbelief at what I pulled that off, I imagined life would be like over the next few years. I thought about moving up the HR ladder, changing the world one spreadsheet and employee award at a time, and becoming the Director or VP of Human Resources at some world-renown organization. But over time that changed.

From December 2011 until late January 2012, I was focused on passing my Professional in Human Resources exam. I was more pressed to pass that than I was to get a 1400 on my SATs back when there were only 1600 points total. Fortunately, the exam turned out to be easier than expected — despite what I read in forums. Maybe it was luck. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was the way I studied on a bus, in a train, in a car, or in a hallway with Droid, notebook, or practice tests in hands. Yeah, I’ll go with that.

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Anyway, after I passed the exam, I was optimistic. Ready once again to take the HR world by storm. It was also hell season at work, which made it feel all the more heavenly. I rode that wave into the Summer of 2012, then a familiar feeling sent me a text to make sure I didn’t forget her.

I felt burnt out. Again.

What was crazy about this was that I didn’t hate my job. I didn’t dislike my coworkers or the horses they rode in on. I just felt exhausted from the whole “day job” thing. It’s not supposed to feel that way, but sometimes it does. With what felt like an eternity before I finally made that relaxing trip to the Dominican Republic, I lived out what my frat means by Perseverance. Most importantly, mentally.

Perseverance through struggle will teach you some things. It taught me the value of adequate rest, disconnecting from the world we so easily get wrapped up in. It taught me that I can’t expect to go 100 mph 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It also taught me to really reflect and think about what I wanna do. What talents I’d like to use. Where could I best use them. And when I came back from sandy beaches and finite luxury, my outlook was different.

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I tingled at the thought of a new path, to finally put myself in a position to sign my own paychecks in a few years. I’d be working in basketball shorts with an overpriced bluetooth on while watching dolphins out the window. I knew how I’d get there. How much time and money it’d take. I knew where I’d end up.

dolphins

And since then, I’ve been thinking about this new destiny…or destination; either works. More importantly, I’ve thought about where my talents would be best used and my happiness most maximized — even if I have to work for somebody else. In fact, I expect to. It’s all part of the plan.

All this to say I’ve become more conscious and aware of how short life is. So short that you shouldn’t spend it doing something you’re not passionate about to get something you depend on. If you realize you should be doing something else, you need to get to work on doing something else. Make that shit happen.

If you truly want that other thing, in time, you’ll have it. If you’re diligent and focused, you’ll find what you’re looking for. If not, get used to the nightmares.

They’ll be there everynight until you wake up.

Late Nights for Free Days,

slimjackson

Twitter: @slimjackson