We had drinks Friday night with a friend of ours who has been on a bit of a job roller coaster this past year and is about to start work at the third place in two years. She is a smart, professional woman and the job is a senior sales position at a high-potential startup. But when I asked her if she was excited about starting on Monday she said “No, not really. Mostly nervous. I really want to make sure that this job is the end game for me. I just don’t want to work anymore!”
I was sad for her and as my husband and I walked back to our car we talked about how lucky we are to have work that gives us passion, and purpose, and meaning. Sure, we don’t make a fraction of what our friend will make, nor am I making anything close to what I was making before I left my last job as the VP of Marketing and Product Development for AeroGrow to start The Aquaponic Source. In fact, depending on how you do the accounting it could be less by either one or two entire digits. But I consider myself lucky that I’m not going to work every day waiting for ‘the end game.’ I can’t imagine not working. What would I do – play golf? Not my style. I’d probably end up doing exactly what I’m doing now.
Seth Godin tells a story in his book ‘Tribes’ about being unable to sleep one night while he is at a resort in Jamaica, so he goes to the lobby to do email. A couple strolls by, having obviously been having a little too good of a time that evening. The woman says in a loud whisper ‘Isn’t that sad? That guy comes here on vacation and he’s stuck doing email. He can’t even enjoy his two weeks off.’
In the book, Godin points out that the REAL question was ‘Isn’t it sad that we have a job where we need to spend two weeks avoiding the stuff we have to do fifty weeks of the year?’
He goes on to say ‘It took me a long time to figure out why I was so happy to be checking email in the middle of the night. It had to do with passion. Other than sleeping, there was nothing that I’d rather be doing at that moment – because I’m lucky enough to have a job where I get to make change happen. Think for a moment about the people you know who are engaged, satisfied, eager to get to work. Most of them, I’ll bet, make change. They challenge the status quo and push something forward – something they believe in. Instead of wondering where your next vacation will be, maybe you ought to set up a life that you don’t need to escape from.
Today is Sunday. My day started at 6:00 a.m. replying to emails for two hours, mostly related to the upcoming aquaponics conference. From 9:00 – 10:00 I chatted with a fascinating guy in Germany who is just unveiling a design for a ‘carbon negative’ aquaponics greenhouse. At 10:00 I finally got dressed and went outside to feed the fish. Next I did some final cleanup of our greenhouse before a videographer arrives tonight from San Francisco to create a promotional video for my new aquaponic gardening book, our company and our newest aquaponics system kits. At 11:00 I came back inside, showered, finalized the t-shirt design for the conference and answered some more emails. Then I had lunch, wrote this blog post, and now am going to work on how many of Murray Hallams videos we should order in the next shipment. After this, it’s time to get back to work on the Aquaponics Association Charter. It hasn’t once occurred to me that it is Sunday, so therefore I shouldn’t be ‘working’. It has only occurred to me how lucky I am to enjoy my life’s work so much that it really isn’t work at all. Only passion.