I wrote a few posts about my sabbatical and teaching the Art of Living program in the past one year. I continue to get one off requests from folks to write more about the break and most of the questions asked and unasked are related to financial security and as to how I am managing the same. Today morning I came across Philip Broughton’s blog via a post of Facebook. I read his post on “Finding my way” and then read it again and again and again, and then took a printout and underlined portions of it. Anyone with a passion for following his/her dreams should read this. There are several passages in the post that resonate deeply with me and I find so many similarities in what he writes and what I experienced. Marking a few sentences here, but do head over to his blog and read the complete post. I am sure it will answer some of your questions.
I wanted to be rewarded for my uniqueness, not for my ability to conform.
But it’s hard to hold onto that vision when you’re under pressure, when everyone around you says that with your background and qualifications, you should be doing a certain kind of work, when you have bills to pay and friends and family who unwittingly burden you with their own expectations.
Insecurity and freedom are not that far from each other. Some days I felt the former so strongly I would start looking for salaried employment. Others, I felt the freedom and knew I wanted nothing else. There were days when I’d be in a library at 11 in the morning, writing or researching and feeling extraordinarily happy. Other days, I was worried sick about money and the future. Every day I didn’t have a regular job was both a commitment to a freer life and a rejection of what most people regard as security.
There was a professor at Harvard Business School called Joseph Lassiter who gave us some great advice on entrepreneurship. He said that it wasn’t a choice of career, but a choice of life and you needed to think about setting your whole life up to give yourself even a shot at succeeding.
Explain what you are doing to the people who are most important to you. Tell them not just what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it. Why it’s important to you to do this kind of work. Why you are ready to take these risks. Don’t assume everyone will understand when you take a less conventional path.
You want the reward of fulfilling work, work which is expressive of who you are. Work which rewards your uniqueness not your ability to conform. Explain this to yourself and to others. Write it down.
Whenever you take a risk in life, whether anticipated or not, the audience around you seems to be shouting two things. One half is screaming “don’t”. The other is shouting “live the dream”, “do what you love”. Neither are being very helpful.
Paralyzing fear and blind optimism aren’t the only alternatives. There is a route through the middle which recognizes that with risk comes reward, that insecurity is uncomfortable, but then so is going to the office on someone else’s behalf. There’s no universal answer here, just a personal route to navigating between these two feelings, which can only be found by setting sail in the first place.