I’m not here to sell things. That’s what other people do, I’m creating them. If it doesn’t work out, I’m sorry; I’m just doing what I do. You hired me to do what I do, not what you do. As long as people don’t tell me what to do, there will be no problem. Neil Young after he was accused by Geffen Records of making “unrepresentative music”.
When I officially quit music 12 or so years ago (quitting meaning, I stopped touring and recording), I spent the first year after in a dense fog. My dream of becoming a rock star after so many years of sleeping on couches and a ramen noodle starvation diet had officially been dashed when I turned the ripe old age of 30. One of my bandmates also decided to do something different.
I got into marketing online. He got into nursing.
Our reasoning behind doing this were different. When I put away the guitar, I put it away. I decided I was going to figure out something else but I wanted to do it on my own terms. I had decided, somewhat foolishly, that I wasn’t going to do what everyone else does. This eventually led me to what I do today.
In contrast, my buddy went into nursing because he felt like it was a good paying career that would eventually lead him to being able to buy the music gear he wanted to continue playing music.
Fast forward 10 years and he hates his job to the point where he recently quit a traveling nurse gig that was paying him 6 figures and replaced it with a part time nursing job to pay the bills.
Now there is nothing wrong with this. My parents always told me that I needed a “back up plan”…which happened to be working for someone else. That was the part I just couldn’t swallow though.
And most of the world doesn’t wake up one day and say that they are going to work for themselves. But considering how short life is…and the percentage of people who are unhappy with their jobs, I have to wonder why on earth more people don’t figure out what they truly want to do and then start the process of actually doing it.
It shouldn’t be about the money either.
It hardly ever is. And if that is what is driving you, you are on the road to being sorely disappointed. Touching other people’s lives in a profound way. That is truly what life is about. But it doesn’t mean that you have to be Mother Teresa. It simply means that people and / or community have to fit into the equation.
That was my buddy’s problem. He decided that rather than do what he loved, he was going to commit to something that could pay him the money he thought he needed to do what he wanted to do.
In other words, it was a cart in front of the horse thinking. Rather than say hey, I really want to do music and therefore, my career should have something to do with music, he went in the other direction. His career became nursing. Everything else neatly fell under the hobby category.
And when he made the money and bought the stuff he thought he needed, he was just left with a pile of things and no time to actually realistically pursue it.
I think that this is what I admire about people like Neil Young. He could have played it safe and continued to do what worked in the past, but instead he charged ahead and explored new terrain. And when his record company got mad because they felt like he wasn’t doing what they thought he would do, he told them basically to pound dirt and took a pay cut.
In essence, he was going to do what he does on his own terms. Or, he wasn’t going to let other people’s terms dictate his life path.
Is your path your chosen path?
The difference between myself and my former bandmate was that ultimately, I was playing music for the wrong reason (I wanted fame and fortune). Moving on was easier when I realized that, in many ways, I was treating music the same as people who get into jobs they hate ; for the cash or the prestige.
My friend, on the other hand, will probably die with some sort of instrument close by. And in a sense, that is a tragic thing because, for whatever reason, he works not to fulfill himself daily but to be able to hope that eventually he will be able to do the things he loves. He does what everyone else does.
I think that the majority of people don’t think the way I do. I think that for a large segment of the population it isn’t about making work fun ; it’s about getting through work so you can do fun stuff afterward.
But I know that you aren’t like them. Chances are you are either entrepreneurial in spirit and want to start a business or just plain crazy. Either way, I think you should take a step back and look at where you are right this very moment in comparison to where you want to be.
Are you doing the things you need to do so that you can live life on your own terms (or in the very least, doing it because you enjoy it?)
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