Talking with a dear friend the other day, she was talking about her job.
“I know I should be more ambitious, but I love having my job, and not owning my own business. I feel a bit guilty sometimes that I am not pushing myself more, not working for myself, not killing it in some socially-acceptable vocation. But I just genuinely enjoy going to my very unfashionable, orderly job, and doing it well, then going home”
I LOVE hearing this, that she is happy in what she does every day. But it piqued my interest, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What’s with feeling guilty for not doing more? Or feeling inadequate for not being entrepreneurial? What makes us feel like that?
Another colleague has been thinking about setting up a business. She is currently a full-time working mother of 4. She has moved country in the last few years, taken up a new sport, has an active social life, keeps chickens, and a loving circle of deep connections. She asked for advice on setting up her business from a friend.
“You have been playing small all your life. About time you stepped up and made something of yourself!”
I was flabbergasted that all the other elements of her life, her rich connections, her talents, were so quickly set aside, and her life described as small. It took a few minutes with her to reorient her thinking.
What’s the point of life? I asked. What are we going to think about, when we know we are on the final chapter? What matters most of all?
Every philosophy, or religion, or blogger in the world will have a slightly different take on this. But they all have some parts in common. Having connection. Being loved. Loving someone back deeply. If you have these things, you are not playing small in life. If you have these you have a rock solid foundation on which to build.
Then the next layer is purpose. We need to feel part of something meaningful. That there is a point on getting out of bed in the morning. That we are living our life’s potential.
If you’re not waking up feeling good about what your day is going to bring. If you feel like something is missing, or if you feel like the people around you, or your current career are bringing you down, then you need to reassess things. If you have a nagging dream that’s been popping up for years, and never acted on it (I always knew I was going to be a chef someday!), or if you feel like you are in a day-to-day grind, then you need to take stock. If you don’t care (in your heart) about what you are doing each day, then maybe it is time to stretch yourself, and start playing bigger.
But if you already love what you do, then no – you don’t need to stretch if you don’t want to. You can take time to smell the roses, and enjoy the ride.
You don’t need to throw away your job, if it genuinely feels good. There is no rule book, no way you are ‘supposed’ to be living this life. Different strokes and all. We all have different personalities, different circumstances, different desires.
Maybe staying in your 9-5 job happily gives you the steady foundation you need to live your best life. Or maybe it is holding you back. Maybe giving 90% of your energy to your business feels like exactly the right thing for you. Or maybe that feels not enough. Maybe staying at home and caring for your elderly mother makes you feel complete. Maybe having the time to growing vegetables is a non-negotiable for you. Or maybe having a million dollars in the bank is.
There is no right answer.
But if what you are doing feels good, and feels right for you, then don’t feel guilty and don’t apologise. Most importantly don’t feel inadequate for not fitting the mould. And if you feel like your life is in alignment with what you want, then don’t let anyone tell you you’re playing small.