“What if money were no object?” asks Alan Watt, philosopher and populariser of Eastern philosophy. What would you do if money were no object? So do it, he counsels. I love the sentiment and love the video above, and in part I completely agree with it. Thinking about what you would do if you had no financial constraints is a really good way of figuring out what you really want to do in life.
There are a wealth of books around that advise the same thing; The Escape Manifesto I have reviewed on this blog, Be a Free Range Human, Screw Work Let’s Play. I love these books with their infectious hedonism, and get swept up in the quest for a better, more interesting life.
One criticism that might be levied at these books is the sense of entitlement and self indulgence that are necessary for the pursuit of self actualisation. Not everyone has the privilege of doing what they want in life, so why should we? That’s illogical, says Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life, “We should live like poor people? Why? Poor people sure don’t want to live like poor people – shouldn’t we take their word for it?” We can appreciate our privilege without squandering it.
That said, it should still be noted that Doing What You Want In Life is not the best choice for everyone. The above books evangelise about giving up working for the Man, finding what you love and monetising it. Alan Watts proclaims that you should forget the money. While that is a noble anti consumerist statement, it’s not always practical. Real life involves responsibilities such as caring for loved ones, and after all, providing stability for our children. Besides, if we all tried to pursue our true love in life would anyone be emptying our rubbish or sweeping our streets?
Working for the Man should not be so readily disparaged. Entrepreneurship does not suit everyone, nor does everyone seek the insecure lifestyle of the self employed. For some people the daily drudge of the 9-5 is what enables them to do what they love outside of work; DJing at night, selling handmade goods at weekend craft fairs, or even collecting stamps. A secure wage to fund a hobby. After all, hobbies a activities that we do for fun, and sometimes to pressure to monetise and do them day in day out in order to make enough money to live can diminish the pleasure we gain from them.
So, what is the answer? We’ll it’s different for everyone. Figure out what it is you love (if you don’t know what that is yet, that is a whole other post!), and see if you can translate that into a career. Read the books I’ve linked to above, they’ll help you figure out whether it is fear that is holding you back from doing what you love, or help you overcome what seem like reasons of practicality. But if you really don’t want to, or really can’t go out there and make a living out of doing what you love, don’t beat yourself up. Just make sure make the rest of the time in your life count. If you don’t, as Watts says “You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing, in order to live, that is in order to do things you don’t like to doing, which is stupid.”