My Big Choice: Following my Calling or Making a Living?
Today is the first day following my biggest choice in life, or so my mind thinks. I made the choice to give up a lucrative job as a Chief Operating Officer & Life Coach at a top Wealth Management firm in the country to pursue my calling to empower people make better choices in life.
Was it easy? Not at all. Was it simple? Absolutely, once I gained clarity.
Let me share my story in the hope that my journey of deliberation can shed some light on the hidden forces that influence our choices. For over ten years now, my heart has been drawn towards helping people deal with their challenges in life and work. So, I helped as many as I could, given the demands of my work during the evenings and weekends.
The traditional metrics for success, in my opinion, seem to measure purely how well you take care of yourself and your family. This is something that I have struggled with for years. I kept asking myself this question, “If the successful people only took care of themselves and their own families, how will that ever make the world a better place? ” The traditional definition of success needed be reframed in my mind. It happened last year, soon after I turned 50. It became clear to me that if I kept waiting for some external signal to help me transform, I may be dead by then. I couldn’t wait any longer, it had to happen soon.
I had been too chicken for years to take the plunge and commit fully to my calling as I could not see myself making a good living doing it. What I realized later was that my indecision was only hurting my family as they were the ones missing out the most in this situation. So, I had to really get clear about what really matters in life.
Many of us believe that confidence is what we need to make a choice. I have now learned that it is clarity that precedes confidence. With clarity comes confidence. If you feel confident without clarity, beware, most likely it is blind confidence. Blind confidence is dangerous, since it usually stems from our ego, greed or fear.
Clarity is especially important in addressing dilemmas. The dictionary defines a dilemma as a usually undesirable or unpleasant choice, a problem involving a difficult choice, any difficult or perplexing situation or problem.
Clarity came to me in two ways. First, from the number of emails and phone calls that I keep receiving from readers of my book, Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing Success and true Happiness, who claim that it has changed their lives. I had never expected to receive such emails, especially at the rate of about one a month. These emails and phone calls started to make me feel as though I had given birth to a child and abandoned it by not nurturing it and sharing it widely with others. I could not do the nationwide book tours that typical authors do with a full-time executive position. While these positive reviews and testimonials only seemed to confuse the situation further, it ultimately helped me take the plunge when supported by a second request from my wife.
In May last year, she asked me gently, “The children are getting older and they need your guidance. I am doing everything I can, but they need more of your time and attention.” Since my wife never asks for much, I try to take her requests seriously. This request hit me like a two-by-four. Here I am dedicated to helping others, while I am ignoring my own family. We sometimes get too caught up in our passion that we lose our perspective of the bigger picture. Now, the choice became ultra clear — I needed to make time, but the question remained, “How?”
The complexity grew when I tried to satisfy all the parties I cared deeply about. My employer John Waldron and the team at Waldron Wealth Management who I feel more like my extended family, my own family, and the people who I committed to helping.
How could I buy time to follow my calling without hurting any of the above while making a living? Too many times, we reduce our choices to a ‘either/or’ type of choice. I believe in the “Third Choice.” If you are not familiar with it, you can read my post from October 2011 by clicking here. By collaborating with all the parties involved and understanding their perspective, we came up with a way that I can help the company through a period of time that will also help me gain a better footing, buy time to spend with my family and my community of fellow explorers. If you take the time to reflect and look sincerely for the proverbial “Third Choice,” one that satisfies the “needs” not “wants” of all parties concerned, I am confident that you can find a solution that shifts the ‘or’ in the choice to an ‘and.’
Plunging into my calling blindly would not only have left my company in a bind, but also potentially jeopardized my family and eventually the very people who I wanted to help. I always use and love the “Oxygen Mask” analogy. If you are not familiar with that, please pay attention the next time you fly. Click here to read a post on the topic by Gail Lynne Goodwin, founder of InspireMeToday.com.
So with great clarity, calmness and faith supported by my family, my friend John Waldron, my readers, my fellow explorers and the world at large, I step into the next phase of my life committed to helping the busy and the restless make better choices in life. I cannot be more thankful to all those who have supported me in the past and continue to support me in this endeavor.
Thank you again for helping me transform from my fear of making a living to living my calling.
With much gratitude,