While my wife and I were at church yesterday, another member of our congregation asked her how her teaching job was going.
“It’s great! But it’s also really stressful.”
To give you an idea of how stressful, she’s a first-year Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Ec) teacher, teaching 4 separate classes, one of which is a full-blown catering class in its first year and she’s writing the curriculum. She’s also a student club sponsor and has to be available for all meetings and events. And she’s dealing with a new administration that favors an autocratic leadership style. Yeah, I basically get to spend zero time with her.
“So it’s great.”
“Well, yeah. It’s great. But it’s also stressful.”
“Well, all I need to know is that it’s great. You don’t have to tell me it’s stressful. Doesn’t that make you feel better?”
“Well, not really. Because then I would just be lying to myself.”
“Well, my job sucks too. But I just keep telling myself it’s great and hopefully it’ll stick one day.”
Sounds like optimism, right? Wrong, it’s stupidity.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m an optimistic guy and I feel that a good dose of optimism is necessary if you want to change anything for the better in your life. I also believe that being content with what you have is an essential virtue. But if I believe hard enough that a flying unicorn fairy is going to come down and sprinkle me with six-pack holy water and it’s going to make me happy, 15 years from now my stomach is still going to be flabby and I’m still going to be unhappy.
Seriously, guys. If you hate doing the things that you spend the majority of your working life doing, don’t expect happiness to come just because you’ve deceived yourself into believing it. You’ve got to build your own happiness. You have to learn to live life on your own terms. If you want to see a change, be that change.
I met a marriage counselor a few months back, and while I was talking to him, he told me a little about his story. After graduating from college, he went to India with the Peace Corps and spent two years raising chickens with Indian villagers. After he came back to the states, he didn’t really know what to do with his life, so he started working as a mechanic. He did that for 10 years and started hating it. Instead of telling himself it was great, he went back to school to get a teaching degree and for the next 20 years he taught high school Auto Mechanics.
When he was in his late 50s, their kids had all moved out and his wife, who had stayed at home their entire marriage, wanted to go to school to become a marriage counselor. At that time, he was again feeling bored and unhappy with his job, so he decided to join her. Five years later, they have their own practice and he loves every minute of it.
What a baller.
Rather than tell himself it’ll all be okay and he’ll just have to deal with a sucky career, he put on his big boy pants and did what he wanted to do. He didn’t make excuses or tell himself it would be too expensive or it would take too much effort. He didn’t wither away in mediocre complacency. He rolled with it and did what he wanted to do, and he didn’t allow himself to fail.
So what’s wrong with the rest of us? Too often, we allow ourselves to become victims of circumstance. Why? Because it’s sooooo easy to play the victim. We wish things were better, but we don’t have enough money, or we have too much debt, or it’s too hard, or whatever other lame sauce thing we have to say. Okay, maybe you do have a lot of debt and you can’t start a business right now. So does that mean your solution is to roll over and waste the rest of your life doing what you hate?
No. That means your solution is to attack your debt like a wild dingo until it’s no longer a threat to your dreams. If you can’t do that yet, is your solution to just keep on living your unhappy life? No. That means your solution is to learn some mad budgeting skillz so you can go all wild dingo on your debt. The same goes for any other obstacle. It’s true that not everyone can immediately leave what they hate to start doing what they love, but everyone has baby steps he or she can take to get there eventually. It’s hard to change, but it’s so worth it. So stop lying to yourself and get on it.
What are you missing out on right now because you’ve been complacent? Do you have an awesome story of kicking your circumstances to the curb?
p.s. Thanks for all those who have shared my stuff lately! Big shout out to:
Lisa Vs. the Loans – Links Lisa Likes 11/4/13
VOSA – VOSA Month in Review: How Automation & Passive Income Made October 2013 a Great Month
Budget for Health – Post-Halloween Blog Carnival
Jana Says – Carnival of Personal Finance: The Netflix Binge Watching Edition