Beyond a Means to an End

If you were raised in a typical western family in a typical western society (and likely these days even if you weren’t), the expectations for how your life will go are pretty typical and generic. You’ll start school at a relatively young age, progress through the grades, and eventually graduate from high school after about a dozen years.

After you graduate from high school, you might attend some form of higher education, like a college or university, or you might go to a trade or technical school. Maybe you’ll land an apprenticeship somewhere. After you finish whatever program it is, you apply for and eventually get an entry-level job at some company. You’ll work your way through the ranks, aspiring for middle management and beyond, until you finally retire and aim to enjoy your golden years before kicking the bucket for good.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of journey and it’s the kind of path that the overwhelming majority of people take, or at least some basic variation of it. And if you like the work that you do and it’s enough to pay for your desired lifestyle, then maybe it really isn’t so bad. But we all know that it doesn’t always work out this way.

For a lot of people, they end up pursuing an education or training in something not because they’re actually interested in it, but because they think it’ll be easy or that it’ll be lucrative. Or maybe they think it’ll be stable and reliable, exactly the kind of career you want to use to form the foundation for raising a family. Right? A job is just a job. Right?

But why can’t a job be more than just a paycheck? Why shouldn’t your livelihood be tied to your passions and interests, something that’ll keep you going not just today and tomorrow, but for years into the future?

I recently watched the documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond on Netflix wherein Jim Carrey recounts his experience playing the late Andy Kaufman in the 1999 movie Man on the Moon. At one point, the interviewer asks Jim about his father. Jim says that he was the funniest man in the room and he was a tremendous saxophonist, but he never really pursued a career on the saxophone, because it would mean uprooting the family to the United States (the Carreys are from Canada) and he didn’t want to do that. So, he took the safe and respectable route and became an accountant.

But that didn’t exactly work out as planned…

As time wore on, it wore him down, you know. It wore him down, and he got a little bit bitter, especially when he lost his job when he was 51. Uh, that really broke him. Not only was he compromising to raise a family, but when you compromise and you fail, it really hurts. It hurts even more than failing at what you love.

We all make sacrifices and compromises, especially when it comes to raising a family. You might forgo heading out to the local pub to catch the big game with your football buddies from college, because you need to take your daughter to her ballet recital. You might opt out of buying a wicked awesome new drone, because your son needs braces. That’s just life.

But when you make those sacrifices and you don’t get the intended benefit, it hurts that much more. You miss out on the big game, but it turns out your daughter’s ballet recital is cancelled anyhow. You skip out on buying a new drone, and your son’s teeth are as crooked as ever after paying for those braces. You can’t even get the consolation prize.

I learned that you can fail at what you don’t love, so you might as well do what you love.

Life is too short to be stuck at some dead end job where you are miserable for 40+ hours every week. Life is too short to be doing work that you hate, just because it keeps the lights on. You should do what makes you happy, so long as you’re responsible about it, and you can end up winning all around.

And truth be told, that’s what the dot com lifestyle can deliver and in spades. You enjoy the ownership of self-guided entrepreneurship, you enjoy the time and location freedom of working online, and you get to do work that is fulfilling and meaningful on your own terms, all while providing the life that your family deserves. And it’s pretty fun too.

Your job is more than a means to an end. What you do for a living should be a part of what makes life worth living in the first place.

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