By Kevin Kilgarriff
What do Bon Jovi, No Doubt and some 80’s band called Talk Talk have in common? Well, aside from the fact that they all used enough product in their hair to have their own hole in the ozone layer named after them, they also all recorded songs called “It’s My Life”. Ok, No Doubt’s version was just a remake of the Talk Talk original, which can be seen below if you want a little throwback action.
I still say Gwen does it better. I mean if your video has giraffes in it, the remake is automatically better. But regardless, they all touched on the same important point – we are in charge of our own lives, and nobody else.
We’ve all encountered people that try to embed ideas into our heads of what we should be doing with our lives. Maybe you’ve been told that you’re such an amazing athlete that you should try to play professionally. Maybe you’re always cracking up your friends and they tell you that you should try stand-up comedy. Or maybe your family always loved the way you sing walking around the house and would always say that you should be a sing in a band.
Or maybe the opposite has happened! Maybe you’ve been told that you suck at singing and that you should never sing Springsteen’s Born To Run on Karaoke night after downing seven Lagers again. (This actually happened to…you know…a friend of mine).
Sometimes these people are sincere and just trying to help you find a way through life. Sometimes they’re blowing smoke up your ass or are out to fulfill some freaky need to stop people from being happy. It’s not always easy to tell the difference though, which is why it’s up to YOU to make the ultimate decision in the end.
But more importantly, you need to decide what your passion is! Do you know what you want to do with your entire life? The truth is that not many people ever know exactly what they want to do early enough for society to tell us that we need to choose. By the time we go to college and need to choose a major, we barely have enough life experience under our belt to know what we actually want to do for the next fifty years.
Colleges are filled with people who pick majors based on what they’ve seen on TV, because something sounds cool, or because they know it will get them a job that pays well. But will the job they get make them happy? They won’t know until they get there! And by that point they’veinvested so much time and money that they don’t want to jump ship if they aren’t happy right away. Then they get stuck in a rut and the next thing they know they’re stuck in a job they hate, and they have four mouths to feed at home, so they can’t just quit. Plus they need to save money to send their kids to college so that they can pick a major that they know nothing about and end up in a job they hate.
Either that or they end up saying, “screw it!” and fall in with a failing fraternity, kill a horse, crash the homecoming parade and get kicked out of school. This very real possibility is tragically outlined in the documentary “Animal House”. Don’t even TRY to tell me that’s not a true story.
“Seven years of college down the drain.”
This is a serious problem though! Forbes recently ran an article stating that unhappy workers in the workforce today outnumber happy workers two to one. For every person that is happy in their job, there’s another two people that are possibly not sure if they’re doing what they want with they’re life and may not be following their passion.
It makes sense then that companies find it so important to add perks for their employees. If they don’t offer a fully stocked kitchen, flex time, a game room, or any of the dozens of other perks available at different companies, they run risk of their employees realizing that they’re unhappy and leaving to, God forbid, follow their passions! Google has a friggin’ slide and a fire pole in its office! A FIRE POLE! If I hated my job enough to want to leave, I might suck it up if I got to go down a fire pole every day without the added danger of having to race to a fire every time I use it.
“Hmmm…maybe I’d better check with Wilkins down on three…again.”
But I digress (as I so often have to do). It’s not easy to follow your passion. If art is your passion, you may harbor dreams about marching into your boss’ office and telling him that you can’t take on that new account because you’re quitting so that you can open your own art gallery. That’s much easier said than done of course. And maybe you nearly opened that art gallery years ago, but stopped short because you weren’t sure about yourself or didn’t feel you’d make enough money. So you put it off and took another path, putting that dream on the backburner of a very large stovetop. It’s not uncommon.
I think that if you ask most people whether or not they followed their passion in life, the answer will probably be no. Most people follow the path that will lead to a stable life for them and their family. And that is 150% completely admirable. Thinking of others, instead of yourself, when they’re relying on you is one of the most precious gifts one can give. You’re giving the gift of yourself. You’re giving up your dreams so that they can help other people achieve theirs.
I can’t stress enough that there is nothing wrong with “doing the responsible thing”. But ultimately these people will spend their lives thinking about what might have been. Maybe they people promise themselves that when the time is right, after the kids are off to college and their finances are set in place, then they’ll retire from that software company and teach piano for a living, or write that book, or start making tables. But at what cost? I’ve written about living in the Now. The only moment we are guaranteed in this life is this moment that we’re living right now. There is no certainty in the idea that someone will have the chance to retire and teach piano. So why not take some action now? Do something now to live for yourself!
Again, easier said than done, right? And I’m not saying to march into your boss’ office and tell her you won’t be available to analyze that stack of reports on your desk because you’re quitting so that you can become a chair maker. Don’t quit your day job! Especially if you’ve got people relying on your paycheck. There’s room for both in your life if you want there to be. Some people think that jumping in without a life preserver will force them to learn to swim. But I’m not about to recommend to someone that that’s a good idea…because it’s not. Ever. Ease your way into things on the side if you’re thinking about a career change. Make sure things are stable enough and have a good business plan. Set yourself up to succeed!
But most importantly, make time for it! If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find time in your day to give yourself to it, even if it’s just a short amount of time. So often people don’t follow their passion because they feel they don’t have the time. And I have no doubt that many, many people really have next to no time left to add something else to their schedule. But there will be a time when you reach that breaking point and tell yourself that you absolutely need to take that time to do something for yourself. So examine your life and your days and find that time now! Talk to the other people in your life and ask for help in making that time if necessary. But get your hands on that time! It belongs to you and you get to choose what to do with it.
You don’t have to continue to live a life that you never saw yourself living. You can still follow your passion, and you should! If I can poorly paraphrase Jon Bon Jovi – It’s your life. It’s now or never. And you ain’t gonna’ live forever. You just wanna’ live while you’re alive. It’s…Your…Life.
And this is not only my life, but it’s also my blog, and I can do what I want with it. So I’m going to let Jon Bon Jovi play me out. Because who wouldn’t want to have a big band play them out? Here they are continuing their deal with the devil, which Richie Sambora apparently broke. Thank you, Philly! Goodnight!