In life I view things I do with four goggles. Things I love, but that don’t love me. Things that I love, and love me back. Things that I don’t love, but love me. And things that I hate, and hate me back. The trick to a happy life is to recognise the first, and sadly avoid. Jump with both feet into the second. Be careful with the third. Such things can be good for you or at a minimum provide a necessity, but deserve kindness if you avoid. Stay away from the fourth with all your might.
This goes for all facets of life, but is particularly true for work. Many people work, I know, for money. The job loves you, but you hate it. Sometimes a necessity, but if you can swing it, find the job you love that loves you in return. Heaven on earth is work you honestly like doing, are good at, and pays well.
I consider myself fairly blessed to have that. With the exception of a period of time under a boss I actively hated, I’ve enjoyed my career. I think I do well at it, and its been pretty lucrative. To be honest, it wasn’t the career I thought I’d be in when I was at school. I saw myself in academia once I got over the boyish infatuation with being a farmer or a pilot or a fireman. I’d always intended to go back to it, but in my last year of university got a job offer that was a bit too good. Once in, I found I liked the work.
Still, I had a chance to change course. I just posted the story of that time in my life when I lost someone. That’s life changing in many ways. After it happened, I took stock. I went travelling for a year and decided what to do with my life. Being a logical sort I took some time with an industrial psychologist and delved into what I was good at, as well as what I was temperamentally suited to. Sure enough I’d ended in a profession that was good for me. It loved me, and I’d found I loved it. So, bar going back for a graduate degree to hone my skills, I’ve stayed where I was.
This is a long preamble to answer Z’s question, “If you were to learn a new craft or skill, what would it be? And do you think you actually will give it a go, or is it a pipe dream?”
That time also allowed me to explore other options. Things I’d both thought about, and a few I hadn’t. Other than staying in what I was doing, three other careers where laid out before me; academia, law, and architecture. All where things I’d thought about.
Law I rejected as at that point I was almost 30 and that’s a bit late to make that jump. It would have taken a good number of years to retrain before I even started out at the bottom rung. That left academia and architecture. The thing was, neither paid particularly well unless you where very very lucky. So, the logician in me said stay with what I do. Oddly enough, this grated a bit at the time, it seemed the easy choice and I never was fond of easy choices.
Yet I did, and to reference another question I have no real regrets about it. That choice brought me to London, which I love, allowed me to meet a new woman in my life, whom I love, and start a family, which I have no choice but to love absolutely. My life is just fine at the moment.
However, the way I dealt with not making the difficult choice was to very clearly set myself a goal. Do this career, the easy option, do it well and make a lot of money. Retire early and then switch tracks, go and do another thing I’d love. That is still the plan.
Assuming life carrys on as it is now, and I’ll get there. Things could go horribly wrong, life can’t be fully planned, but it could also go right. If it does, then sometime in my 50s I’ll step back. Walk away from the high powered career and do something completely different. I don’t know which I’ll chose yet, either retrain in architecture, or go back to uni and do a degree in something like history or philosophy. I’ll retire into gentle academia and the simple pleasure of learning for the sole benefit of learning. I may never actually design and build a building, or write the definitive history of something, but then again I just might. If I do, it will because I want to, not because I have to.
It is achievable, like any good goal should be, but not certain, like any good goal should be. We shall just have to see…