Don’t Mistake Doing What You Love With Doing What’s Important

A couple weeks ago, my wife texted me, “Don’t forget to buy Megamillions tickets!:)”

Upon learning of the $656 million jackpot, we couldn’t help ourselves from fantasizing about a potential windfall. We’d quit our jobs. Pursue our dreams. Finally, we’d do what we loved.

When the lottery numbers were drawn, ours, of course, did not come up.

I like my job, but other creative passions run deep that I don’t have the luxury of pursuing. There are bills to pay, after all. And tuitions. And the ever-looming threat of retirement. Providing financial security is important to my family.

But facing the other side of fifty, I often find myself thinking hard about the choices stacked up against the years I have left. I wonder, what would it be like to run full throttle towards the things I really love doing – writing, for instance, or other creative endeavors?

Why not risk it all and pursue what I love? Isn’t that what God wants for me?

I devised a little matrix in my head, with “What’s Important” on the vertical axis, and “What I Want to Do” on the horizontal, and started plotting my activities to see where they landed on the different quadrants. I quickly realized that doing too much of what I like may not necessarily be the most important thing in the long range for my family, for my future.

It’s one thing to dabble (which I do), but my little vocational fantasies could hardly replace my income. Pursuing one’s creative dreams may sound glamorous, but the reality is that the top of the economic pyramid for those in the arts is so tiny, with the vast majority of talented people planted firmly at the lower-echelon base.

The difference between doing what’s important and doing what you want is that the important stuff is usually harder. It’s not so much fun. It won’t generally fulfill all of your deepest personal longings. Working a boring job to provide your family with financial security often gets a bad rap from motivational wonks who would have us drop everything to pursue our dreams, but I believe there’s something valiant, even noble about it.

You can finish reading this over at The High Calling by clicking HERE.

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About J.B. Wood
  • http://www.justsaytheword.wordpress.com nancy

    -working to provide for needs is….well, necessary.

    -passion is self-centered, and so not a good choice for leader.

    -what is important. i think we have a clue…but, that’s the real work.

  • http://www.redletterbelievers.com David Rupert

    There is a huge gap between what we want to do and what we are doing. That’s the stuff of dreams and it doesnt bother me that the gap, the distance is so big.

  • kara@thechuppies

    I really appreciate this one…

  • http://toucanic.wordpress.com DSchmidt

    Thanks for this exploration of the nobility of routine work. When you speak of saving music for the weekend, I wonder about easing off a bit on what that routine works gets from us–so that there is a little more time and energy for other interests.

  • Pingback: Consideration of the writing life « Toucanic


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