For those of you who don't know, I announced on June 2 that I was going on afour day media fast. This is the first post in a series of posts about what I learned from that experience.
One of the things that Tim Ferriss mentions in the inspiration to this media fast, the Four Hour Work Week, is how so many people are afraid to try anything new or different simply because they may end up not liking the new thing after all.People fear career change because they wonder if they may not like their new career after all.
I went through this.
I studied acting in college.Performing is my passion.There’s nothing like standing on a stage and pouring your heart and soul into a performance.Iperformed professionallyfor a couple of years and accumulated some experience.Right around December of 2006, I hit a wall.Financially, I was broke.Emotionally, I was exhausted.Performing takes its toll and when you don’t get any sort of substantial financial compensation, you’re forced to take all sorts of odd jobs to make things meet.I was working something like 60 hours a week and I didn’t even have health insurance.This was a problem, since my wife has been sick for a number of years.
Without realizing it, I started looking for a way out.
It took a while for me to take that way out.I continued to perform and direct full time throughout the next 8 months or so, and continued to take odd jobs as they came along.In a flurry of activity, we left Utah, traveled on a shoe-string budget for the Summer, ended up in Portland, and I found a full time job with regular day time hours and benefits.
A few months after I started working I started having doubts.I had never seen myself in the corporate world and here I was, a cubicle jockey.I was performing well.The company started talking about promoting me after three months and while I was smiling and saying, “Yeah, I’d love a promotion,” the whole time I was thinking, “What am I doing?This isn’t what I studied.This isn’t what I want to do with the rest of my life!”I talked with my wife about it, we prayed and fasted to know what to do, and wonderful woman that she is, she told me that she was willing to support me whatever I decided.
For me, the choice was either quit the job and go back to the unhappy, exhausted, broke lifestyle that I was living before, or continue at this job, which was fun and financially very rewarding, but not my true passion.I kept wondering if I wasn’t giving up a little bit of my soul.
So, what does this have to do with my media fast?
Obviously, I decided to stay at the job.They promoted me about six weeks ago.I’m now a sales manager.Even as I was training for the new position I kept wondering if I was making the right decision.I never came to a resolution, however.I’d get home from work and if I didn’t have anything to do, I would play video games, watch TV, or listen to music.I didn’t want to deal with my situation.
I knew that I had to, however.So I turned it all off for four days.I realized during that time, that I had to make a decision as to what I was going to do.I couldn’t keep beating myself up over it.You can’t fight an internal battle and still win the external battles that rage every day.
I pondered back and forth and after some time I remembered what Tim Ferris said about putting things on pause.Just because I was walking away from the professional performing career didn’t mean that I couldn’t go back to it.In all honesty, it’s pretty easy to become a starving artist.I am having fun at my new job, I realized, and I’m able to do things that I never thought I would be able to do – like help my wife get a pacemaker, go on a long vacation, or possibly buy a home.I started realizing that I wasn’t seeing all of the possibilities inherent in my new life, because I was still clinging to the old way of doing and seeing things.
Now, I recognize that it’s far more common for people to give up business careers and pursue artistic or non-profit work – at least, that’s the stereotype.I know a few of you will tell that I’m giving up my passion, but here’s the thing: I know I can go back to it.
A few years ago I did a performance with a few older guys who told me that they wished that they had never left the theatre.They were middle aged, pudgy, and all had health problems.They were just getting back into performing and they all talked about how they envied me.It was funny because I sat there envying them.Not for their fancy cars, nice clothes, or big paychecks, but because they had something that I had never experienced: stability.
In the end, it’s all about what makes you happy, what your bliss is.Having grown up in a poor family with severely limited resources, I have never known what financial stability was like.I’m starting to experience it now, and I think I like it.It’s a new experience that is bringing me the same amount of thrill as standing on stage – at least for now – and I know that it’s my decision to do this, and I’m okay with that.