When a visitor walks into our main bathroom, it’s probably not hard for them to figure out several things about us. Occasionally there are Lego parts which have been sent adrift by our grandkids, but the most enduring artifact is the metal rack which sits against the wall directly across from our bathroom sink and commode. In that particular rack one will find our razors (some days they go to my cheek; some days Suzanne’s legs), dental and hair-care appliances, the occasional left-behind coffee mug, and a stack of books, trade paperbacks, pulp novels and magazines.
One magazine in that rack hasn’t been opened in several months, but I cannot help but notice an article title printed in large yellow type against the dark background photograph every visit to “the reading room.”
Get Paid To Do The Thing You Love.
The article talks about a dozen outdoor activity-focused businesses; places where climbers, cyclists, runners, skiers, and other fitness enthusiasts can either focus on their passion during part or all of their working day, or bring their dog to work, or get free beer at the end of a ‘tough’ week. Yes, that’s the kind of place I wouldn’t mind being employed. Most of the potential employers are in cities where I wouldn’t mind living, and compensate in a manner which isn’t too shabby – jobs which pay less than what I make right now do have that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ “psychic income” thing going for them.
Pursuing “dream jobs” with companies like Clif Bar, Boston Brewery, Land’s End, etc., requires several salient qualities: Youthful aggression, geographic flexibility, lack of “fear-of-failure,” perhaps even a potential fallback in the event the proverbial stuff strikes spinning fan blades. A person (perhaps single or unmarried) of less than 35 years of age may be more likely the perfect fit for such as adventure, but not so much so for a guy like me. If Suzanne and I didn’t have the house and the dog we could almost drop everything and take a chance of (the remainder of) our lifetime.
I don’t think this is a delayed mid-life crisis; more likely the end-result of a weekend’s worth of “chat and chew” with my stepson and his wife. It’s a “what if I could return a couple of years of responsible decision-making, a mortgage payment and an automobile loan in exchange for a little adventure?” question.
Would I, if the occasion arose, want to coach runners as a vocation? Not really. In the earliest years of my blog I borrowed a Shannon Wheeler “How To Be Happy” comic strip, discussing the calculus between job satisfaction and financial security. Wheeler closed the cartoon with a statement I’ve shamelessly disseminated to friends and clients: “Anything You Get Paid To Do S**ks.”
A recent American Public Media “Marketplace” report on the personal training business reminded me of the many pitfalls of fitness training. The report talked of the risks inherent with taking on a new client who does too much, too soon, at too high an intensity, and subsequently injures or damages themselves and the business of their trainer. In my first year of coaching I learned how simple it was to physically “break” an athlete. Break one athlete and you learn quickly to err on the side of caution when training after that. Besides, the need to earn a living “thing” would force me to be less-than-honest; a quality I’m fortunate to have when I train because my relationship with my athletes is both personal and professional. Because they’re not paying (much) it’s not going to hurt me if they decide to “fire me.” I’m still going to tell them what I think. And, funny as it may seem, the relationship is reciprocal. My dentist is a good friend and a former training partner. Because we are friends he can tell me how to care for my mouth without the fear of hurting my feelings.
Frankly, I think the “do what you love and the money will follow” concept is just that; a concept. Because so few of us can make a living doing what we “love,” we should make certain the time we spend doing it is most enjoyable. How many times have you seen someone taking a call on their cell phone while working out on the treadmill or out on the trail during the weekend long run? Social media? Please. You have to be kidding. Right now? Unless you need to make an emergency call to the police…turn it off. Because everything that you get paid to do…