My dad always seemed unhappy to me. Actually, miserable is the way I would put it. He was mostly unhappy about his jobs -- all those I can remember. I vividly recall my dad coming home from work, his shoulders hunched over and his head hanging low. Looking exhausted and sad, he would sit at the kitchen table and say to my mom, "Charlie (that's what he called her), I can't take it anymore. I want to quit my job!"
My mom, who was looking after our well- being as best she could, would say, "Just hang in there, Mac. Stick it out. We need the money." I remember thinking, "Yeah, hang in there. We need the money." We didn't have much in those days.
This story repeated itself year after year, as my dad persevered. He had always been an artist but had suppressed his talent most of his life to earn a living for our family, first in the garment industry in New York, then in carpeting in Florida.
The last two years of his career were literally a countdown to retirement at age 65. Then, after some introspection, at age 67, he declared himself an artist. I remember the moment he told me. My eyes got teary as I recalled a beautiful mosaic that had hung in our living room. It was made of thousands of small hand-cut tiles depicting horses pulling carriages through the snow. My dad had made it before I was born.
For a while, my dad was happier than I had ever seen him. He made wood etchings and gave them as gifts. He traveled to places he had never seen. His investments made more money for him than the salary he had earned working full time. I'm glad he had that short period of happiness. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before his health started to decline. Eventually, he could no longer focus on his art. He passed away in 2003, just two years after he retired.
I often wonder what my dad would have been if he had found a way to use his artistic abilities in his work. He had been a good employee; he might have been a happy one, too. He waited until he retired to do what he loved. It was a small time window in the continuum of his life.
My dad's story is part of what inspired me to become a "dream coach" nine years ago and to open my own business.
We often get so caught up in the day-to-day business of living that we forget what we're living for -- our purpose for being. I continue to ground myself in that purpose lest I get lost in the everyday and fail to focus on what's really important. It's vital for all of us to remember why we are here.
That's why I urge people to not wait until they retire to do what they love. We all tend to live as if we have forever, but no one really knows how much time he or she has.
Are you doing what you love to do?
If not, what one step can you take today to move yourself forward?
If you're doing what you love, ask yourself, "What can I do to refocus and enjoy this moment in time?" That will help you to appreciate your work and enjoy your life even more.
Ms. Mayo is president of the Center for Balanced Living , a professional-coaching firm in Roswell, Ga. She's author of the self-published "I Can't Believe I Get Paid To Do This!" (Gold Leaf Publishing, 2004).
From CareerJournal Today – January 2005
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