Don’t over-romanticize your calling. Do what you love – at whatever level you can

Posted on April 26, 2010


54/365: this is the key
One of my local girlfriends is a professional concert pianist. Well, in my mind, she is.

The fact is, my friend D has incredible talent.  I played for more years than I care to remember, and I never even came close to her level of ability.  I listen to classical pianists on albums, podcasts and the radio – and I think D has what it takes.  I believe her talent rivals any of those (highly talented) famous pianists.  Not only does she have the talent, she has the love.  If there’s a piano in the room, D is walking towards it, sitting at the bench or touching the keys.  When D plays the piano, her face radiates incredible focus – and love.  The piano is part of her essence.

But, what with having a family and wanting to make a decent living and live a reasonable life (what’s with all the reasonableness?), D has decided to stick with her current career as an accountant/financial analyst for a big corporation.  She chose accounting over the piano!!!

Now, one of my challenges in following a calling is that, sometimes, I over-romanticize the process.  Blame my Idealist temperament.  According to my over-romanticized notions of following a calling, once you’ve found your calling, that’s it, everyone get out of the way because that’s what you’ve got to DO.  Do what you love and the money will follow, people!

The problems with my over-romanticizing approach are that:

  • This approach creates unrealistic expectations and high barriers to entry.  If the only way for D to pursue her passion was to jump on the concert pianist path, that would exclude other things in her life that she loves – like spending time with her family or playing volleyball
  • This approach is ridiculously narrow.  There are an infinite number of ways to do what you love, even if you have the talent of a concert pianist.  One of those is to go on tour and enter a bunch of competitions.  Another is to teach.  D’s way is to play the piano as an accompanist for the Richmond Ballet.
  • This approach elevates public recognition over simply doing what you love and connecting with others who share the same passion.

I like D’s approach.  She saw an opportunity to do what she loved and followed it.  She plays every week and connects with people she wouldn’t ordinarily connect with through her job.  She loves what she does, and she excels at it.  And her choice of how to pursue her calling aligns with her values and enables her to live the life she wants.

Bottom line:

  • Do what you love – in the manner makes sense for YOU
  • Don’t wonder IF you can pursue your calling – focus on HOW you can pursue your calling
  • No matter HOW you choose to pursue your calling, even if it’s just for yourself, strive for excellence
  • Ignore the well-meaning friends who try to tell you to do something different than what works 🙂

How about you?  Are you doing what you love?  Romanticized, full-blown lunatic version – or modified to fit your values?   Or something completely different?  Or are you waiting for conditions to become perfect before pursuing your passion?  Are you happy with your choice?

[tweetmeme source=”@amikimtweets” only_single=false]

Posted in: Uncategorized