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For some reason, the question of “Am I selling out ?” has been a regular theme in my office these days. There is always the line between dreaming big and handeling our day to day responsibilities. Many of my clients have families, medical bills, student loans or aging parents which keep them from being able to quit their job and take off after their dream. It is my belief while it would be fantastic to be able to drop everything and single mindedly pursue working happier we need to also balance the other priorities and values in our lives.
I had a client who came to me because she didn’t enjoy her job–it was ok but not perfectly fitted for her. Basically she was bored and uninspired. However, it did bring home a decent paycheck, allowed her some flexibility and enabled her to provide for her family and have time to spend with them when needed. When she came into my office one of the first things we did was look at her values. She was married and had 3 children one of whom was getting ready to head off to college. Not surprisingly family, financial security, and personal development were in her top three values. She had a lot of anxiety and fear around leaving her job and losing the security. From the very first session we talked about how the beauty of her situation was that she had time to figure out what to do next. We could face her fears in baby steps. Because she wan’t miserable or at risk of losing her job she could take the next 3-5 years to establish and plan her next steps. We figured out that she might want to go back to school for a different degree and we started laying out an easy practical way to explore schools/financial aid and began formulating a 10 year plan. However, each time she entered my office she was borderline panicked about figuring it out, making the right choice and not ‘selling out.’ Somewhere along the line she convinced herself that if she didn’t make the choice ‘right now’ she would be selling out. She kept saying “I don’t want to sell out but I want to provide for my kids and have time with my family”.
The point of this entire–figure out what makes your heart sing, do what you love, work happier lifestyle is simply to live happier. For some, that means working a job that is ‘good enough’ while you search for another more meaningful job at some point in the future. For others, it means quitting your job with nothing and then figuring it out. There is no selling out unless you are choosing to stay stuck, to not explore, question or have curiosity. My definition of selling out is when we give up on ourselves and our dreams. Selling out is saying “all I deserve is good enough”, or convincing yourself good enough is ok forever.
Life is full of choices and limitations but that doesn’t mean we need to give up on our dreams. It also doesn’t mean that we need to be accomplishing all of our dreams right now. In my opinion, the point of living happier is to be the best you possible–if that means working a ‘so-so’ job because you need the health benefits while you figure out what’s next rock on. If that means you take a part time retail job while you pursue a different degree–go for it!
Just because you have different priorities and values in your life doesn’t mean you are selling out. Selling out is letting those priorities become long term distractions/excuses and road blocks. Working Happier is recognizing what our priorities are and then figuring out how to work with them in building a life that makes us happier.
What do you think? What is your definition of selling out? How do you know when you are selling out?