Dear Son: On Work-Life Balance and Finding Your Passion in Life
I continue to write these "Dear Son" posts, partly as therapy for me but also to serve as an online diary to my boys. I have two boys; one is soon-to-be 9 years old and my oldest is staring down 16 in just a few days. Yes, we talk about things like this at dinner time, in the car and in other circumstances, but I'm not always sure the lessons are sinking in. I mostly get "whatever, dad" and eye-rolling in response.
In this "Dear Son" letter, a big lesson I've learned over the years that I hope to pass on is how important it is for us to find our passion. As a child, especially a teenager, the world seems to revolve around you - at least in your mind. It's important to grow past that and realize it's not always about you and it's important that you find your passion in life. Work will be an important part of life, no doubt. But if you don't love what you do, retirement can feel an eternity away at any age.
Dear Son: Find Your Passion In Life
A EUROPEAN ADVENTURE HELPED ME REALIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY
It's not really all that important what you are passionate about, it's more important that you're passionate about something.
The year was 1994 and I had just graduated from high school. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Germany for a few months after graduation but before my college year began.
My trip was funded mostly by the generosity of my dad and from a social security payment after the passing of my mom.
I could have pissed this money away on worthless purchases, but luckily I had the sense to spend it on something that would pay dividends for years to come - an expanded world view that went beyond my mostly rural Iowa upbringing.
My trip to Europe meant many weeks away from my family and friends in a land where I barely spoke the language and knew no one. My time abroad helped me realize how important my upcoming university education would be and it helped me to focus on that achievement.
Passion Comes in Many Forms
IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU DO, WHAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU ENJOY IT
I'm not convinced there really is such a thing as work-life balance, but I do think there's a huge difference between working to live and living to work.
My first job was at the age of 15 where I worked for a summer detasseling corn in the fields of northern Iowa. It was hard work, but I was on a mission to save for my first car.
I worked all through high school and college, until I graduated with my bachelor's degree. I was lucky in that I was able to start working my first "real job" immediately after graduation. My degree was in political science and business administration, but my career took a different path.
A few years into my degree, I realized I actually didn't want to work for the State Department as a diplomat. Instead, I found my personal passion in computers.
My passion grew out of my love for video gaming, believe it or not. I definitely played my fair share of video games as a teen and early 20-something. But it grew beyond playing into building my own computers to squeeze every ounce of performance I could out of them.
My hobby grew into a career, mostly on accident, but I pursued my passion and turned it into something I ultimately loved.
I work to live, not live to work. Find what you are passionate about and I'm confident you'll find a way to make a living from it somehow.