In Follow Your Dreams, Learning from Legends

As we make our way through The One-Week Job Project by Sean Aiken, I paused to reflect on Sean’s experience at his 37th job as a pizza maker at Sweet Tomatoes in Osterville, MA. Though making pizza may be considered a fairly simple vocation, Sean says of its owners, “Irene and Darren had made a conscious choice to be where they are. For them it was a question not so much of ‘What do I want to do for a living?’ as of ‘What kind of life do I want to live?'”

In addition to the endless supply of pizza at their fingertips (that would be enough for me!), Darren and Irene live a couple minutes from work, make their own hours, connect with people in their community and are home at night to spend time with their family and put their kids to bed. For them, it’s exactly the kind of life they want to live.

Irene and Darren’s philosophy reminded me of some of the interesting, lifestyle-focused people I met in Greece, particularly the jewelry shop owners in Santorini who run their business for half the year and then travel for the other half.

So many of us approach work with the “What do I want to do for a living?” mindset, rather than first determining what kind of life we want to lead. I know I did. When I first graduated from college, pharmaceutical sales seemed like as good a job as any. Impressive company, cushy salary, sweet benefits…what else could one want?

A lot I soon learned.

When I took that job, there were many things I never factored into my happiness equation, like the long commute, the workload that required my attention well into the evening, the boredom that comes with delivering the same message over and over all day long, the rejection, the lack of creativity, and the constant pressure to exceed quotas. In hindsight, it’s not surprising that after three years the money stopped being enough.

Stepping away from that job was hard at first, because I was emulating an image of success that was in line with what I thought society expected of me. But as Sean points out, what matters most is that we continue to pursue our passion regardless of what others think. In the end, you’re the one who has to live the life you’ve chosen.

Conversation Starter: How do you balance work and lifestyle?

Read along! This month we’re reading The One-Week Job Project by Sean Aiken.

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  • S.B.

    Work versus lifestyle – it is a choice. Many of us believe that we don’t have control over our work life and therefore let it control the majority of our time. I, however, am a firm believer that you can make decisions upfront on how to tailor your life so that you can have an equal balance. You may have to make sacrifices in life like earning less money and not getting promoted as quickly but the balance in your life and the happiness that comes from that is worth so much more. One way that I work on achieveing a true balance is by setting short and long term goals. This includes both minor tasks like saving money and dedicating time on the weekend to me and longer term objectives such as finding investments that provide passive income (that way I don’t have to work as much).

    • Erika Liodice

      Good philosophy, S.B.! Sounds like you’ve got a great balance working for yourself!


  • Suzanne

    Okay, now I want to read this book!

  • roughdraftwriter

    Hi – I just came across your blog and am enjoying your posts! This one in particular is meaningful to me because I’ve just recently started asking myself “What kind of life do I want to live?”

    I have a career I’m not crazy about at the moment, however, if I’m willing to sacrifice stability and live a little bit by the seat of my pants, I can have a freelance career that will hopefully still pay the bills while allowing me more time in my life to do the things I AM crazy about. So while I’m not thrilled with what I’m doing, I’m appreciative of the fact that at the moment it’s allowing me the luxury of having enough time to pursue my dream of writing a book.

    Ideally, what I want to do for a living would be part of the life I want to live, but I figure it takes one step at a time. 🙂 I’ll get there someday.


    • Erika Liodice

      Hi Corey,
      Thanks for stopping by; glad you found us! It sounds like you’ve taken a huge step in the right direction by asking yourself what kind of life you want to live and then taking action towards making that vision a reality. Building a lifestyle can take a lot of time and hard work up front, but I believe that good things will come to those who put forth the effort.

      Good luck with your writing dream! I hope you’ll stop back and visit us again.


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