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.