I had an opportunity to speak for a national convention on the topic of "Is the Light On In Your Eyes?" The conference theme was "Reflections on Success" and I started by saying many of us spend more time reflecting on what movie to watch this weekend than on what we're going to do with the rest of our life. Sound familiar?
Many of the people in the audience were successful entrepreneurs who have so many different projects and people counting on them, they feel they can't take time off. Many work 60-70 hour weeks and haven't taken a vacation for years. Some are ready to retire, but can't imagine what they're going to do NEXT that could be as satisfying and productive as what they're currently doing.
I told them we were going to spend the next ninety minutes reflecting on what's working, what's not and what we're going to do about it NEXT. I shared a quiz that can help anyone figure out in 4 minutes what's supporting their happiness, what's sabotaging it.
One of the options we talked about is how to make our passion - what puts the light on in our eyes - part of our profession. Many people told me they're too "busy" to do the hobbies that used to bring them joy. I told them, they can COMBINE their recreation WITH their work in a win-win way - instead of seeing them as being mutually exclusive.
Here's what I mean.
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of sharing breakfast with Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, the largest networking organization in the world. After hearing about my full calendar of #speaking, #consulting and #traveling, he asked, "What do you do for fun?"
Long pause. I finally dug deep and came up with "I walk my dog around the lake."
Please don't get me wrong. I love what I do and I am grateful to have the opportunity to do work with smart talented people who are making a positive difference in the world ... it's just that I was going 24/7.
That conversation and several other wake-up calls motivated me to set out on a Year by the Water. I didn't abandon my business ... I just took it on the road. As James Taylor said when he took a break from touring to compose new lyrics and produce a new album; "I didn't quit work - I did a different kind of work. " I went from non-stop productivity to full-time creativity. I did the opposite of my always and the contrast filled me with joy.
What I learned on my travels is that you don't have to be torn between two worlds - you can have the best of both worlds. You don't have to put aside what puts the light on in your eyes - you can integrate it into your work so you feel more balanced and blessed. You don't have to lose your "hobby" because you're always working, you can leverage your hobby to make your work fun and productive.
Want an example of how this works?
When I lived on#Maui, I had a friend named Kathy who was a 4.5 tennis player and a Realtor. We played a couple times a week until the economy slumped and she told me she was too bus" finding clients to play tennis anymore.
I suggested her hobby wasn't an indulgence she do only when she had spare time - it was a competitive edge that could give her access to ideal clients. I suggested she approach the concierges at the Four Seasons and Grand Wailea Resort (both 5 diamond properties catering to affluent travelers - Kathy's target demographic) and let them know they could recommend her to guests looking for a good game of singles. They eagerly did this because Kathy had lived on the island for years, was a respected member of the community, and they trusted her to make this a good experience for their resort guests.
This turned into a win for everyone. Within a month, Kathy was back to playing tennis 3-5 times a week AND had several new clients buying houses. She didn't offend anyone with hard selling. It was natural while sharing an iced-tea after a satisfying match for guests to ask "What do you do?" When they found out she was a Realtor, they'd often ask if she had any available properties for a good price. Not only was Kathy back to being active outside doing something she loved - it became an organic marketing tool that kept her visible and became her secret sauce to success in a down market.
Want other ways to figure out how you can integrate your passion into your profession and keep the light on in your eyes? Want to leverage your years of experience into a new NEXT that makes a positive difference for all involved?
You're invited to check out these sample posts to access some of the specific steps on how to create a unique niche ... and shape work you love that matters NOW, not someday ... so you're creating a life-work integration that is personally and professionally satisfying.
Hope you'll visit those sites. You will never regret clarifying what's important to you and bringing more of that into your life ... you will only regret not doing it sooner.