The Most Powerful Lesson on Life and Work
I learned it the hard way, but you don’t have to.
This article was originally published on www.havingtime.com (October 2014)
I lost my father to melanoma in June 2010. After he was diagnosed he hoped that the treatment will work and he will be ok. But he wasn’t. When he finally understood that this is the end, he became tormented by regrets.
My father worked all his life in a factory and I don’t remember seeing him ever enjoying his job. He was always so nervous when he returned home to us and he hardly ever talked about it. But what could he have done? He had a family to support, right? So he just continued working in that factory for 30 years, dreaming about the day when he was going to retire.
That day finally came and he was so happy! The bad days were gone. He bought a piece of land and decided to become a gardener, this was his dream since being a little boy and he just loved being with his trees and plants all day long.
I don’t think I ever saw my father happier. He was planning to travel more, he was telling me all about his wish to visit Transylvania which he didn’t have the chance to visit before.
And then, all the sudden, he got sick. He was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and his condition deteriorated quickly.
When I was visiting him, he would still tell me about his wish to travel to Transylvania, only this time he knew he was not going to make it. Those eyes will haunt me forever…
I still think that what killed my father was not his cancer, but his regrets.
He died with the stupid regret of not taking the time to travel the 300-km distance to Transylvania.
I remember my friends telling me to focus on my job so that I can get over that period after my father’s death. And I did. I went to my job every single day to keep myself busy.
And you know what? It only made me more miserable. It didn’t make the time go by faster, it didn’t take my pain away, but instead it made each day seem so meaningless.
Only then, I understood the true power of doing what you love.
I had to lose my father to learn all that, but you don’t have to. So, here are the things you are going to do instead:
1. Get in Touch with yourself again
Pick half of day (today, tomorrow or over the weekend) and take this time to get in touch with yourself and think about your life.
Are you doing what you want? Are you doing a work you love? What purpose do you want to give to our life?
2. Never Lose Your Curiosity
Try new things and learn new skills with every opportunity you get. You never know what passion they will awaken you. This is especially applicable to those who don’t seem to have found their “passion” yet.
3. Make a Plan
Set your goals to live the life you want and draw all the steps needed to get there!
Understand your departure point and accept it: if you have a family to take care of (or all sorts of other responsibilities) you can’t afford to quit your job today, move to Italy and become a painter.
I am not, by all means, advising you to do this. But just think about it: if you love painting and Italy so much, is there any way you can incorporate those things more into your life now? You can paint each Sunday morning while the kids are still sleeping, or you can plan your next years’ holiday in Florence.
And finally, the most important thing I learned:
4. Don’t Only Look for Passion
I have learned that passion, just like happiness, is not by all means a continuum.
It’s more like those moments when you feel like you could work for hours without feeling hungry or tired. It’s that sensation of losing yourself completely to an activity until the time loses its meaning.
So, find those activities that will get you in that state. It can take some time to find them, but don’t give up.
If for any reason, you are waking in the morning and not feeling the excitement of getting ready to start your working day, then it is time for you to do the things suggested above.