Do what you love… (what, now?)

Have you seen that Prudential TV commercial that asks viewers about their dreams?

“We asked people, ‘If you could get paid to do something you really love, what would you do?'” says the announcer, a professor.

People give him answers like teacher, baker, pilot, architect, and art historian… “or a writer.”

“What if I told you that someone could pay you to do what you love, and what if that person were you?”

Ooh, intriguing, I thought. Slice me off some of that awesomeness.

Treat yourself to a good life!

Treat yourself to a good life!

“That’s what I envision retirement to be.”

Wait, what?

“When you think about it, “isn’t that what retirement should be? Paying ourselves to do what we love?”

In that moment, the kitchen floor dropped out from beneath me.

So the guy who wants to be a teacher is going to wait until he retires to become one?

The one who wants to be a pilot is going to wait until he’s 65 to start taking lessons?

Okay, sure it’s a commercial about saving for retirement. They’ve got to make retirement accounts appealing and all, but it actually had the opposite effect for me. It wanted to be all uplifting and inspire us to save for retirement so we can have the money to do all the things we don’t have time for now.

But seriously, do they think we need to wait for retirement to be happy? Whoever wrote that commercial has a sad definition of what’s possible in life.

One of my friends is a social worker by day, but that doesn’t stop her from being a brilliant photographer the rest of the time. Oh, and she writes a novel every November too — AND has time to have a life.

Another friend, a stay-at-home mom of five, is also a published author.

And a third, a mom of three with a full-time job outside the home, writes a novel every year and has published short fiction.

And another started her own publishing company from her house two years ago, with her daughter who lives two hours away, recently completed college, has her own job, and just got married. What if they’d seen that discouraging commercial before trying to pursue their dreams? Would they have thought their lives too busy right now to think of doing what they love?

So what do they have in common? They didn’t listen to people like Professor Pessimism who might have told them their dreams are a “someday” kind of thing.

Life is full of unexpected barriers, and anything can happen between now and retirement.

Live your dream now, while you have the chance. Then retirement can be the icing on the cake of a life well-lived.


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