|Money Can't Buy Contentment|
Ronald, age fifty-three, was a successful account executive for an international advertising agency. Divorced, he had no financial obligations, since his children had graduated from college. He owned a beautiful home in a beach community and a pied-a-terre closer to work in the city. His yearly salary was about half a million dollars. What more could Ronald want? Contentment, that's what.
Initially very excited about his current job, Ronald had become bored with managing details and putting up with his clients' demands. He found that he had little patience with people, and had a difficult time getting psyched up for presentations. Lately, he found himself spending money impulsively.
What Ronald enjoyed most was video-editing. He didn't get much of a chance to work at it because of his 50-60 hour work weeks. His secret fantasy was being able to make a living at this hobby. Extremely rational, he didn't believe you could actually make money doing anything that was enjoyable.
Naturally, Ronald was envious of colleagues who worked in the creative-side of the advertising business. They seemed to have fun at what they did, while he felt little passion for the work - even for the money he earned.
He also felt he was captive to his own monetary success. He had monthly expenditures which required a high level of income, so he continued to work at the same old job managing the advertising accounts of large companies.
When I met Ronald, he was very disappointed in having let his life slip by without taking a chance to explore his passion. He had been unable to quit his job and alter his lifestyle. To him the American Dream had become a trap.
I suggested that Ronald need not quit his job in order to embark in the video editing business. While exchanging a high-paying job for an uncertain future might suit an entrepreneurial personality, that strategy did not fit Ronald's more calculated style. A conservative risk-taker, he needed to be able to sleep at night and be at his best to start a new career. If he were to become anxious about making his new business a success, he might set himself up for failure.
So we developed a plan to ease him into a new career and business while he continued to work at his full-time job. That way he would still be earning an income while he was planning a new career. Ronald never lacked confidence in his professional ability, but he wasn't sure he could support himself by working at his "hobby." However, he was sure that if he devoted enough time and energy to the new business, he could make money and perhaps enjoy himself at the same time. It was a risk he was willing to take.
Ronald asked the President of his company if there was an opportunity to work with the creative side of the business. He told him of his desire to explore his passion; he was pleasantly surprised by the reaction. He was encouraged to talk to the Creative Director, to see what opportunities there were to participate on the creative end of the accounts he was already managing. He was encouraged to give more of his administrative work to two assistants, who would grow professionally as a result.
Within a year, Ronald had proven he had talent in video-editing and production. He was ready to phase out of his job and start his own business. He could use his vast network of business and social connections to acquire clients.
He sold his apartment to use some of his profits for the start-up costs of the equipment and materials he would need. He would renovate his garage at the beach house for his work space, and he would still be close enough to the city to meet with clients.
Ronald was very practical in planning his business. He was genuinely happy for the first time in many years. He had regrets that he hadn't taken the risks earlier, but was happy that he had a chance to live his passion.
Most of us have just such a chance, like Ronald, to make successful transitions in our lives. The key is to come up with a solid plan, then proceed down that path knowing that with sufficient passion and effort, you truly will succeed.