Coming Soon to Your Town: Pursue the Passion
I don't know Brett Farmiloe - yet - but I do know that he's a man on a mission.
That mission revolves around understanding what separates those with a career that they're passionate about, and those who settle for paying the bills and worrying about "the passion thing" when they get around to it. Or who decide to compartmentalize their existence: work's in this compartment, passion occurs elsewhere.
Here's a bit about what Brett Farmiloe is up to: When he graduated from the University of Arizona last year, he decided that it would be nice to have some help figuring out just what to do with his life. So he cooked up the idea of talking to people who've "made it" to see if he could learn the secret to having a passion-filled career. With two friends, he started on a road trip that resulted in 75 interviews - and a passion for sharing what he's learned with others who are early on in their life's journey. Brett shares the wealth on his web site, Pursue The Passion (PTP). (I'm sure there's a book in there, somewhere, too.)
I haven't read all the stories on Brett's site yet, but I do know that he's on to something. Because if there's one thing I've figured out, it's that if you combine something that you care deeply about with the way you earn a living, you will have work that you'll be just as happy with at 65 as you are at 25.
And, let's face it, many/most of us are still going to be working at something or other once we hit 65. And that's not just because we don't have pensions, we're piss-poor savers, we're living longer and healthier than ever, we need medical insurance, and/or we can't think of anything better to do with ourselves - although, come to think of it, these are pretty compelling reasons to think about postponing retirement beyond the absurdly young age of 65. (And trust me, the closer you get to 65, the more absurdly young it seems.)
The truth is that, much as we like to grouse about it, the work we do - whether paid, family-related, volunteer, creative, or whatever - helps give our lives shape and meaning. It keeps us thinking, provides us the opportunity to keep building new social relationships, and gets us out of our own heads and houses.
Work is just a whole hell of a lot easier if you're crazy about at least part of what you do. And if you're in your early twenties and staring at the minimum of 45 or 50 years of work-work you likely have ahead of you, it's definitely worth thinking about what's going to make work tick for you.
Personally, I started out my career on the wrong foot. I went to business school not because I was passionate about business. (Au con-frickin-traire.) I went for the retro-reason that my boyfriend thought it was a good idea. Pursue the passion: not!
So I stumbled headlong into a career in business, and more than a few years into it, I stumbled headlong into marketing.
And then occurred a "small wattage light bulb goes off" moment.
Marketing had elements of creativity, analysis, and writing.
I was getting warmer...
Some parts of marketing I liked better than others, so I decided to focus on product marketing. Not quite as much fun creative stuff, perhaps, but the job required explaining things clearly. It involved getting the product story, the product message, down in clear, compelling, and interesting ways. In writing.
I was getting warmer still.
I finally decided that writing was so damned important to me that I needed to make more time for it in my life. And damned if all that product marketing experience didn't make it possible for me to find decently paid free-lance projects that give me the all important FREE TIME I want for writing.
Better late than never, I'm pursuing the passion.
So bravo, Brett, for trying to help people figure out how to find work they love.
This summer, Brett and a couple of his PTP colleagues (James Whiting and Noah Pollock) are embarking on a second road trip, with an ambitious cross-country schedule. They're probably coming soon to a city near you. They're looking for people to talk to about what makes them tick, so that they can pass the word on to those starting out. (I also took an ambitious cross-country trip when I was Brett's age, but my goal was to See the U.S.A. while avoiding trying to figure out what to do with my life - a road trip that was probably closer to the spirit of J. Kerouac than B. Farmiloe.)
Yes, I know that people really have to figure the whole "what am I going to do when I grow up?" thing out for themselves, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have someone encouraging them to think about it, suggesting how they go about it, and warning them that, if they don't have work that they love, it can get pretty ugly.
Check out the PTP site, and drop Brett a line if you have something to contribute to the conversation (or want to connect with him while he's on the road - the "tour dates" are on the site).
Here's Brett's contact info: