Are You Waiting to do Something Amazing?

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Melissa Gorzelanczyk as a guest author here at Life Without Pants. Melissa writes at Amazing Work and Peace & Projects, where she is figuring out life, love and getting (amazing) stuff done. Come over for a visit, lovely. (Totally her word, I couldn’t pull off calling you guys “lovely”…)

If you want some solid advice on how to live life, hook up with a 5th grade guidance counselor.

I did, along with Little Boy and Mr. Right. I kept track of the main points, feeling a positive, sunshiny feeling spread as we talked. Here’s the gist of the meeting:

Right! I’m on board. So is every 5th grader in the district. Its simple: find something you love to do and make money doing it.

Fast forward to turning 18, entering  the “real world” and earning a big F for failure for taking 5th grade advice.

In the real world, most people I know don’t love work. They love leaving work. They love the weekend. They love celebrating a hard week at work by spending some of their hard-earned money. They live in a constant state of the Mondays.

I wondered: When is the disconnect? When do you decide to give up on doing work you truly love to simply make money? (Disclaimer: Money is good, money is awesome, I can never have enough, personally. You need money to live, plain and simple. If you think this post is about giving up money to blindly follow a whim – AKA your passion in life – you’re wrong).

But really: What happened to that work you love?

Take my own work, for instance. I’m finally doing my amazing work for a living. But I’m almost 30 years old. So what have I been doing until now?

Amazing work on the side, you guess? Making money and then switching gears to do what really lights me up, what leaves me shouting, “Yes! This is what I want to share with you!” … All those years …right?

No. That’s what this post is about. For 10 years, I didn’t do much amazing work. I did ok and good work, or I’ll admit, work I hated but pretended to like. I ignored the writer inside, putting her on a shelf for, “Someday, later, when I have time.”

This post is a confession: It was a mistake.

Because unless you’re working for yourself, making craptons of money doing exactly what you want, chances are your day is spent following someone else’s direction. That’s how companies are built. You’re their employee. They own your time.

But what about the other time? That time you spend watching TV, feeding virtual fish on Facebook and hosting whine and wine nights? You own that, you. Own. That. Time.

It was an easy but blindsiding epiphany. I saw: my day job was not always filled with amazing work. Slowly, I changed that. I uncovered the amazing parts and started to do more of those things. I didn’t ask for permission. Then, I took the time I actually owned and filled it with even more amazing work.

And the past 10 years? Well, obviously I didn’t have time to follow my dreams. When I was single, I was too busy. When I was planning a wedding, I was busy. Raising two kids, duh, busy. Name an excuse, insert here.

But redemption, I finally wondered: “Yeah, why DON’T you start a blog?

What are you waiting for?

Let me turn the tables: What’s your answer? Why haven’t you started that thing you want to do? If you’re waiting for permission to go, you have it, go! Don’t wait any longer … do what you really want to do. Don’t wait for a time when you’re not busy (doesn’t exist) or an investor or an agent. Go. Don’t quit your day job. Just take a peek at the next chapter in life. Get out of the prologue.

Today is the best day to take off your pants.

Today is the best day to do something amazing. What will you do?

Photo by Thomas Hawk


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52 Responses
  • Sid Savara Reply

    Hey Melissa, Matt!

    Great post – and a great wake up call =)

    I loved this line – “Just take a peek at the next chapter in life. Get out of the prologue.”

    One song that I don't know most of the lyrics to (hehe) but love the chorus of is Unwritten –

    “Live your life with arms wide open
    Today is where your book begins
    The rest is still unwritten”

    ;)

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    @ Sid – Good morning! Those words are a good way to get this day going.

    @ Matt – Thanks again for having my post on your awesome blog. It's an honor!

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    No no…you did not just quote Natasha Benengfield here. You are hereby banned from the Life Without Pants comment section (lol). OK – wise words, even if the source is…less than stellar. And I really love Melissa's point of 'getting out of the prologue' – that can honestly be the hardest part, taking that “first step” – but once you do, you can ride the momentum toward whatever it is you want to be doing.

    Thanks for the comment Sid!

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Of course Melissa – it was a pleasure chatting with you last week and I'm a big fan of your writing and optimistic (and realistic) outlook on life. Thanks so much for coming through and guest posting here in my neck of the woods. Have a great week!

  • Srinivas Rao Reply

    Melissa,

    Well said. It's kind of mind blowing that a 5th grade guidance counselor has that wisdom yet somewhere along the way that message gets lost. I've been urging friends around me to go do something they love to do because in the end you are always much more happy and successful when you go that route. I've been an employee, slaving away, doing work I didn't care about living exactly what you've talked about. I'm glad I woke up from that nightmare.

  • Deborah Fike Reply

    This post really hits home because I, too, wasn't doing exactly what I wanted to do for a long time. Now that I am, I am extremely happy.

    However, even though I agree you should be always trying to do what you love, I don't consider my first 10 years in the workforce as wasted time. Trying different things out of my comfort or even excitement zone let me gain new skills that have increased my ability to do what I love. It also makes me appreciate what I have today even more. I think if I would have started out doing what I love, I might have taken it for granted over time and just pushed my frustration farther out into my life, rather than getting it over right out of college.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    The message does get lost, or at least misconstrued along the way – it's funny that all that school we went through taught us to follow one specific path – in an almost soul-crushing way. It takes a while for us to figure out that there is no SET path, that each of us can and will go down a very unique path and that, most importantly, we create that path for ourselves, no one does it for us.

  • Jen Reply

    Hi Matt & Melissa,
    I'm not trying to be a negative nelly here, but what if you just don't have a passion to do anything? Aren't there people out there like that? I can't be the only person in this entire world, who at age 30 still doesn't know what they want to do/be when they grow up.

    I would be estatic to do work I love, wouldn't anyone want that? But I don't love anything really that much. I just don't get it, I don't have a passion or a calling. Right now, I have a job that pays well and it's whatever. I don't mind doing it, it isn't fun or exciting, and there is no way I could ever be passionate about it, but it pays my bills and allows me to afford nice vacations and it is very low stress.

    I mean unless you guys know someone who is hiring for a job where I can sit on the beach and read books all day I'm not sure where I'm going to find this work that I love so much. I am really good at figuring out what I don't love. :)

    Again, I'm not being negative, this is fabulous advice, I just want to know where all of these people who keep talking about this are actually finding their callings.

    I assure you though as soon as I figure out what it is I love I will let nothing stop me from doing it!

  • Jen Reply

    I agree I don't regret any of the jobs I held the past ten years; I look at every single one as learning experiences and stepping stones. I wouldn't have half of the knowledge and experience that I have now if I had not worked in those industries for other people first. I had amazing mentors that taught me more about work/business in general, life even.

    I also think that what you may believe you love at 20 something might not be the same thing you love at 40 something. I am a huge proponent for experience in the real world.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I agree with you 100% Deborah – and speaking on my own behalf, I have learned something from every experience I've had, both good and bad, personally and professionaly. Granted I'm young and those experiences are somewhat limited – but there is something we can take away from every single up and down throughout life. Even the really bad times in our life teach us something. And being able to say I (somewhat) know Melissa personally, I can almost guarantee she's in the same belief as us.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I don't think this is being negative AT ALL Jen, I think this is being realistic. My take: Work is work, no matter which way you slice it, I would much rather be hanging out on the beach writing my memoirs sipping a cold beer and enjoying time with my (soon to be) wife and dog then doing work any day of the week. Work is still work and life is still life – I'll always be more passionate about my family and friends than I am about the work I'm doing – when that balance starts to sway toward work, I'll ask my wife to give me a good shake and remind me of what's truly important.

    So yes, we all want to find amazing work – we all want to do something we truly love – but that's not always in the cards. That's why I think Melissa's point about REALLY enjoying and maximizing the time away from work was so key – that if you are living a truly fulfilled and happy life away from the nine to five, that attitude and mantra will start to creep into the work you do every single day. The two can go very much hand in hand.

    And I think it honestly takes a lifetime to truly figure out what you want to do, what you should be doing, what your purpose is here. I'll tell you that right now, I'm happy, but what I'm doing isn't what I ultimately want to be doing – and to be honest, I don't know what I want to do, but I'm going to enjoy today, tomorrow, and the next day – each day as I figure out where I'm going. Don't focus so much on trying to figure things out – inside you know what you love to do, either at work or away from work – focus on doing that as much as possible, and build around it.

    (FYI this rant could have been entirely not helpful – but trust in the fact that you are not alone in the “figuring things out” boat…at all)

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    @ Deborah, Jen & Matt – I completely agree that experience is never “wasted!” I still work full-time and have gained incredible experience, no matter how un-glamorous my previous positions have been. Now I am lucky to do things I really enjoy (most of the time).

    I do believe I personally wasted time by not doing things that made me happy in the meantime – waiting for a day when I would “have” time instead of “make” time. Or maybe I thought a publisher would walk up and knock on my front door, begging me to write a book.

    Thanks for your comments!

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    Hi Jen – I am really glad you posted this comment. Many people feel this way, many people I am very close to.

    I adapted a post from Zen Habits on my new site about this very issue: http://www.amazingwork.net/blog/2010/02/how-to-

    I'd really love to know if it helps in any way. Matt is right, we are always growing, learning and discovering in life.

    I am very passionate about finding and building work you love … I do believe in it. It might not be everyone's “thing,” but I want to help others see: It's possible.

    And LOL about the beach job … my dad asked if there is a job where he can sit in a recliner and eat potato chips. Still no answer on that …

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    Nice to meet another fan of amazing work. I do believe you can do amazing work AS an employee too – there are more options than quitting your day job and travelling the world. The point is: there are options, doable options that aren't very scary.

    I hope you have an awesome week.

  • Deborah Fike Reply

    @Melissa: I hope the original comment didn't come off as “Deb downer.” ^_^ I agree with your post as a whole. I also heartily agree that you can't continue to see things as “not having enough time.” If you want something strongly enough, you will make time.

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    @ Deborah – No worries at all, thank you for taking the time to comment. Make time for the things that matter, definitely. Have a lovely week!

  • robbyg Reply

    You've really hit the nail on the head in this guest post. I love how you said that we own the time when we are not working. People are caught up in the idea that they are at work and that's all they need to do and someday in the magical future they will be doing what they truly love, and then “one day ten years have gone behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.” (Pink Floyd-Time) Watching TV and wasting time stalking people on Facebook can be done once you've accomplished something you love, so we must really own the time we have right now. Your post was truly inspirational and I hope many will agree. Cheers!

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    “Work is work, no matter which way you slice it, I would much rather be hanging out on the beach writing my memoirs sipping a cold beer and enjoying time with my (soon to be) wife and dog then doing work any day of the week.”

    But you're assuming work HAS to be separate from sipping cold beers and enjoying time with your wife and dog. Who said it HAS to be that way?

    What about people who work for the Coast Guard or the Red Cross? Sure, it's “work” but they're saving lives – literally. Something tells me they LOVE what they do and there's nothing they'd rather be doing. Sipping beers on the beach? Fuck that. There's lives to be saved for these folks.

    Yes, that's extreme. But my point is that when “work” is something you just like doing, that's all it is – it's what you're doing while you're here. Society calls it “work” – I call it stuff I really enjoy doing that I get paid for.

    A lot of people (usually creative people as I've learned through my Beyond The Pedway interviews) have a DRIVE to do something great, to create something, to create impact. I'm one of those people. Sitting on a beach all day, every day sipping beers and doing NOTHING is not paradise to me – that's boring. I'd last a week, or a month, and then what?

    I'd want to start doing something.

    Work is what you make it – nothing more, nothing less.

  • sameve Reply

    Um…I love this. It totally speaks to me because (shhh don't tell my boss) I'm not doing amazing things at work. I like my job, there are parts of it that I really enjoy doing, but I don't love it. I fully realize this, and I know that I should follow your advice and stop waiting to do something amazing. But, I'm someone who has always been a giver, and putting myself first doesn't come easy. I have good excuses for waiting (ie my mom is sick, my long term boyfriend is going to law school in the fall etc), and for now, I'm going to continue to wait because I think sometimes we have to. I'm not dismissing my dreams or calling them impossible or anything like that, they WILL happen, and I do use my free time to tap into them, it's just that being there for the people I love is something I love doing too. So for now, that's going to be my amazing thing that I do, and we'll see where life takes me. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly!

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    Hi Robby – LOL stalking people on Facebook … that's extreme, but it sounds like such a silly way to spend time when you think of it. Thanks for breaking out some Pink Floyd in your comment – love it!

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I'm not assuming anything and I don't think it HAS to be separate (your assuming I'm assuming) – however at our age it almost always is – we need to make money, bottom line, and sometimes that's going to involve doing work that we don't absolutely love from the bottom of our hearts – that's called real life.

    Often times we don't even know what it is that we love – what we're truly passionate about, so we feel lost and confused about what we should be doing. What I was saying in my reply to Jen is that if you're not sure what you LOVE in a professional sense, do the things you love personally – with your family, your friends, your hobbies, enjoy the hell out of your life away from the thing thats paying the bills, and odds are that positive attitude will A) really have a positive impact on what you ARE doing for 'work' – or B) even better, during the interim you'll figure out where your passions truly lie.

    Life is what you make it – but it takes real time for some, for most, to figure out what they really LOVE doing during their time on Earth. Also, everyone's version of paradise is different.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Agreed Robby – Melissa makes a great point. I think it's very easy to forget that you DO own that time – we're always thinking that work owns our time, or our kids, our spouses, our clients, etc. We get so caught up in the whirlwind that we forget, very often, to make time for ourselves. Always important to keep that in mind. Having a little “me” time is critical to maintaining sanity…

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    @ Sam – I think doing the right thing – whatever that is for you – can be amazing work, too.

    On the other hand, let me throw this thought at you, take it or leave it (from a girl that's let a lot of excuses stand in the way): there will always be excuses or reasons not to do something … but if you shift your focus just a little, lots of reasons to go and get started.

    Whatever you choose, I wish you peace. Stay true to yourself and thanks for sharing.

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    I think (know) you ARE doing some amazing things Sam – and honestly, what you're doing right now may not feel so amazing, but being there for your mom, for your boyfriend, for your friends, and truly caring about them IS amazing. You'll continue to figure out what YOU want and where YOU want to be personally – but amazing work can of course being there to love and support the people that matter most. It may not tie in directly with your professional career, but I have no doubt you are and will continue to lead a very fulfilling life.

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    Hi Tim – Wow, that made so much sense to me, thanks for the insight. “Sitting on a beach all day, every day sipping beers and doing NOTHING is not paradise to me – that's boring.”

    I agree it would BECOME boring, which I'm sure Matt would second (or would you, Matt?) … a beach can't really compare to getting that little zing of excitement when something new comes my way or when I beat writer's block.

    Now I'm off to dream of what my personal paradise looks like. Good stuff.

  • Lauren Reply

    Great post. I can totally relate. I got incredibly lucky – first job out of college is EXACTLY what I want to be doing. At least for right now. Who knows what I'll want to be doing later on, but I do know that in order to DO what you want, you have to GO for it. Some people dream of success, other's MAKE IT HAPPEN.

    Thanks for the inspiration :)

  • emrosario Reply

    Love this. Always so easy to use the excuse of being too busy! When I graduate in May I will definitely stick to my plan to do all the things I am now wishing I had time to do, and go after my dreams :) Thanks for this, always positive!

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    Completely agree. For every creative person out there that's driven to create, there's somebody who has no idea what their “it” is.

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    For the record, I'm the biggest fan of beaches and warm weather you'll find. :)

    But I'm also a person who loves to create and always has a handful of ideas running in my head. The idea of “retirement” to me simply means there will be a few less ideas up there…

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    “first job out of college is EXACTLY what I want to be doing. At least for right now.”

    And that's the beauty of it all – you can change interests, switch jobs etc. at any time. When you see fit. If you end up in a field that has nothing to do with your college studies, whip de doo. As long as you're enjoying it.

  • Tim Jahn Reply

    If only we could get the schools to start sharing this instead of burying it…

  • Sid Savara Reply

    Haha ;)

    Thanks for being so welcoming Matt, let me know if there is another post I
    can comment on where I can get my musical tastes bashed =P I can TOTALLY see
    why people comment here all the time =P Hehe

    If it's any consolation, I only know the chorus ;).

  • isaokato Reply

    Tom Petty sang “the waiting is the hardest part.” I guess nothing is harder than the wasting (by waiting). Thank you for your insight. I think I needed to read it.

  • Moon Hussain Reply

    Most people are stuck in that cycle. Most have seen their parents do the same thing so they accept it as reality. I'm hoping to shake things up with my big move to San Diego. Hopefully I'll find work that I love to do :) That would be just awesome.

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    That's wonderful that you are doing what you love so soon. You're right – dreams only get you so far – the next step is action.

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    Yes! Stick to your plan! Thanks for your encouraging response.

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    Glad to help and don't waste anymore time – go for it.

  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk Reply

    Just curious, do you have an idea of what kind of work you love?

  • Jonny Reply

    Hit the nail on the head with you view on being an employee. Thats is indeed what businesses are built on, people working for the “security” of a pay check and building someone else's dreams.

  • kathyjerzak Reply

    First time reader and I am completely wowed. Lots of good stuff

  • Matt Cheuvront Reply

    Thanks Kathy. Glad you stopped by. Don't be a stranger around here!

  • Mj90086 Reply

    if work does not own your time than the government will, you’ll end up in a shelter. I have no job so i guess all the time in world is mine unless the shelter catches up with me first.

  • lisa Reply

    I like your view, but the truth is if its not your job than its the goverment owning your time. That’s where you will be without a job, a shelter. Beautiful!!!

  • Faisal97 Reply

    is notu00a0amazing sow match ?u00a0

  • Faisal97 Reply

    Um…I love this. It totally speaks to me because (shhh don’t tell my boss) I’m not doing amazing things at work. I like my job, there are parts of it that I really enjoy doing, but I don’t love it. I fully realize this, and I know that I should follow your advice and stop waiting to do something amazing. But, I’m someone who has always been a giver, and putting myself first doesn’t come easy. I have good excuses for waiting (ie my mom is sick, my long term boyfriend is going to law school in the fall etc), and for now, I’m going to continue to wait because I think sometimes we have to. I’m not dismissing my dreams or calling them impossible or anything like that, they WILL happen, and I do use my free time to tap into them, it’s just that being there for the people I love is something I love doing too. So for now, that’s going to be my amazing thing that I do, and we’ll see where life takes me. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly!n

  • Janwin Zeegar-Holman Reply

    “Today is the best day to take off your pants.”
    Love that line. This was great. Thank you for your insight : )

    -college student in search of purpose

    • Cohltufford Reply

       Fellow college student present in search of purpose…I won 2 state championships in texas then got a full ride for football. I discontinued playing this past year because I did not have the “passion” anymore. (atleast that is the verbage the coaches like to use) Anyways, I played quarterback and it was so demanding and stressful that i reached my cap out to the point of not giving a fuck. What do i do then? When my whole life has been revolving around this silly game. I am lost in this world. I am an anarchist at heart and yet I still go to work and school! It is hard for me to get motivated to do anything because it appears so..so empty. I constantly fantasize about running away and never looking back. Just go..and try to find something that I love doing.

  • Julz Reply

    I just found your blog.  I’m staying!!! 

  • Ben Reply

    This was a great article! I just feel so uplifted and inspired by it. Thank you.

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