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Could I care less?
…is what I asked myself this morning.
This might speak to anyone who has decided to make their “passion” their “work.”
Let’s stick with the vocabulary for a moment. A passion is something that you burn for, that evokes some sort of spark in you, that lights you up, or that you find deeply satisfying doing.
Work, in the common sense, is an activity that you do, typically regularly, often bound to a certain outcome, and coupled with the expectation to receive something in return.
When I decided to quit my “regular” office job and take on teaching yoga as a self-employed teacher, as well as studying Shiatsu and start writing, I did it with the intention of giving more space to these activities that I inherently love doing and feel good about. I was following a seemingly natural drive of liberating my life from a job that was not meaningful for me anymore, and replacing it with a form of work that I saw value in, felt good at, and observed to be in alignment with core characteristics of myself.
“Do what you love for a living” is a phrase I used to write on top of my calendar page often, and when I reread it to myself, I noticed a sense of bold, almost rebellious satisfaction. Isn’t this what everyone would ever want?
Why is it that today, I am feeling tense about my work? Why am I troubling myself with high expectations?
This morning, I sat with my morning coffee worrying how many people will show up for my yoga class. I’d prepared a thorough sequence for hip opening, feeling excited and giddy about sharing it, and had already put out some promotional posts on my social network.
However, sitting with my coffee, I was one hour away from class and had no registrations, seeing my whole joy of creation fade and be washed away by an anxiety of being non-relevant.
It’s not even about money.
Yes, granted, for those amongst us who really draw their financial income exclusively from their “passion,” money does for sure play a big role, and makes things even more complex.
For me, however, the issue lies primarily in the caring.
The thing about “doing what you love” professionally is that you become close with the material. Typically, working in that way involves putting little pieces of myself into the work I am delivering.
You hear embodied experiences of mine translated into my yoga sequences, you feel parts of my energy in the touch of my Shiatsu practice, and you’ll read pieces of my mind in posts like this.
What I put out is partly me, and I identify with it. I am the one initiating and creating the work, and I deeply care.
Show-up rates at my classes, that is, normal data which is relevant in any business, reflecting about numbers and quality, suddenly become a personal evaluation. Suddenly, I am drawing emotional conclusions from rational information.
No one came to class—does that mean I suck as a teacher? My client walked away from the massage session without saying a word—does that mean I have somehow messed up the treatment? And what does that say about me as a passionate professional? Am I even in the right place offering those services?
You could spin those thought wheels further and further and probably at one point end in existential crisis.
But what if I don’t want to go there? Where is the point I can interfere at to stop this destructive dynamic?
What if I put a gentle separation between myself as a person and creator and the work I put out? What if I create for the sake of creating it, remembering why I started this work in the first place?
What if I cared less? Could I?
I suppose I can. In fact, I can care less about the goal and outcome of my work and just keep caring about my side of the “business.”
Is it my job to convince the people on the other side to like what I do? Is it my responsibility to make my offer a priority in someone else’s schedule?
What a crazy idea!
Instead, however, I could certainly redirect my effort into the whole process of creation. I could remind myself how fun it is to write, to sequence, to learn, and to creatively combine. I could let myself be delighted by the surprises my own mind and body create for myself while allowing my work to do itself.
Just caring a little less.
How would that feel today?