THE BLOG
06/28/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Doing What You Want to do in Life -- What's Stopping You?

I have this habit of asking people what they do for a living. More often than not, they either hate their jobs or maybe they're just bored. I then ask them, "Let's say I could wave a magic wand and give you the perfect job, career or profession. What would you do?" What's interesting is that their secret gig usually isn't crazy, out of reach or unrealistic. The accountant doesn't want to play next to Kobe Bryant. The middle-aged lawyer has no eyes to be an astronaut. It's more like they want to be writing a novel, painting, or be hosting a radio talk show. So, when I ask them, "What's stopping you?" it all begins. I don't want to use the word "excuse" -- that makes it sounds like they're lazy. That's hardly the case. More than likely they're afraid. And that's what this post is about -- seeing if we can figure out what's stopping us from doing and getting what we want. I always wondered what it would be like for these people at the end of their lives, looking back perhaps disappointed, maybe even angry that they didn't take a chance.

I knew this guy who was a doctor. He hated it. He did it because his father insisted that he go to medical school. His real dream was to play music. He wanted to be known as "The Rock Doc."

A good friend of mine owns a famous restaurant. His place is loaded with celebrities. He wants out. He'd rather be a yoga instructor and a business coach or better yet a combination of both. Yet the velvet cage of power, money and prestige holds him back.

Another physician I know pines to leave his reasonably successful New York City practice and write novels in Vermont.

A singer is trapped in the body of a network television producer. The list goes on.

For decades, my wife, Susan Yager, had a successful career in the home furnishings direct marketing industry. She was really quite good at it, but she was losing interest. Her real passion in life was food. So, she decided to get a Master's in Food Studies. I asked her what she wanted to do with this new degree. She said she honestly didn't know. She just wanted to learn about food. In the course of her studies, she discovered she could write. I mean really write, really well. She has a book that's about to be released called The Hundred Year Diet. America's Voracious Appetite for Losing Weight. Is she making a ton of money at it? Not yet, but she loves it. Getting up in the morning and sitting in front of her laptop is something she looks forward to.

If you're one of the fortunate ones who enjoys what you're doing, be grateful. But if you're not, what's stopping you?

What stops us is more about fear than money. I'm not saying that you have to hand in your resignation as a software designer; clearly you have to pay the bills. My wife continued working while she was in graduate school. But you still can write at night or paint early in the morning. You can start your own Internet talk radio show on the weekends. You may even find out that you are really good at your dream job and discover that you can make a living doing something that you love. Or you may learn the opposite--you really don't enjoy the work nearly as much as you thought you would. And that's fine, too.


So, what about you? What prevents you from doing what you want to do? Or perhaps you have crossed the line and now work at something you used to just dream about. Leave me your comments; so we can all learn something about this together.