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A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who has been beside themselves busy at work, which is something I can absolutely relate to. Often, particularly now as I find myself with the space to look out across the water and breathe as opposed to constantly running, I think back to when I was in a perpetual state of doing – tunnel vision in relation to my career.

When I became a wife and a mother, it forced me to find balance. But doing so wasn’t always easy and if I were to say I didn’t struggle through that process, I would be kidding myself and you. I think any person, particularly parents, trying to do the same would agree.

But balance isn’t a luxury reserved only for those with children or family responsibility – balance is something we all need in our lives.

When my friend casually brushed off their situation with, “aren’t we all just here living to work?” I found myself responding with a resounding NO! Absolutely not.

It led me to wonder how many of us feel the same – we are simply going through the motions of life – living to work as opposed to working to support the life we want to live.

I have always been a high-achiever, so I understand striving for the goals you have set out to accomplish. And for people who are “doers,” the quest for balance is even more important because without it, our lives become one dimensional.

We have been so conditioned to think success equals happiness that we often overlook the other aspects of our lives – self-care, nurturing our friendships, building connection, raising our children – whatever fills the rest of our days.

Several years ago, I was speaking in front of a group of University students about my career, the publishing industry, and the importance of loving what you do. One of them asked me, “what made you choose a life and career in books?”

The answer was simple – passion.

When I was in college, I used to joke with my Dad that I wanted to sit alongside Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw, reporting football from the sports desk. For as long as I could remember, Sunday afternoons were spent watching the Minnesota Vikings, hoping that in my lifetime I would see them reach the Super Bowl. It has been 41 years – I am still waiting.

What I realized, somewhere between that pipe dream and an early career as a journalist, was that my calling wasn’t necessarily for hard-hitting news or commentating sports, the draw for me was stories – which led to a career in publishing.

I went on to explain to the students that even on the toughest days – when nothing is going right, you are frustrated with your boss, or you are dealing with a difficult client – if you are doing something you are passionate about, it will keep you coming back.

The worst of days are easily brushed off, remembering that you have an opportunity to do something you love.

But how many of us are simply ‘head down’ trying to earn a paycheck or pay the bills? While necessary, our paycheck shouldn’t be the only reason.

I recently had another friend reach out who is considering a career change after over a decade in the same industry. What once fueled her passion has changed as her own life and circumstances have changed.

We talked a lot about what leaving might look like, brainstormed ideas on what could potentially come next, and talked about our hopes for the next 20 years of our careers and lives.

Do something you love.

When you pore yourself into something that drives your purpose and passion, you will always feel fulfilled. You will always have enough. That certainly doesn’t mean you won’t struggle, but it does make the difficult moments that much easier to handle.

We get so stuck in this matrix of comfort that sometimes we forget it is okay to change.

When we made the decision to pack up and move abroad, one of the hardest things for me to do was to say goodbye to the career I had worked so hard to build. I spent months when we first arrived wondering what’s next?

And then it happened – life began to take shape. Projects presented themselves. I let go of the attachment to what my career previously looked like and made way for what it needed to look like now.

The underlying driver was still the same – a passion for storytelling. Now, the vehicle in which I drive that from simply looks a little different.

Instead of going into an office, I work from home. Instead of being told what stories to support, I get a choice on those I feel are important. I allowed myself the freedom to say yes or to say no, all weighted on the foundation of making a difference through stories.

Even after all these years, I still believe our stories are the invisible thread that connect us. And this is what continues to fuel my passion still today.

We spend so much time at our jobs and careers, why wouldn’t we want something other than comfort to be the driving force behind going into work each day?

If you had it all to do over again, would you choose a different path?

If the answer is yes, I want to challenge you to ask yourself why you aren’t making that choice now.

When we live our lives from a place of truth as opposed to complacency and comfort, particularly as it relates to our careers, it allows for our jobs to add value to our lives as opposed to being a source of constant tension.

Instead, passion bleeds into every aspect of your life and creates a natural fluidity that allows work to contribute to your ability to live the life you deserve and want.

This week, let’s all take a deeper look at our lives and the things that drive us. Ask yourself, “am I living to work or working to live?”

Only you can answer that question for yourself.

Cheers to a new week and living a passion-filled life.

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