If you’ve ever been to the beaches of San Diego, you’ve probably seen an older gentleman known as Slomo rollerblading up and down the boardwalk. I’ll admit, the first time I saw him, I definitely thought he was homeless. But he’s not. He’s a retired neurologist who quit medicine to do what he loves.
Slomo’s real name is Dr. John Kitchin, and he’s the stuff of legend. In a recent New York Times documentary, he disclosed his motivation for his rather unorthodox take on life. After years of pursuing his career and its financial payoff, he woke up one morning to the realization that the daily grind of existence was “the most absurd, stupid way of life,” he said. He took a personal inventory and realized that all he really wanted to do was rollerblade. So, that’s exactly what he did.
A call to a greater passion
My questions after watching his inspiring story are these: What the heck are the rest of us doing with our lives? And why aren’t we pursuing our passions with Slomo’s rugged determination and honesty? After talking with dozens of women about these questions, I’ve heard an awful lot of excuses. I’ve also thought through how to put these excuses in their place.
“I don’t have the money.” Since people work to get paid, this is a legitimate concern. The trick is to allow your financial status to serve as information rather than a barrier. Instead of saying, “I don’t have the money,” try saying something like, “I don’t have the money now, but if I work a second job for a while, I’ll have the savings to quit my job to pursue my dream.”
“I don’t even know what I want to do.” I’m appalled that people drag themselves to work every day without giving any thought to what they’re passionate about, what they’re good at and what they want to do. Think about it. Dream. Don’t quell your passions by prematurely telling yourself it’s not possible.
“I shouldn’t.” Duty is good in small doses, but it cannot guide your life if you hope to be happy. A good friend of mine recently said, “I should stay in this job until the kids are done with college.” Her kids are 10 and 6. That’s a lot of years in a bad career. The question is: Should she? Really?
“I wouldn’t know where to start.” As the old adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. No one knows where to start. Dreams take shape over time, with plenty of joys and setbacks along the way. Don’t let the possibility of unforeseen barriers stop you from dreaming and putting one foot in front of the other.
“I’m scared I might fail.” Spend time thinking about what it means if you fail. Does it mean you’ll be unloved? Does it mean you’ll end up homeless? Once you put your fear of failure in context, it will lose its control over your decision-making.
“I want more stuff for my family.” Your kids don’t want more stuff. They want you, and they want you to be happy and fulfilled. Figure out how to make that happen first.
When you’re old, will you love the woman you were?
If all else fails, ask yourself this question: “When I’m old and gray, will I love the woman I was at 20? At 30?” Will you love the choices you made and the time you spent? Will you feel thankful for risks and failures? Today, if you know the answer is no, choose the brave choice instead of the conventional one.
Look, I get it. Last year, I asked myself the same question and had to answer no. Within two months, though, I did something about it. I left a supremely unhealthy marriage, sold everything I had, quit my full-time job and moved into a 700-square-foot pool house that I lovingly call “my shack.” Are there hard days? Absolutely. Would I ever go back? Not a chance. After all, Slomo himself says, “the good ol’ days are already here.” Now, go make the most of them.