The Purpose of Work is to be Happy at Home
“Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy. Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.”—Steven Wright
People often ask me why I teach my classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “Did you research the best days that people want to take classes?” they ask. “No,” I reply, “I teach those days because I want to have lots of 4-day weekends.”
I don’t have to be available at all times to all people – that idea comes from fear that you won’t attract enough people who will fit your schedule. But I know there are 9 million in LA alone, and I only need 60 clients a year in my business, so I’m never going to run out of people.
When a friend of mine had a TV show, people said to me, “Chellie, you could have a television show, too!” I said sweetly, “No, thanks.”
I don’t want to have my own show. I just want to appear on someone else’s show. Dr. Phil had a once-a-week gig on Oprah for two years. That was a perfect set-up in my opinion. He has his own show now, and I’m glad for him, if that’s what he wants. But for me, it just looks like too much work and responsibility. When too many people are relying on you to show up every day, your freedom is diminished. And freedom is my number one goal.
It was the same when I was acting. I always liked the second lead parts—the funny, dancing lead—better than the leading lady roles. I’d much rather play feisty Ado Annie than lovelorn Laurie in Oklahoma, or perky Gladys in The Pajama Game rather than the romantic lead.
Once in summer stock, a director wanted to cast me as Wendy in Peter Pan. He sought me out and announced his casting decision to me happily, thinking I’d be delighted since Wendy was a leading role.
“Yuck,” I said. “Can’t I do Tiger Lily instead? Wendy’s on stage all the time and doesn’t even have a song, and Tiger Lily has two!” He was very surprised by that, but thankfully, he let me have my way. I had fun, got a lot of attention, and didn’t have to work too hard. “Ug-a-wug-WAH!”
The lesson is to know what you want so you can pick the path that will lead you there. Don’t be blinded by the glitter of the wrappings. Look within the box at the real present inside. It doesn’t matter if everyone else thinks that’s the best goal in the world, if getting it won’t make you happy or fulfilled. It doesn’t matter if everyone else thinks your goal is crazy, either. Your goal is your goal you don’t have to answer to anyone else about whether it’s the right goal or the best goal. It’s your goal, and that’s all that counts.
To be fair, there is a downside to being small. Some people may discount you, pay you no attention, think you’d be bigger if you could be, think you’re a failure, and chide you for not Living Up to Your Potential.
I have no intention of Living Up to My Potential. Potential is just another oppressor. My goal is to be a Wise Woman. I want to help others find the wisdom within themselves so that they can live a good and honorable life, full of riches—interior ones and exterior ones. I don’t have to change the world and I don’t have to be famous. I will help the people who find me; the people who want what I have. And I will help them find their own-size goals, not necessarily world-size goals.
In their futurist book, The 500 Year Delta, Watts Wacker and Jim Taylor with Howard Means state that “What society has always treasured is what is scarce. The old status objects are all over the place, begging to be bought. Satisfaction and domestic contentment have rarity, and rarity, as always, has the greatest value.” I remember in particular this passage: “If you want status, walk into a room and announce that, amidst the ambient chaos of our times, you’re a happy person.”
But happy people never have to make that declaration. You can smell it on them. You can see it in their eyes; you can feel the energy of the joy that pours from them. I used to hunger for that, and tried the diets and the high heels and the status jobs in order to get it. But those aren’t the things that get it for you. When you find the work that makes you sing, and helps others to sing along with you—that’s where happiness lies. Whatever someone else might say about me or my “success”, I know that I’ve never been happier in my life. I’m living my life the way I want, I’m doing the work I want, and I have enough of the things I want.
What do you want? Why do you want it? How is your life without it? What is important to you when night falls? The purpose of work is so you can be happy at home. Home isn’t a support to make you better at your job. Your spouse and your children aren’t there to get stuff done for you so that you can work harder, longer hours. They aren’t irritations. They are your heart. They are your life. Make sure your goals include loving and nurturing them, instead of spending your energy on wrappings instead of gifts.
If the gold tennis shoe fits, wear it.
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Chellie Campbell is the creator of the Financial Stress Reduction® Workshops, and author of The Wealthy Spirit, Zero to Zillionaire, and From Worry to Wealthy. She has been prominently quoted as a financial expert in the Los Angeles Times, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Family Circle, Woman’s World and more than 50 popular books. She can be reached at Chellie@chellie.com