Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to contribute to a new health and fitness publication on the market. The pay was decent. The topics were interesting. Most importantly, the opportunity would likely expose new avenues for making connections and allow me to network with more folks in the health and fitness space.
I turned it down.
The decision wasn’t an easy one. I absolutely love my work at Automattic, but I also enjoy pursuing other creative ventures in my spare time. The extra money doesn’t hurt either (although it goes straight to the Florida Department of Education).
On top of those more practical points, I felt like I needed to take the offer. I realized this stemmed from my desire to keep up my “reputation” as a health and fitness writer (the amount of articles I write has drastically tapered off from a time when I was publishing 80+ a year). I’ve been doing it for long enough that accepting assignments is just something I do.
At the end of the day, the decision boiled down to one simple question:
Is this the #1 thing I want to do we my free time?
If I answered myself honestly, the answer was “No”. There are plenty of other things that I want to do (writing and creating for myself being at the top of the list).
Often times, I believe we make decisions based on our internal desire to maintain a public image of sorts. That desire has shaped many of my decisions previously. It’s a main reason that leaving personal training was so damn hard. For the longest time, that’s all I had done. It was all I knew. More importantly (it seemed at the time), it was all that everyone else knew of me. I was Jeremey, the fitness guru that obsessed over workout data and nutrition. I knew leaving the personal training industry would cause that perception to change.
Still, ultimately, I knew I would be happy doing something different.
I’ve written quite a few times in the past concerning our relationship with time and how it defines and shapes what is really important. In the end, personal happiness – really being content with what you’re working in – should overrule everything else.
So, make decisions based on what you want to do, not what you think you should do. Give yourself permission to do the work you love, regardless of how that fits in with the public perception. People and opinions may fade in and out of your life, but you’ll have to live with the choices you make.