It was raining yesterday morning when I left the house to go running.
Not sort of raining, either. I’m talking full out, full blown, Cecil B. DeMille* raining.
The kind where you drive your kids to the bus stop even though it’s directly across the street. The kind where you hesitate at the door of the post office, preparing to run to your car. The kind where you’re too lazy to go back in the house for an umbrella, so you wrap yourself from head to toe in a blue, plastic tarp that you found in a corner of the garage, just so you can go down the driveway for the newspaper. (Or is that just me?)
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Anyway, you get the picture. R – A – I – N … rain.
Now the truth is, when it comes to running, I don’t mind the rain. In fact as long as it’s reasonably warm, I kind of like it. There’s something fun about deliberately getting soaked on a day when everyone else is doing all they can to avoid it.
So out I went.
All was fine for the first half mile or so. That’s when I left the comfort of my quiet neighborhood and ventured out into the windy, hilly, nearby country road that makes up my usual route.
The problem was that with all that rain falling so fiercely, both shoulders of the road had become flooded with three-foot wide, fast-moving rivers of water. There aren’t any sidewalks and with cars speeding by on a regular basis, I wasn’t sure where to run.
I couldn’t run in the middle of the road (that would be stupid) and I didn’t want to just turn around and go home (that would be disappointing). So I did what you would probably do: I put my head down and decided to just slog through the ankle-deep water along the shoulder.
Blah. Pretty miserable. But I eventually made it home safely.
After shedding my 20 pounds of water-logged clothing and hanging it to dry in the bathroom (see honey, I’m learning), I got to thinking that my running in the rain experience held some pretty good lessons for me and my fellow mid-life solo professionals.
- There’s always going to be rain. I used to think that the day would come where I’d be “successful” as a solo and my worries would be over. I finally realized that no matter how much experience and good fortune you achieve, there are always going to be rainy, miserable days.
So don’t worry about it; put your head down and keep running. The sun always comes back out.
- Safe is the wrong choice. If the “safe path” and the “scary path” led to the same place, you wouldn’t have a decision to make. It’s only because the more difficult road holds so much more promise (and deep down you know that), that you can’t easily walk away from it.
But not only does scary lead to better results, it’s where all the fun, interesting, juicy action is too. There’s a reason Nike doesn’t make t-shirts that say, “Just Think About It.”
- We don’t regret failing; we regret not doing. I got a call last week from a guy who told me he was thinking of leaving his boring job and doing what he really wanted to do instead. Then he made a mistake. He said (out loud), “If I knew I’d be successful at it, I’d do it in a second.”
Uh oh. If ever there was a phrase that paints you into a solo professional corner, that’s it. Because once you hear yourself say it, there’s no putting the lid back on.
Every poet, musician, writer, philosopher and old person at the coffee shop will tell you the same thing: Take more chances; follow your dreams; don’t trade your life for money. (Of course, I suppose they could all be wrong.)
Here’s the bottom line. Working for yourself, particularly if you begin in mid-career, isn’t always fun and it isn’t always easy. There will be plenty of rainy days, plenty of times you’re tempted to take a safer route, and plenty of anxiety along the way.
But I can guarantee you this: It sure beats working.
*Look him up, youngster.
Although today is not my husband Rog Wyer and my 22nd wedding anniversary, it is our 7th “engage-a-versary”. Hence we won’t be sending a handsome gift to Linda and you, but we do send you warm congratulations! I love your e-newsletters, Michael, and have forwarded issues numerous times to my clients and friends, as samples of great content, for learning and for fun. Here’s to many more great e-news issues – and blessed years of marriage 🙂
Thanks Joyce, I appreciate it. And congrats on that engage-a-versary thing you got going too!
As a person who really doesn’t mind trading my life for money, I try to go by this principle when I have a decision to make: It’s the 60/40 principle, i.e., if there’s a 60% chance my choice will be successful, that’s good enough for me, and I’ll go with it (I try not to dwell on the 40 times out of 100 that the choice didn’t work out so well). It’s been a pretty good road, so far.
Thanks for your always cheerful and funny words, Michael, and congrats on 22 years. Does that mean you’ve both lived longer with each other than without? 🙂
I like that 60/40 rule Debby!
And I wish it meant lived longer together than without since that would put me under 45 or so, instead of my very ancient 51!
Well, in answer to your question, Michael, I guess I’ll have to make the choices I know I want to make as I was laid off (made redundant, over here – Ireland) on Wednesday. I have been hemming and hawing and there are extenuating circumstances involving changing countries (again) etc. But here is my big chance. And I don’t know whether I have the courage to go for it, or the wherewithal. Perhaps they’re the same thing. And I am an ancient 55!
I must echo your other commenters and congratulate you on 22 years of wedded bliss. I do so enjoy your beautiful and very funny writing.
Katherine! Congratulations on your layoff. I wish you all the best in finding your spot on he other end of the “redundant” spectrum — nobody else on earth who does what you do.
And thanks on the wedding bliss thing too! Quite hard to believe, actually.
Since I was a kid I always had this thought that successful professionals don’t do it for money….They LOVE whatever they do and the money follows along… I must agree Michael that not every day is sunny, but I always learn something when is “raining”…
Congratulations to Linda for putting up with you for 22 years!! All the best to BOTH of you.
Thanks so much Roger! We celebrated with dinner in your town Friday night — The “3” restaurant. Great spot.
Here here! I begged to get laid off so I could go running in the rain! Thanks for the awesome post – happy anniversary!
PS- a fitting art quote – John Dewey was once asked the meaning of “aesthetic.” He said he didn’t know, and he needed time to think about it. Weeks later, he said he still didn’t know; he only knew it was the opposite of anaesthetic.
Leaving a job is like letting the anaethetics wear off and opening up to the beauty and pleasure and fullness of life. And yes, pain, too. Its all part of the deal.
Beautifully put, Alexa!
Hi, there is much truth to be gained from your viewpoint. I have always tried my best to do a good job whenever employed by someone else. The one difference however, is that when morning came and it was time to get going, I said,” Rats, heres another day of working for someone else” On the other hand, when morning came and I was self employed, I sprang out of bed and thought to myself,”how on earth will I ever get all the things done today that I have to do” As you say, “attitude makes all the difference.”
That’s a great perspective, John. I agree — the difference between success and failure on the job can be hard to even feel, much less be motivated by. Out here in self employment land, it keeps you on your toes!
Great post with great reminders, Michael! Love your comment about Nike not using the slogan, “Just Think About It.” Just the motivation I need on this Monday morning!
Would make an interesting t-shirt though!
Happy anniversary to to you and Linda!
Thanks for the reminder that there will always be rain and storms sometimes. With the rain and storms come growth (rainbows, flowers, fresh air, green grass) It is funny how lfe has its way of pushing you forward. I can relate to your comment – “Safe is the wrong choice. If the “safe path” and the “scary path” led to the same place, you wouldn’t have a decision to make.” I worked for a brokerage firm for 18 years, after 9/11 I was laid off. I always wanted to work in the fitness industry but had a comfortable career, I would never give that up. Well who know! I worked hard to become a successful fitness coach. However, once again a storm was in the forecast the gym t worked at closed its doors unexpectedly! Another push, it’s time to open my own facility, talking about SCARY, I now own my own gym! I’m still scared, but I know it will be rain, rainbows, sun, flowers, green grass; even brown grass from time to time.
Thank you again!
That’s a great story Terri. You’re an inspiration. As someone else (don’t know who) once said, I’d rather be scared to death in my office than bored to death in someone else’s!