Creative Fulfillment Versus Financial Security

Inciting Incident


You want to be able to support a family. You want to enjoy the leisure activities that signal a successful life like golf, skiing and traveling to exotic destinations. There’s more to life than just work.

Did your parents love what they did? No, to them a job was a job and the stuff that counted was what you did outside of work: family, friends, community, church, hobbies.

Instead of looking inward to find what work you want to do, you look outward at the work that needs doing. If everyone just did what they felt like who would create the jobs, discover the cures and innovate the technologies needed to bring about the progress our society desperately needs?

Besides, if you’re honest with yourself, the only thing you’re really “passionate” about is hanging out with friends — who’s hiring for that job? Rather than being a preexisting inclination, passion in a career germinates over time. If you don’t feel passionate about your career, especially as you’re getting started, that’s normal. You start with effort — investing the hard, unsexy, long-term work that’s needed for it to grow it into something deeply fulfilling.


Life is short. You only get one chance and you have to be true to yourself. It takes courage to ignore everyone and do what you know is right for you. You refuse to be among the 67% of people who either aren’t engaged at work or actively disengaged.

You saw how depressed and stressed-out your parents were squabbling over money — it ruined them. If you’re not careful you’ll get addicted too — like Nassim Nicholas Taleb says,“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. Every great idea ever brought to life was thanks to a person with a dream and the passion to see it through.

The world is waiting for you to have the courage to follow your bliss. You have a chance and to not even try would mean living a life of “what might have been.” Sure it’s risky but with high risk comes high reward.

Progressive Complication


You never find creative fulfillment. You put your head down and get to work, putting fulfillment on the back burner but by the time you lift your head again you’ve overweight, overstressed and you can’t help but feel a gnawing anxiety that it has slipped by without you being able to enjoy much of it.

You thought you could work hard for a while and once you had financial security you’d be able to do what you really love. But you’re in too deep and have grown too accustomed to a standard of living so high that you have no choice but to keep on going. Your co-workers, your kids and your wife are all depending on you.


You never find financial security. You’ve considered giving up on your dream to start over with a “normal” career a thousand times but you’re years behind everyone else. Your friends are all married and having kids and you’ve got no career capital to speak of – you’ve been waitressing, working retail or being an Uber driver your whole adult life.

You’re in debt, living in an apartment with roommates — with not much more to speak of than when you were in college. Giving up on your dream will prove to everyone else they were right and prove to yourself that you’re a failure.



You squeeze in time on nights and weekends to work on things that supplement your creative longing but you’re so exhausted every night that most of the time you put off investing effort into your creative ideas and settle for Netflix instead.

You’ve taken advantage of the money you’ve earned to pursue leisure and hobbies – playing golf, skiing and going on vacations to hawaii — all of which gives momentary respite but it’s not enough. You’re living for the weekend but even those are becoming scarce as the demands at work begin to creep into every aspect of your life. Despite everything you do for them, you can’t help but read from their looks that your kids are disappointed in you and you’re afraid that they’re right.


You squeeze in time on nights and weekends to build something to supplement your measly income but if you added it up it would still be way less than minimum wage. The work is tolerable and better than being broke and you tell yourself that it’s still creative in a way.

The more you build your business the less time you have for auditions and gigs. Does the mere existence of this side hustle prove that you’ve given up? You’ve gotten looks from friends that you can’t help but read as them thinking you’re selling out and you’re afraid you are too.



You take the leap and settle for a new job as a middle manager at another company. You tighten your belt financially – no more membership at the expensive health club, no more car leases, no more eating out nightly. You brace for the comments from coworkers about being ‘put out to pasture’.

You start cooking dinner at home and try mending relationships with your kids who are weary of your new presence in the home. Are you too late to be a part of their lives?

At night you dust off your brushes, canvas and easel and begin to paint. Alone in the garage with a painting in front of you that’s indistinguishable from a kindergartener’s, you begin to weep.


Pathetically, all of your earthly possessions fit easily into the back of your 2005 Nissan Centra when you moved out of the Valley to a condo in the suburbs where the rent is feasible and you have the space needed to work.

You sell your guitar amp for a round trip ticket to pitch your first big client. You land the sale — which is only because your bid was the lowest — and as soon as you get home and see your measly condo, everything still half packed in boxes, an overwhelming feeling of dread falls over you. The new client will see through the facade any moment and realize you’re an imposter.

You get a text from your roommate back in the city who forgot to remove you from the group text. They’re meeting up for a drink at your favorite bar. You begin to weep.



You pay for an overpriced booth at the county fair where you put your paintings up for sale, fully knowing there’s little chance you’ll even break even, but you’ve got to ‘put yourself out there.’

On the last night of the fair you sell your first painting. Your family is there to celebrate with you. Amid the hugs and high-fives your son pulls you aside and confides in you that he’s glad you stopped working so much.

That night, feeling wise, you tell your kids, “life is short – don’t worry about money, do what you love and enjoy life.”


Business has grown slowly but surely. It’s a stretch but you surprise your family with plane tickets to Hawaii — the first vacation you’ve ever been able to take them on.

After a long, satisfying day of body surfing, while eating pulled pork sandwiches at a food truck, your son looks across the table at you and tells you he’s proud of you.

On the last night of the trip, as you watch the sunset on the beach with your loved ones around you, feeling wise, you tell your kids, “life is short – get an education so that you can get a good job and enjoy life.”

Comments are closed.