A couple of years ago, I was teaching Making a Living Without a Job at UNLV. Although it wasn’t going to be a large class, I always have a sense of anticipation on seminar days and this was no exception.
After I had finished the first part of the program, I asked if there were any questions or comments. A woman raised her hand and asked a good question which I did my best to answer.
I noticed a man named Rich on the other side of the room suddenly sitting up straighter. As soon as I’d handled the first question, his hand went up.
“I’ve been listening to what you’ve had to say,” he said and paused. I thought a disagreement was coming.
I was wrong. “And I’m happy to learn than I’m doing a lot of things right, “ he said.
Without any prompting, he went on to share his story. “I did everything possible to keep from losing my job,” he said. “I took a pay cut, I worked longer hours, I hung on for dear life. A few months ago, I was laid off anyway. When I left, my employer said they hoped to hire me back as soon as possible and wanted me to leave my office just as it was with my wife’s picture and other personal things. I agreed.”
Then he went on to tell us that he’d spent a couple of weeks licking his wounds and then decided it was time for a new plan. This new plan included starting a service business as a handyman and junk remover.
Rich told us a bit about his what his days are like now. “My wife says,” he laughed, “that she’s never seen me so relaxed and happy.”
The longer he talked the more enthusiastic he became. “Last week,” he went on, “I decided to go back and visit my old employer. I’ve only been gone a few months, but everyone looked like they’d aged two years. I looked at my old office and thought, ‘I’m never coming back.’”
As often as I hear stories like Rich’s, I never fail to be moved by them.
Discovering our right livelihood is often a turning point, after all, one that introduces us to more joy, more adventure, and more extraordinary people than we ever realized was possible.
When he finished his story, I said, “So do you know what the number one regret is of people who become self-employed?”
Without hesitation Rich said, “That they didn’t start sooner.”
He is absolutely right. That’s a regret that can be avoided, of course, but only if you go after your dreams sooner.
Psychologist Alfred Adler concurs. “There is only one danger I find in life,” warned Adler, “you may take too many precautions.”