I grabbed the Whole Foods bags from the cashier, and hustled after my boss, Bill, through the sliding doors.
Bill’s wife, my co-boss (is that a word?) Hayley was waiting back for us at the house. An hour earlier, we were halfway through a photo shoot when the troops decided we were starving. Bill and I volunteered as tribute to make a Whole Foods run into the city to get supplies.
“So what do you think you’ll do when you retire?” I asked.
I loved calling Bill and Hayley “my bosses,” but they were far from your typical executive team. Five years older than me, the couple could pass for college students. They were business partners before they were married, launched their own company well before age thirty, hired their first full-time employee (me!), and loved working from their dining room table over any office space.
Bill hit the unlock button of his sports car and I hopped into the passenger seat. “I already feel like I’m retired,” he said. “Windows down?”
For as long as I can remember, I thought the only life worth living was one filled with hard work—which meant stress, long days, and praying for the weekend.
That was three years ago, and I still remember that day in the Whole Food’s parking lot. At the time, it was so weird to hear Bill—someone who just turned thirty—say that.
This is going to sound very strange (and a little morbid), but I didn’t understand the allure of a life of relaxation. At that point, I fantasized about killing myself over a job. The idea of late nights at the office, business meetings, and traveling for work was attractive to me.
My two bosses, on the other hand, were constantly telling me to rest in the middle of the workday.
Why would we wait thirty years to enjoy the life we have?
When they say be careful what you wish for, it’s true. Zoom forward three years, and I got everything I once wanted in that Whole Food’s parking lot. I got the late nights. I got the all-nighters. I got never-ending meetings, thousands of edits, and project plans upon project plans. And I did not love it.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been photographing the Keto Freedom cookbook, written by Meg Doll. It’s been a grind. Meg and I shoot from sun-up to sun-down each and every day. Yesterday, we rearranged half my living room just to get one shot in. That first week, Meg and I collapsed on the couch at 8:45PM, unable to move. We had been sprinting back and forth across my apartment all day, and we were exhausted.
Exhausted, but very, very happy.
It is possible to build a life that makes you excited for every minute of every day—I’ve watched it happen.
I can remember setting up for a photo shoot one day, and all I could think was, “Is this what Bill and Hayley feel like? Is this what it’s like to absolutely love what you do, every minute of every day?” For the longest time, I thought the only life worth living was one where you worked incredibly hard. I never understood that you can work incredibly hard while still loving what you do.
I brought up my current project to my friend Tara, someone who became an entrepreneur last year. Tara has grown her following exponentially in the past year as an in-person and online personal trainer/Instagram model. Her response was, “Honestly, it’s a grind, but it’s worth it. I want everyone to feel like I do.”
How many people do you know will say that??
How many people can openly say, “I love what I do,” and mean it?
How many people wake up every single day and absolutely love every minute of the next fourteen-ish hours before they fall back asleep?
Most people I know don’t live between the hours of eight and five. Living starts when the workday ends and the weekend comes. [Or when they retire at age sixty-five, and can’t enjoy the things they could have enjoyed forty years earlier.]
There are a few people I know personally—Bill, Hayley, and Tara included—that found a way around it. These people don’t have a work-life balance—their work and their life are entangled as one. They absolutely love what they do all day long, get energized from their daily tasks instead of drained from it, and believe they have the best job + life in the world.
Which makes me wonder, why did I ever wish for a job that would kill me when I was standing in that parking lot?
I’m not saying I have the answer for all these morning ramblings.
I’m just saying I believe it’s possible. I believe it’s possible to love what you do during the workday as well as after it.
And whatever that is, I want to go find it.