Doing What You Love
We are extremely saddened to say that on October 21, 2018, Jeffrey Poehlmann passed away. Jeffrey’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. He will be deeply missed.
On a recent morning, I was chatting with another parent after dropping our children off at school. He spoke about the full day ahead and the sheer amount of work it would involve. Thankfully, he added, he enjoys what he does. That makes a world of difference when facing challenges and balancing home and work responsibilities. But it goes further than that. Especially when living with an incurable disease.
It wasn't an easy or direct path to get to the place of professional satisfaction and personal life balance. (A caveat: I am not sure that it is ever possible to find a perfect balance on this sliding scale.) But the irony is that without my cancer diagnosis, it might have taken me a lot longer to find the balance I have. This is because doing what you love and being able to make a successful career out of it has quite a bit to do with discovering a purpose for your work.
Even before I began my chemotherapy treatment, I knew that somehow lung cancer would be the subject of my work, that I would incorporate my experiences into my writing and create something of value. But after years of professional ups and downs as a writer and content creator, it was daunting to put myself into a narrow niche.
Although at first I passionately attended to my blog and worked to compile material for a book on living with cancer. But I still scrambled for freelance gigs that I could manage between infusions, which left me with little energy to work on the material I wanted. Soon, the blog and book took a back seat to copywriting and laborious jobs that I felt no emotional connection to. I was grateful for the work, even some of the assignments I took for clients who clearly did not value creativity, but it wore on my spirit.
Lung Cancer Forced Me to Find My Passion
It was hard enough getting up in the morning when the chemo was settling in. Sitting down at my keyboard was becoming something to dread. In spite of a few projects that inspired me, the work I was encountering mostly left me feeling desperate and sad. Then I realized, finally, that the time I felt best, the most invigorated, was when I was writing about the topic closest to my heart. It might have seemed like a small niche, but that really did not matter. I dropped all the work that lacked meaning for me and tried to focus on reaching my audience. It wasn't quite magic and it didn't make me rich, unless you measure these things in happiness. Because there was a certain amount of magic in how it affected my family. And there was a definite enrichment to my professional life.
It was a lesson that decades of professional creative work, mostly done for others, had not taught me. I had been happy because of what my work afforded me, but often in spite of the work itself. When lung cancer forced me to face new limitations, it also forced me to examine my values and refocus my passions. Eventually, I got the message. And, in one of those grand ironies, I've never been happier with my professional and personal life balance.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?