Nrdly templates
Try Nrdly for free Try Nrdly free

I Ditched The Competitive Life To Live A Creative Life

Three years ago, I was trapped in a bullshit job.

David Graeber, a London-based anthropologist, came up with the term bullshit job in his book, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, where he described a phenomenon impacting a number of people all over the globe.

A bullshit job is a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.

My work was pointless and had stopped satisfying me. But it was not easy to quit. One reason was I was getting paid a handsome salary to show my face, and two, I had no idea what else to do.

All my life, I was conditioned to work.

The Call For Creativity

It is one thing to quit your job but completely another to figure out what you really want to do with it.

So many of us had a career at the center of our lives for decades — probably since we left college. When we reach midlife we are faced with the question, ‘What do I do now?’

I looked at friends around me and was disheartened to find they were spending their time minding their grandchildren or tending to their gardens. I didn’t want to confine myself to do just that.

I firmly believed that our life is not just work, home, and social commitments. It is a whole lot more than accumulating money and things.

I wanted my retirement years to be my best.

I believed there was a lot more in me waiting to be expressed. I knew my best was yet to come.

At this time I came across the work of David Corbett, a thought leader on life transition, who revealed that retirement which once was relegated to winding down, now holds the promise of our most significant and passionate years. A time when we can be ourselves and contribute.

We are not only living longer and healthier lives but also tackling a life stage that did not exist twenty-five years ago. A new arena that could last three or four decades after our initial careers have ended.

In his book, The Portfolio Life he shows a new way of thinking and living in extended middle age.

This new stage of life is made more meaningful when people crate a balance of work, learning, leisure and family time, giving back, and whatever else has been simmering on the back burner of their hearts and soul during their careers. The balance can be tailored to one’s personality and situation. I call this a life portfolio because it holds an intentional combination of passions and pursuits. Those who do best at it step back early on, question whatever they may have learned about “retirement,” envision new possibilities and plan ahead.

The term ‘Portfolio Life’ resonated well with me. I am a multi-passion person and a life as a portfolio of activating offers a compelling alternative to traditional retirement.

When I was in primary school, I loved to draw. My favorite class was drawing, where we used to draw and color. Each year, when school would start, I would buy a new set of colored pencils. I loved them more than anything else. All through primary school, I drew, I colored, and I had fun. Then I went to high school and they took away my colored pencils and gave me algebra books.

Now a tiny voice inside me is saying, “I want to draw again. I want to play with colors. I want to have fun again.”

What if I am not good at it. What if I got ridiculed for my attempts. But the tiny voice inside me was saying, if not now then when? In a few years’ time, your eyesight would fade, your hands would tremble and you wouldn’t be able to draw or paint. The thought terrified me.

I also want to write. Writing is not my strong suit but I chose it as my hobby to get better at it. I had tried my hands at writing life stories to document them for my future generations.

I wanted to blog as well. I started a blog a couple of times but gave up because I couldn’t post regularly.

The concept of ‘portfolio life’ gave me a new way of exploring my long-lost passions. I made a list of what my portfolio would include:

  • Blogging
  • Writing
  • Sketching
  • Cartooning
  • Traveling
  • Photography
  • Rock painting
  • Traveling
  • Teaching
  • Public speaking
  • Organizing retreats

According to Corbett, ‘portfolio life’ is about who you are and so-called ‘retirement years’ are the best time to create a life explicitly for yourself.

All of the above-listed activities make me who I am and without any one of them, I’m not complete.

Thinking of my life as a portfolio of activities helps me embrace change and explore the possibilities that will come with an additional 20 to 30 productive years. I will be able to live my life by design and on my own terms.

Out of nowhere, I have this itch to explore the creative side of me.

It took a lot of courage and mental shift to move from a competitive life to a creative life.

Today I am living the life I envisioned for myself.

When I started dreaming it, I didn’t think it was possible to get to where I am today. I wanted to write books, blog, and teach others how to write. In less than three years, I achieved all that.

I wrote about my journey in my new book Dare To Create. It is part “my story” and part a “motivational” book for those who too want to ditch the competitive life to lead a creative life.

Yesterday, when I was giving it the last read before hitting the publish button, I thought how far I had come in a short period, and it was all due to the books, articles, blog posts I read along the way and the courage they gave me to make the transition.

No success is an individual effort; it is a cumulative effect of all the people who went the path before us and cared to share it with us.

Dare To Create is available for 99 cents for a short time. You can get it here.

Subscribe to my newsletter at A Whimsical Writer for more tips and motivation.