What's your bottom line?

Last week, I shared some advice that I thought was brilliant. This week, I'm sharing my reflection on some advice that I think is terrible. As soon as I read the title of this article, called "Why 'Do What You Love ' Is Terrible Advice",  I was annoyed. I found its message irksome and the delivery condescending. It rubbed me the wrong way.

The more I ruminated, the more I realized why the article bothered me so much: I felt that there was an underlying subtext to the whole piece: Something the author wasn't blatantly saying, but rather implying and using for the basis of his argument. It was that idea that success, in this article, is measured solely in terms of financial viability.

Fair enough. When it comes to business, financial viability and growth are really important. If you want to be a going concern, you're going to need to watch your economic bottom line. Commerce 101.

Here's the thing, though: There are all kinds of bottom lines. In my MBA program, we focussed on the idea of a triple bottom line: economic, social and sustainable responsibility. It's not always just about the money. There's nothing wrong with money being your bottom line, as long as you don't pretend it's something else. It's a choice, just like everything else.

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In fact, it doesn't matter what your bottom line is at all, as long as your actions and your being are aligned and in integrity with what you say is important. Whatever you say is important.

It made me think: What's my bottom line? It didn't take me long to see that when it comes down to it, my bottom line is about creating a life filled with joy, both for myself and for the world around me. It's at the core of who I am, along with humour, heart, brilliance and dedication. Whenever I've worked towards a bottom line that isn't in line with my core values, I've become frustrated.

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I have behaved at times as though money was my bottom line and, more specifically to the point, as though my bottom line involved getting my hands on more of it. Now, do I hate money? Nope. My shoe hoard collection alone demonstrates that I very much enjoy having disposable income. I like to do a lot of things that require money. Doing things that are congruent with my Essence, or core values, sometimes can cost money (e.g. Jetting off to France last year to share a beautiful experience and lifelong dream with people I love).

Plus, I need a roof over my head and food on my table, like anyone else. But money, just for money's sake, is not my bottom line. If I behave as though financial gain alone is my raison d'être, then I'm going to be conflicted. I'm going to be unhappy. I'm going to feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled. I know this based on empirical evidence: Whenever I've behaved as though money were my driving force, for example, seeking a new job just for a higher salary, I've been frustrated. Either I don't get what I want (or what I'm telling myself I want), so I'm a victim, or else I do get it, and surprise! I'm not satisfied and content.

And hey; I'm not judging: There's nothing wrong with money being a driver in your life. It's just not a driver in mine. This awareness is very important. I know many people who insist that money is not their bottom line, but in reality, it is. They struggle with trying to make other things feel important and to find value in what they're doing. They look everywhere else for meaning and are frustrated that they aren't finding it. They've got it that there's something wrong with valuing money and try to convince themselves otherwise. Your bottom line is only wrong if you say it is (and you do get to say).

earl_timeIt's all about getting really clear on your bottom line first, and second, ensuring that who you are being—and then third, that what you're doing—is in service of moving your bottom line towards your end goal.

Make no mistake: It can (and most definitely will) take a lot of hard work to follow your dreams. But, spoiler alert: It's a lot of hard work to follow someone else's, too. And the time? It'll pass anyway. It helps make all that time and effort feel worthwhile if you're really clear on what it is that is driving you—your bottom line.

Continuing to spend your time, your life, no less, doing something you hope to enjoy someday, however, now that seems like terrible advice to me. Don't abandon your hopes and your vision because someone else told you it wasn't realistic, or worse, because someone else's bottom line is afraid of yours.

What's your bottom line? Are your actions in integrity with it? What would it look like if you were being someone driven by your honest-to-goodness and true bottom line? If it's not who you're being, or what you're doing today, it might be worth a second look at what is not aligned.

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