Stop trading money for meaning. Start blowing up the dilemma by investing money — and much more significantly, time, energy, attention, relationships, imagination, and passion — in the stuff of a life meaningfully well lived. Any fool with an empty wallet, a gimlet eye, and an emptier head can sell his soul; just as any dilettante can trade meaning for money, and glorify themselves as a starving artist. The greater challenge in any life isn’t merely extracting the highest price for your soul; nor safeguarding your soul while opportunities pass you by — but earning, with the coin of mattering, a life that has counted in the terms that make us not merely “rich”, but whole, worthy of the privilege of having lived.
Let me put that in real-world terms.
You’re 25. You’re finally offered a job at the corporobotic blue-chip institution your less interesting acquaintances have always dreamt of working at. Turn it down. Start the next Kickstarter instead.
You’re 35. You’re finally offered the big jump to VP. Take it — and then damn your first year’s bonus, make your first major project redesigning a product line that matters.
You’re 45. You’re sidelined. Quit. Start something that makes you feel something again.
You’re 55. You’re fired. Don’t panic. Use your wisdom; mentor, coach, teach, lead.
Let me put that even more simply. You’re going to need to apply not just the following professional skills — entrepreneurship; “networking,” pluck and drive, strategic thinking, leadership, branding and marketing — but also the following human capacities: a stubborn refusal to obey the dictates of the status quo, an unwavering empathy, a healthy disrespect for the naysayers, the humility of the servant and the pride of the master artisan, a persevering sense of grace, a heaping spoonful of that most dangerously unpredictable of substances, love, and, finally, the unflinching belief in a better tomorrow that those have always had who dust their saddles off, dig their spurs in, and forge ahead into the great unknown.