As most of you know, I’m a football coach. I coached at the college level, and was a head coach or coordinator at the high school level for a decade.
It’s in my blood. I come from a small town where football is king. You are expected to play from birth, and it’s an honor to get the jersey number worn by your brothers, uncles, cousins, etc.
I was taught from a young age, “football is what you are supposed to do.”
The world says we are supposed to do a lot of things, doesn’t it?
- You are supposed to go to college.
- You are supposed to go get a job, working 9 to 5 for someone else.
- You are supposed to get in debt up to your eyeballs and buy a house, two cars, etc.
Just like my town taught “you were born here, you are supposed to play football.”
So the other day I took Isaac to sign up for flag football. I was excited. My boy was finally old enough to play the game I loved. I dreamed of coaching him someday, and was excited to see him out on a the field. This is what he was supposed to do, after all.
Problem was, when we got there, Isaac threw a fit. He screamed, sat down, and flat out told me “no, I’m not playing football, I don’t like football, I don’t ever want to play.”
I was disappointed, even embarrassed. Here I am, a football coach, and my own son was totally going crazy on me about playing football!
I took him over by the fence and had him watch the other boys try out for a bit.
“See Isaac, doesn’t that look fun?” I asked.
“NO Daddy, take me home, please take me home, I don’t like football. Why do I have to play?”
At that moment I could have said any number of things, but the words that came out of my mouth were:
“Because son, that’s what everyone here does, and that is what you are supposed to do…that’s just the way it is!”
As soon as I said it, I realized how hypocritical it sounded.
I mean…that’s what people told me my whole life. Do what you are supposed to do. Go to school. Go to work. Live this way, that’s how life is…hard, debt, no time…its just the way it is, nothing you can do about it!
But the thing is, that’s just not the truth. Life doesn’t have to be the way “it’s supposed to be.”
In 2012, Jocelyn and I decided to change our lives. We decided to do what WE wanted to do, not what everyone else thought we should do.
We got sick of working for other people. We got sick of the world telling us what our priorities should be and how we should spend our time.
So we did the very things people said we were not supposed to do! We found a way to make money online, and we were able to quit our 9 to 5 jobs! We found the freedom to choose our own destiny, instead of our lives being dictated to us by the expectations of others.
People called us irresponsible, told us we had “flipped out” when we quit our jobs.
“But you have good jobs, you might never get them back!” they said.
“It’s a tough economy, you are lucky to have the jobs you do!” they said.
“What if you fail? You have so much security. You are supposed to play it safe!” they said.
Jocelyn and I stopped doing what we were “supposed to do” and started living life on our own terms. We did what we wanted to do, we bucked the status quo.
We even teach other people that they can do the same!
And here I was, telling my own son…you have to do what you are supposed to do. You have to meet the status quo. You have to work when they say work, go when they say go, play what they say to play.
I looked down at Isaac. He had tears running down his cheek.
I knelt down beside him, picked him up and started walking back to the car. I was still disappointed, even mad that I wouldn’t get to watch him play flag football, but I knew I couldn’t make him play if he didn’t want to.
On the way home, we got stopped at a red light. I turned and asked, “Isaac, what do you like to do?”
He responded without a thought, “I like to swim, Daddy.”
The next day we took Isaac to our local gym and signed him up for a swim team that meets on Mondays and Thursdays. Not a travel team, more a swimming club than anything else. But they learn technique, race each other, and have tons of fun.
I was still a little disappointed on the way to swim practice, because I wanted to watch Isaac play football. Sometime in the future, he might want to try football.
But that time is not now, and if he ever does it will be because he wants to, not because I made him…or because the world pressured him into it.
The disappointment is totally forgotten now.
Isaac is so happy at swim practice. And so am I! I love to watch him practice his laps and learn new strokes. I’ve always loved to swim for exercise, and now I can enjoy it with Isaac as he gets better in the pool.
I’m so glad that I didn’t make Isaac play football. I can’t imagine him being out there, doing something he hated just because that’s what he was “supposed” to do.
It makes me think of the years I spent working for other people. Did I hate my jobs? No. But did I constantly dream of doing something different with my life?
So the moral of my experience with trying to get Isaac to play football is this:
The world is wrong folks.
You don’t have to do what you are supposed to do, no matter what “they” say!
If you are sick of where you are, you CAN move! If you are not making enough money, you CAN make more! If you don’t like where you work, you CAN find another job!
You just have to find the courage to make it happen, and ignore the voices telling you that you can’t. Life is too short to do things you don’t want to do, or get stuck in a career someone else decided was good for you.
You are not stuck in that job, you can make more money, and you can do what you want to do.
Will it be a challenge? Yes. Will you disappoint some people? Probably. Will it take time and sacrifice? 100%. Will people call you crazy? Ha! You have no idea!
The bottom line is this…You don’t have to do what you don’t want to do!
It’s your life.
If you like to swim, than don’t play football…swim!
Today’s question is the same one I asked Isaac in the car, “What do you want to do?”
Share in the comments.