My column in the Kenosha News, last Monday:
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.— Howard Thurman
What makes you feel alive?
You may be able to answer quickly, or you might have to think long and hard.
I didn’t ask what you do for a living. I didn’t ask about your family or friends.
In a best-case scenario, your job would be something you find fulfilling and invigorating. Hopefully, there are parts of your vocational responsibilities that really resonate with you.
Relationships give life meaning. It is so much more fun, if you have someone with you to share an experience. The best part of seeing something beautiful is sharing it with someone you love, and discussing it with them. The best part of a joke is re-telling it, and watching someone laugh.
But let’s go a little deeper.
What breathes life into your soul and refreshes you?
For me, it is writing, saying something that is so honest, other people wish they had said it.
In past jobs, I have loved relating to people, leading teams to accomplish something big, and communicating creatively.
These are vocational passions.
But, as we know, all work and no play is unhealthy. So, we need diversions, things that refresh us when we take a break from those vocational activities.
I find that type of refreshment in being outdoors, walking or biking, in being on the beach, in photography, in reading, in travel, in experiencing great art, music, movies, and festivals.
In all honesty, many people never get around to thinking about these things. Life is so busy, and our responsibilities are so heavy, thinking about what invigorates us seems like a guilty pleasure.
Unfortunately, certain people believe it is their mission in life to tell you what you “should’” or “ought” to do. That’s demoralizing, presumptuous, and just plain wrong. Nobody likes it.
That attitude presumes that another person knows as much, or even more about you, than you do yourself. Such people are usually heavy on opinion, and short on facts. It’s pushy to try to impose your paradigm on someone else.
There are a few rare appropriate occasions for “shoulds” and “oughts,” But, they are way over used.
My advice is to not let anyone “should,” on you, and you certainly, shouldn’t “should” on yourself.
If you give your full attention to your passion, it would probably scare the heck out of some people, as they begin to see the power of you being who you were meant to be.
I am not advocating that you call your boss tomorrow and quit your day job so you can move to Hollywood to become a movie star. I am advocating that you do a gut check to see if you are on track to being who you really are. Then you can take some baby steps like self-evaluation, vocational fact-finding and beginning your pursuit one step at a time.
Once you find your inner driving force, it will not be all sweetness and light. It will be a battle, but, at least, it’s a battle you really care about.
Some would say this is simply embracing unrealistic ideas for employment. I say you will be best at what you care about the most. The world will be a better place, if you are in the right place. Those people who are really good at what they do, love their job.
What have you enjoyed and been good at in the past? What do you think about in the shower? What is your go-to way of looking at things or thinking about them? What gives you the greatest emotional payback? What is the way you help people or make the world a better place? If you didn’t have geographical or financial limitations, what would you like to do?
There is amazing power in getting aligned with who you really are, rather than trying to fulfill someone else’s expectations. It takes knowing yourself, and a lot of courage, and perseverance, but you can do it.