Troy Worman asked me to write a guest post on his blog while he's off traipsing about on vacation. I really like the quote I riffed off in the post, so I decided I should post it here as well...
"There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
- James Truslow Adams
along the way, you've probably learned how to make a living. It's
entirely likely that you have even learned how to thrive while making a
living. But do you know how to live?
Is your life rich and
vibrant? Does what you do energize you? Do you feel like what you do
has meaning? If not, it might be time to go back to school
I see a lot of people sell themselves
short because they've bought the myth that work is a four letter word.
They resign themselves to making a living without living a vibrant life.
truth is, making a living and a vibrant life aren't mutually exclusive.
In fact, making a living can be a source of vibrance in your life, if
you approach it right.
If you make decisions based on what
really lights you up at a core level, use the gifts that naturally flow
for you, and put them to work towards something that feels meaningful
to you, your work will feed you. It will become a source of energy and
joy, rather than something to grit your teeth and grind on through.
[Oh, and if you're wondering where to start, my e-book is a great first step. It gives you an easily understood, easily applied framework for the journey.]
Humans didn't evolve to function in isolation. We are inherently social creatures, and community and connection has been an important piece of the puzzle from the onset.
So why do so many of us insist on "doing it alone" when we're wired to "do it together?"
Kirsten Johnson over at dream big has a great post on our need for the support of others. She points out how vitally important it is to ask for help, and offers some great questions.
when we ask for help, we are vulnerable and we are real. and maybe most importantly, we are not alone. by inviting others in we invite not only help but new perspectives and new ideas. two brains thinking together about one person's life can move things forward at a whole different pace.
what gets in the way of you asking for help?
what help do you want to ask for?
what agreements could you make with the people you love to make asking for help easier?
On a side note, Kirsten's blog is consistently fabulous, so if you haven't checked it out, you should. It's woth reading.
Every once in a while an exchange that takes place in comments feels like it should be a blog post of its own. A few days ago Stacy Brice posed a question in response to a recent post on visualization. She said:
...what do you create for yourself if you're simply not a visual kind of
person, and you can't imagine/visualize in the way talked about here?
Here was my response:
I have a challenging time with maintaining the visual element of
visualization myself...One thing I have found helpful for myself is creating mini-collages
focused on a specific theme. They're almost like visualization
I cut pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 card stock in half to make two 5
1/2 x 8 1/2 cards, go through a stack of old magazines and cut out the
pictures that call to me in light of the specific subject, and make a
series of mini-collages.
But, as Stacy asked, what to do with them once you've created them? Here are a couple ways I use them:
Constant visual reminders. Keep them at your desk, or wherever
you spend a lot of time. Every once in a while throughout the day, stop
and focus on a card for a moment, close your eyes, and let your mind
imagine. The nice thing about creating multiple small cards is that you can
keep changing them so they don't start to just blend into the
Meditation tools. Using the cards as something to focus on during meditation.
A couple days ago I wrote a post about the value of uncertainty. Here's a great article on the Idea Champions site (found via Innovation Weblog) that echoes that idea. I love the way they describe confusion.
There is no need to fight confusion. Let it be. It's a stage you must
pass through on your road to creation. Fighting confusion only makes it
worse - like trying to clean a dirty pond by poking at it with a stick.
And, besides, even while your conscious mind is telling you you're
confused, your subconscious mind is processing a mile a minute to come
up with some pretty amazing solutions. In the shower. While your
exercising. Driving home from work. Even in your dreams.
I love the imagery of trying to clean a dirty pond by poking at it with a stick.
I see that all the time in my work with clients helping them find passion in their careers. The people who are able to get the most out of the process are the ones who are able to embrace the uncertainty, do the work, and let it unfold. By not trying to force clarity, they are better equipped to find it.
When people start fixating on finding "the answer" as quickly as possible, they often get in their own way. The fact that they don't have the answer yet becomes a source of stress, and that becomes an irritant that prevents them from being as open to where the journey might go. They end up stirring up the pond with that stick.
How does happiness happen? Is there some magic formula that - if you can just find it - will transform your life? Is there some big, dramatic change you can make that will open the door to life with a big ol' smile?
According to this article, the answer is no. As the author, Rabbi Tom Meyer, says, "Life is composed of thousands and thousands of small moments," and that's where happiness happens.
So how do we cultivate happiness? Meyer has a suggestion...
Spend three days looking for your moments of happiness. Every time you feel a true shot of pleasure, notice it. You'll see that sometimes they are few and far between - not because there aren't many chances to feel them, but because you're worrying or focusing on what isn't going right.
Each moment can be filled with pleasure. If you were suddenly able to see or hear for the first time, you'd be filled with joy for at least a whole day.
Looking at a flower, seeing a friend walking toward you, enjoying something you're eating -- all of these are moments of happiness.
Happiness is an attitude of noticing the good constantly coming our way.
Sounds easy enough, right? So why does it seem to be so hard? Meyer notes...
The trick of it is to get into the habit of looking for good things, instead of griping all day about what's going wrong...We're often so consistently programmed to look for the bad or take our blessings for granted, that we become oblivious to all the interesting, pleasurable and good things around us.
In a nutshell, it's all about shifting your focus. It starts, not so much with changing your life, but with changing how you opt to experience life.
One of the most frustrating things I see my clients encounter is that state of not knowing. There's an uncomfortable space where they recognize that where they've been no longer works, but they don't have a clue where to go from here, or how to get there.
Uncertainty makes us uneasy. It feels dangerous. It feels frustrating because we don't have "the answers" and we don't know what to do. And we're always supposed to know what to do, right?
When I hear people getting spooled up about not knowing, I always say, "You don't know where you're going, and you don't know how to get there? GREAT!"
That state of uncertainty is where it all begins. It's the most fertile soil for growing something new. It's a kind of primordial soup, out of which you can identify what's right for you, not just what's habit, or what's been handed to you in the past.
When you reach a state of "I don't know," you start to let go of all the things you think you know, because they're not giving you the answer. In a way, that state of not knowing wipes the slate clean and lets you start looking at the with fresh eyes.
When the uncertainty becomes strong enough we have the opportunity to realize, "What I thought I knew obviously hasn't been working. I need to be open to looking at this in an entirely new way if I want to get past this." And that blows the doors of possibility wide open, because we're not keeping ourselves trapped.
So I say, viva la befuddlement! It's the first step to something amazing on the other side.
When I started my Passion Catalyst work, I thought my focus was 100% on career. Of course, I was wrong. Because of the nature of what I do - helping people align themselves with who they really are and what they're naturally drawn to - the work ends up touching numerous facets of my clients' lives, not just career.
Why? Because it's all interconnected. We don't live in work silos and personal silos. What affects one part of our life affects the other parts of our life as well. You aren't a collection of individually functioning widgets and gadgets, you're a whole system.
The last item on my overview of the benefits of career passion is enhanced relationships. Being on the passion track in your career has a positive effect on your relationships because half of each of those relationships - that is to say, you - is happy with how you are spending a big chunk of your time.
Many clients have said to me at some point in the process, "You know, my (spouse/partner) told me that I'm a lot more enjoyable to be around now." But it's not just relationships with significant others that loving your work affects. It's any relationship you have in your life. Co-workers. Kids. Friends. You name it.
When you're unhappy, or frustrated, or feeling powerless and stuck, that can't help but seep into other parts of your life. It can't help but affect the interactions you have with others.
On the flipside, if you're feeling happy, energized, and full of possibility, that is going to color how you approach and experience everything else in your life. You've got more energy to put into relationships. You're less cranky and more inclined to be patient because you aren't already close to that frustration point.
Loving your work doesn't guarantee great relationships - like anything, that takes work. But it does set the stage for carrying the way that work makes you feel into every other corner of your life.
Want a simple litmus test for whether it's time to explore a career change? Ask yourself this question:
"Will I be happy five years from now?"
Five years from now, can you see yourself being happy with where the path you're on takes you? If the answer is no, it's time to think seriously about change.
If you can't see yourself being happy five years from now, not committing to change is the same as saying, "I commit to being unhappy." There's no sugar-coating that. If you can see that you're on the wrong path, and you opt to stay on that path, your situation in the future is entirely your own doing.
Nothing is going to improve unless you take action to make it happen. If you can see that you're on the wrong path, odds are good that five years further down that same path won't make it better. In fact, it will probably make it worse.
You'll note I'm not talking about immediate, right-now career change (unless that works for you). The truth is that for most people substantial career change is a multi-year process, from the first glimmer of exploration to the nuts and bolts of making it happen. Change that isn't possible right now is often possible over time.
I'm talking about stepping up and doing something. Admitting that things are out of wack, and accepting that it's not going to get right unless you start taking steps to do something about it. Your career change might be a dramatic big plunge, or it might happen incrementally over the next four years.
The key is not accepting the inertia of the wrong path. If you can't see yourself as happy in the future based on the path you're on, jump the rut and starting taking steps right now to change your future.
Over the last couple months, I've finally started drumming on a semi-regular basis. I'm still very much in that beginner stage where I'm just trying to create a foundation that I can build on as I improve.
One of the things I've gotten better at is keeping my own beat, regardless of what is going on around me. In the beginning it was challenging to stay on track with my own drumming when someone else went off on an improvisational tangent. I would get lost.
I started noticing the difference last weekend, drumming around a bonfire on the beach (at Golden Gardens, for those of you in Seattle). I was much more in synch with my own internal rhythm. When someone would go off on an improvisational tangent, I would just keep going, and eventually it would all converge again. I was spending less time feeling lost and more time being immersed in the drumming.
Of course, I made the immediate association with career passion. When you are in synch with your own internal rhythm, it's much easier to keep going on your path without getting distracted by what others are doing or saying around you.
So often I see people get bounced around in their careers. They turn this direction, then that direction. Their rhythm is scattered and broken because they are getting distracted by what people say they should do, external expectations, old ideas about how their career needs to look, etc. They get lost.
When they find that solid internal rhythm, the external noise is less distracting. It becomes easier to be true to their own beat and maintain it consistently, regardless of what is going on around them.
And when you are in a groove with your own rhythm, and are comfortable there, doors begin to open and magic starts to happen.