Searching for professional meaning
January 14, 2009 2 Comments
Periodically I have an overwhelming realization that I am not fully connecting my passion with my work…that I have some bigger purpose in life, still undiscovered…or maybe just ignored for the safety of a reliable income. While I enjoy the work that I do (graphic design, writing and photography) I often think about how I could be using my talents to bring about meaningful change in some capacity. This feeling may be a hallmark of hitting your 40s and 50s. It’s no longer about how high the ladder goes, but about making sure the ladder is leaning against the right wall to begin with. Or as a friend of mine recently put it upon returning from a two-month sabbatical in Korea, coming down off the ladder and recognizing that life CAN be a meandering path if you are willing to listen to your heart.
At one time the dream for me was to quit my corporate job and start my own business. Eleven successful business years later, I want more. I know intuitively that I want to get satisfaction – even joy – out of each waking, working moment, but I am aware that my activities do not always support my intentions. To some degree many of us are guilty of putting our professional and even our personal lives on autopilot. We drift along when the waters are smooth, only turning our attention to certain activities when the waters get choppy. Now is one of those choppy times for many of my friends and colleagues. People suddenly start nurturing their network, re-evaluating their skills, questioning their employability. Will they get laid off? Are they employable elsewhere? Will they lose the big client? The question of work that has deeper meaning seems to have less relevance when we are in a position of desperation.
There is never a bad time to focus on the call of your heart. It you have a professional or personal aspiration that is somewhat unconventional or has less potential for income, be sure that you are still taking steps toward that dream even as you review the want ads or search for clients that pay the bills rather than fire up your heart. If you want to write a book, commit to writing a page a day or writing for two hours every Saturday. If you would prefer to get off the fast track and work in the non-profit sector helping others, develop relationships by volunteering on boards of directors of organizations that you care about. Want to lead fishing expeditions when you retire? Start planning one a month now and develop a clientele. It is a daunting task to head in a completely new direction from nothing, with no contacts or experience. But if you’ve been dabbling at your passion all along, the pink slip could be a blessing in disguise…and you just may have more courage to go in the direction of your heart.