Sunday, March 28th, 2010
Lately I’ve been noticing a trend in the online career sphere – Finding your true calling.
Most career writers, coaches and counselors want you to believe that you are meant to do one thing and when we get to do this one thing we will work happily ever after.
What a crock!
You can probably list at least 10 things you good at. You may enjoy writing, sex, sewing, fishing, editing, teaching, building, chewing gum, analyzing, drinking beer, and many other things. So you may think that you need to do one of these things or all of these things to be happy.
If only I could ___________. (Fill in the blank of what you wish you could really do for a living.)
Isn’t that what we tell ourselves?
We think, “If only I could do this one thing,” or to take a step further back, “If only I knew the one thing that would make me feel excited to go to work every day.”
My heart feels for you. I used to believe the same thing.
Your Singing Heart
We feel this need to do great work that will let our hearts sing. Your heart can sing in so many ways. It can sing for family, hobbies, and your career.
I guarantee that everyone who loves what they do could probably try 5 other related careers and still be happy. In fact the truly happy ones have a diverse career that allows them to apply many of their strengths. They know that every career has some crappy parts that drive them crazy, but they focus on the good stuff to prevent themselves from going crazy.
You want this one thing to be your savior because maybe you are unhappy right now. This is understandable, but the focus is all wrong.
OK, here comes another painful blow. The problem is not your job, it’s you. I know that hurts, but it’s true. Before you get too upset – I do believe that you have strengths and passions and you need to use them at your job, but those things can’t be done if you don’t have a good understanding of your core needs.
The core you needs to be happy before you can connect with your work. That means you need to know what your needs are and how to meet them.
There are often circumstances that make it difficult to meet your needs.
I’ve been bullied at work. I’ve been starved for a raise for years. I’ve been disliked by my some of my co-workers. I’ve hated my work. Yes this makes it hard, but after I passed this period I looked back and reflected on all the things I had learned. Some of the hardest stuff taught me my most valuable lessons. I’ve talked about being called a monkey by a former boss. I’ve talked about being bullied at work. All these troubles brought me closer to my true self.
When you are able to appreciate your true self for all the joy that you can feel, then you can do work that connects you to a deeper purpose. I know that’s what these writers are trying to talk about, but they don’t tell you that your true calling isn’t perfect. They forget to mention that this new thing that you thought you would love will bore you, frustrate you, and at times break your heart. You didn’t realize that all the work on the back end would be so tedious or maybe you miscalculated your needs. There are always problems wherever you are and in everything you do.
Maybe you love to knit little sock monkeys and sell them online. Maybe you think this is your life purpose. But in reality you need a 9 to 5 job so you can pay the bills. That’s ok. Maybe you can’t jump in and do sock monkeys full time, but maybe in 5 years you can. You keep building your presence online or network in your community to make this dream a reality. You start a blog and create a local club of homemade sock monkey lovers and expand your network. I know 5 years sounds like a lot of time, but believe me it will go by quickly when you are focused on taking small steps to make your dream a reality.
Most of my unhappiness was coming from within me, not from the work that I was doing.
I must admit that if you want to make your heart truly sing, you do have to do work that is worth doing. You have to do work that connects you to a larger purpose.
When you work on developing your “core you” in your present job, you are creating the foundation to be happy in every task that you do. When you are finding joy in everything that you do, you will begin to identify your strengths and learn how to optimize them in your career.
All the great career artists never did just one thing well. They expanded themselves at every opportunity. Oprah started in radio, moved on to anchor local evening news and because of her talents for ad-libbing she pushed her way into day time TV. Eventually she was given her own show. Do you think that she knew her true calling from the start? Nope. She invested all her time and energy into doing that one thing well and then she took the next step up. Does she still do things she hates? Yes. She hates evaluating her employees. She does it because it’s part of the protocol when running a business.
Oprah uses all her talents to help people. She has television shows, magazines, websites, and she can act too. You’ve seen The Color Purple. Wonderful performance.
The core you needs to understand your needs before you can do work that changes the world.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t keep taking small steps toward discovering the type of work that increases your happiness. I’m saying that you should use your present job to become happier, smarter and more confident.
You need to take small steps to discover how you can enjoy your work right now, so when you are doing work that makes your heart sing you can truly be amazing.
* Are you on Twitter? Then join over 3,000 people who get my stress relief tips, happiness ideas, and thought provoking quotes. @workhappynow
* Darren Rowse of Problogger wrote a simple and great post about 4 Foundations of a Successful Blog.
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