Maybe the reason we haven’t found it yet is that we’ve been looking in the wrong place.
Once upon a time, a rabbi came across a drunkard who was down on his hands and knees by the base of a lamppost. He was scrabbling around on the sidewalk as if looking for something.
The rabbi said, “My son, are you looking for something? Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for my keys,” replied the drunk man.
“I’ll help,” said the rabbi as he got down on his hands and knees too, and looked all over the area covered by the lamppost’s light. After a thorough search, he said, “I can’t find them. When’s the last time you saw them?”
“Oh, I dropped them over there in that field,” replied the drunk, pointing to a pitch-black field about 100 feet off the side of the road.
“If you know you dropped them in that field, then why are you looking over here?” asked the rabbi.
“Because this is where the light is.”
Have you been looking for job fulfillment under the lamppost, where it’s nice and bright and comfortable? You know, if it were under the lamppost, you would have found it by now.
What if your fulfillment isn’t there at all, but in that dark field off the side of the road?
What’s lost within your dark field?
True fulfillment doesn’t come from chilling out in the light. True fulfillment comes from bringing light to the darkness.
So the first question to ask if you want to find your fulfillment is: What’s your darkness?
In other words:
- What’s the most frustrating issue in your life that you constantly wrestle with?
- What’s the biggest inner obstacle keeping you from feeling fulfilled?
- What are you most ashamed of about yourself?
Wait, you’re telling me that if I want to Work Happy Now, I need to head toward my greatest fear and my deepest shame?
If what you mean by “happy” is “comfortable”, you can do that by just chilling out in the light.
But if you want more than that, yes, you’ll need to journey to the dark places and shine the light on them.
Here’s what that looks like in practical terms.
Summer’s darkness is her integrity. Summer is now the operations manager of a major construction company, but to get there, she made some dodgy deals that she now regrets. At first, she felt proud of her accomplishments, with the added pride of being a successful woman in a male-dominated field, but she hasn’t ever felt truly fulfilled in her career. Now, she’s in a position to cut some corners that would save the company a lot of money at the cost of safety. To find fulfillment, Summer shines light on her darkness and chooses integrity (core value) over success.
Barry’s darkness is his anger. Barry is a celebrated chef, and he often takes out his anger on his subordinates. All the awards he’s won bring him a sense of satisfaction, but not true fulfillment. To find fulfillment, Barry shines light on his darkness by becoming kinder and working more smoothly with his team – while still getting results.
Ophelia’s darkness is self-doubt. Ophelia is an HR manager, and she often second-guesses herself, always afraid that she’s made a bad hire or handled a conflict in the wrong way. This self-doubt makes her feel constantly inadequate, despite glowing reviews from her manager. To find fulfillment, Ophelia shines light on her darkness by practicing meditation to find inner calm, which quiets the voice of self-doubt and grows her confidence.
Over to You
Summer, Barry, and Ophelia didn’t need to quit their jobs or change positions to find true fulfillment. They faced their darkness and found a creative way to shine light on it.
What’s your darkness?
And what’s one way you can shine light on it in your work?
Pace Smith (The Pathfinding Coach) helps sensitive spiritual nonconformists live wild crazy meaningful lives. She’s also a teacher, a speaker, a writer, a Sufi dervish, a bi poly trans gamer geek, an open-source Reiki healer, and a tournament-level Dance Dance Revolution player. Download her free eBook, Find Your Path Now, to STOP living on autopilot and START living the wholehearted, unconventional life you were meant to live.