What is the purpose of working? Is it just a paycheck, a way to buy stuff? Or is it an expression of your values, talents and skills? For most of us in the U.S. it is a combination of both. Far too many of us view work as a necessary evil to be tolerated in order to live a preferred lifestyle. Given the number of hours we spend working, what does that say about our overall happiness? If we view work as drudgery, how can we experience a fulfilling meaningful life?
I propose a different perspective on work. How about looking at work as a vehicle to joyfully express your talents, skills, and creativity and make a difference in the world? It would be great if we came with directions for our life internally imprinted so that we’d know exactly what vocational path to travel. As the poet Rumi said, “everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in his (or her) heart.” It seems to me that doing work you love to do get’s you closer to uncovering your heart’s desire than doing work you dislike.
One way to identify potentially fulfilling kinds of work, is to look at your natural gifts and talents. Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing and do well such as: building boats, organizing data, healing emotional distress, keeping track of timelines. Joe, for example, has a talent for taking complex technical information and translating it into terms non-techies can understand. Not only does he do this competently, he really enjoys the process. When he is working on a project, he becomes so engaged in it that he typically loses track of time. The hours fly by and he finds he is energized rather than exhausted at the end of his workday. Joe is perhaps doing “the work that has been put in (his) heart”, as Rumi states.
We often think there is some profound “calling” to heed and that one day we will figure out what that is. In reality, callings don’t often show up with a job title. Instead of seeking that perfect career, that “dream job” consider finding a way to create income doing those tasks you do well and love to do.
Megan is a mosaic artist who loves to take beautiful pieces of colored glass and make everything from bird baths to address tiles. She teaches classes on mosiac making, and sells her products from her home studio, at shows and on the internet.
Take a moment, make your list, and listen to what your heart is telling you. What do YOU love to do that you do well? Get input from your friends and family. You may be surprised at the talents they recognize in you. See if you can come up with a list of 10 things and then look at how you may be able to generate income doing some of them.
More on this topic next post!
“Everyone has a vocation, talent is the call.” -Emerson