For me, work has always been a great indicator of happiness. Right or wrong, it has been the strongest mirror of who I am, what I needed to change internally as I bumped up the contrast of what I didn’t love. It was how I spent the majority of my day so I felt it would be a good way to assess the greatest potential for happiness.
Even though work is only one component of my life, it does serve a great litmus test about my essence.
It was natural for me to see what happiness might look for me, in the context of work. It was the most tangible “laboratory” I could find by tweaking what I didn't like about it.
I've worked for a variety of companies that I could pool into loved/not-so-much-loved by means of my talent portfolio: Non-profit (small), for profit (local, global), and government in a wide range of industries: Entertainment, Financial Services, Psychiatric, Retail,Travel, Utilities in a number of type of roles: Secretary, Office Manager, Director, Consultant, Contractor, Technical Writer, Policies and Procedures Analyst, Project Manager. Not to mention the talents I've acquired outside of work: Conservator of Person and Estate, Caregiver, Daughter, Sibling, Wife, etc.
Using that vast inventory, I then began to look at the types of things I was really good at AND loved (because I can be good at a lot of things that I hate), then drilled down to the core of each. For instance, I’m really good and fast at organizing complex and disparate facets of a company or project. As I drilled down, I realized that what the reason why I really loved to do that was to create a path of ease for others to do their best work and contribute to the overall end objective. So, helping people is a big deal to me.
When I got down to the core of what I love (because my goal is to fill the space of my life with only those things that I love most), I started to imagine what that life might look like. It involved a flexible work schedule, not just in hours but environment (freedom), connecting people and teams who were confined to their work boxes (connection) to help them do their jobs in an uplifting way (fun), doing things my way that have never been done before (creativity), and being my goofy self (authenticity) to allow others know that it was safe for them to be the same as well.
I also wanted to work for a company that had benefits, a safe environment with nice people where I would be forced to stretch and contribute to the overall good of many people in a way that was uniquely mine.
Then, I took action by prepping my resume, talking with people casually about what it I wanted my life to look like, then started looking for jobs.
Of course, I didn’t find a job description that stated, looking for a goofy person who connects people using her/his unique abilities creatively in an environment that offers a flexible work schedule job and nice people, but the really weird thing is that I did find a job that offered every single aspect of that and more.
I found a tribe of creative, authentic, and kind folks to serve by way of connecting teams across a highly complex company facing challenging circumstances, all the while being free to be be wholly me in a very ethical, regulated, conservative and good company with great benefits.
It was part manifestation, part feeling the feelings that I wanted to have, but mostly, clarity about what I wanted and the guts to just put it out there and take something that, at first glance, wasn’t exactly what I wanted.
I have found that things take on a crazy continuity of working out for my very best when I just do something towards where I want to go.
Taking it farther, the idea of my purpose in life, this notion of my mission has surfaced. Although I’m exercising components of right now of fully loving self-actualized life, I suspect this will continue to evolve as I grow. While preserving elements of my essence that I currently exercise, I admit that I really don’t know what will unfold specifically….that just hasn’t surfaced yet, but I know it will as I continue to allow myself to be pulled upward to a life that I won't need a vacation from, as they say.
Here's the thing - many members of my family passed away or became too ill to enjoy retirement. I know how fragile life is so I am determined to live my life now, rather than savoring it retirement style. I really don't know how may days I have left in this life so why not live it now?
In short, it's not really about the job but rather, how I am living my life...in my current job and elsewhere because it's all the same thing.
This was one of the most meaningful investments of my time because it’s so comprehensive:
- Nicholas Lore’s The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success. It was a deep exercise and one of the time well-spent in honest reflection.