Blogging is beautiful.. and vaguely clinical. What else can give you an excuse to metaphorically examine your own axon terminals to be sure neurotransmitters are flowing correctly.. in your synapse, whatever. You can literally sit yourself down in your own shrink-like couch and self-quiz yourself quizzically.. to make sure that you are operating under ideal mental conditions and proper intellectual biases… I done it. (In case you ain’t notice, turns out I’m crazy… my readings are off the charts..) If learning to operate your life optimally is important to you, blogging may help you sort out your own thoughts and feelings so thoroughly that someone else, who may or may not know you, can make easy sense of them. Such was the case with my last post, which was one of those clinical blog posting experiences for me.
I wrote and published the post quickly and without thinking deeply about what the heck I had written. Something didn’t sit quite right with me. I went back and read it. Discovered what it was. Went looking for some answers. Found them from unexpected sources. After thinking and mulling all day, I came back and fixed my folly. I went through a poignant and progressive learning experience while writing this silly blog that only me, my mom, and Rusty reads.
And what I ended up with is a perfectly clear understanding, for which I am grateful. For umpteen billion years I’ve put undue pressure on myself to find what I love to do, what I’m passionate about, and found my life’s work upon whatever that passion turned out to be—and I would accept nothing short of that perfection. I had failed to even allow for the possibility that maybe my passions, or whatever I enjoy the most in life, are not solely employed in the marketplace.. that maybe I can pursue excellence in a menial career that I at least enjoy enough to pursue excellence in… and seek my life’s work and fulfillment elsewhere, outside of a humdrum career.. in more personally fulfilling environments.
Here it is straight (my aha moment): So what if a guy can’t find a job or career he enjoys? Tough two lips. Reality is that a dude has to provide for his family anyways. Therein lives his manhood, the fulfillment of a sacred calling and commandment from God. Regardless of whether or not he’s passionate about his career, more importantly, his career is the livelihood of his loved ones.
In utter amazement, I confess that this fleeting matter of flitting away life in search of the perfect, passion-filled career, turned out to be just this simple: If no passions at all can be found in the workplace, then find something that at least you do well and learn to enjoy it. Have a good attitude, buckle down, strap in, work hard, be steady, and make sure you give yourself time to pursue fulfillment in the form of healthy passions, whatever and wherever they turn out to be. If you find your life’s passion and fulfillment in your workplace, pin a rose on your nose. I’m just talking out loud here. Bling.
Last night I decided something that is very much proverbial and earth-shattering in my life. I now consider myself grown up. Yeah, I didn’t before. I really didn’t. For years I have maintained an underlying emotional attachment to school that affected my professional life (I’ve just now realized this) as if school was an emotional crutch or a “loser’s limp” that held me back. Now, with no strings… to hold me down to make me fret or make me frown (hmm.. where did that line come from? Oh. Pinocchio?), I get to float off into a world that is completely mine… for the first time… and it’s been nothing short of a beautiful mess. I like it.
I am now officially allowed to be a professional something—a semi-serious emphasis on the word “something” please. Whether I’ve got the professional green light or not, the identity of that “something” has been inextricably elusive, though at times quite clear (try making sense of that one).
I’ve long thought that life would be happy and full if that “something,” or career, is involved with, or contributes to, one’s passions and purpose in life. That would be ideal. So, naturally, I’ve sought for the ideal.
But therein lay a problem. If one’s passion can at all be found in one’s career, which there is no guarantee that it will, how does one who has the expectations to make such a discovery settle for something else… something more lucrative, flashy, or secure and steady… and live with it? Because one’s passions in life are difficult to uncover and make place for, most people don’t know what their passions are. Conversely, it seems that those who do know what their passions are, can’t seem to find contentment and they go gallivanting off in search of another passion when they get bored of the first. Most work a job they don’t enjoy, it’s true. I’ve done it. So what? What if my passions in life have nothing to do with making money? What then? Am I doomed to a miserable life of slavery? Hmm.. Interesting thought.
Which brings a question to the forefront, if we get along relatively well without finding our passion in life, what use is it to know your passion and, if possible, form a life’s work around it? Does your passion and career have to be one in the same? Or can they differ and still provide meaningful fulfillment? Decide for yourself.
What is my passion? Where is my purpose? I’m lucky to have a glimpse at least, but even with that glimpse, at times I’ve cared too much that the potential material gains that await me for pursuing my passions and purpose are somewhat lacking… so I get bored and go off looking for greener things… and have yet to find fulfillment in doing so. I’ve learned my folly. Hmmm… thinking out loud, it’s easy to see that the lack of fulfillment can be attributed to the unmet expectation, likely a false expectation, that my career must be one in the same with my passion and purpose.
What you can learn from kids about your life’s work: Since I was a kid I’ve been asked the same simple question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m still asked that simple question and I still don’t quite know how to simply answer it—even though now is the time for me to be whatever it was I wanted to be when I looked forward to growing up (The doctor says I’m done growing).
Children are smart. That simple question is repeated again and again to even the smallest of children and they answer without hesitancy. They’ve made up their minds and are content with their future livelihoods as super heroes or whatnot. A five year old has no concept of livelihood and yet he answers so assuredly “I wanna be a fireman!” He has no idea that in some states the members of the fire department are all volunteers—an unpaid position. Curious. A child cares not for the material, he follows his heart to find his “passion” through other means than that of monetary nature.
My story is interesting. I’ve learned a lot from most of it and am still trying to sort out and learn from the rest of it… as it continues on shifting and shaping into what is known as my life. Recently, my resolutions to be successful have taken on new meaning for me. I want to make a difference in the world in the way that I was born to make a difference, sure. My passions and purpose are to that end, but not necessarily intertwined with a specific career path. I can be content with that. One brilliant man whom I admire said, “It is better to be steady than to be brilliant.” Chose a career, work hard, and be steady. Manifest your brilliance by following whatever passions uncover themselves along your pathway of life. In a sense, I’ve come full circle and have learned for myself the wisdom in that simple answer of a simple child, “I wanna be a fireman.”
I just found this great article by someone who knows what he’s talking about. Paul Graham writes about How to do What You Love. Earth shattering news: You don’t have be doing what you love to have fulfillment in life. Work hard at whatever you do, be consistent, and find your passion and fulfillment wherever you can find them. Penelope Trunk, (I have no idea who she is), writes another appropriate post Bad Career Advice: Do What You Love. And there’s a great discussion about finding your passion in life and doing what you love at GetRichSlowly.com. He quotes the same Paul Graham essay. Bling.