Falling in Love With Any Work You Do

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Falling in Love With Any Work You Do
Like most high school and college students, I went through a lot of summer jobs.

I was a hostess at Applebee’s. I worked in a Ford Motor Company plant where I drove a hi-lo, picking car parts to ship off to assembly plants around the world. I was a bartender at a dive bar outside Detroit, a waitress at a sushi restaurant back when the only customers were Japanese, and I managed a chain of tanning salons.

I absolutely loved every one of those jobs.

I’m not kidding. I mean, I loved them. I still keep in touch with people from nearly every one of those jobs. My family teased me endlessly for crying on the last day of each job as I left to return to school in the fall.

As an adult in the grown-up working world, my experiences weren’t always as wonderful. My first professional jobs out of graduate school felt markedly different from my summer jobs — heavier, more serious, with much more at stake.

Somehow, being in something longer-term that was referred to as a “real” job seemed to have changed my perspective. I started thinking — a lot.

I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about what I was doing and how I was doing it — was I working to my potential? How did my job stack up to others? Was I getting enough opportunities, challenge, pay, accolades?

Should I settle in or continue to look for something better? Was I doing well? What did my colleagues think of me? Did three business trips this month mean I’d have to travel a lot in the future, or was this month a fluke? What did it all mean?

It’s clear to me now that all of that thinking is what changed it for me.

The principles that led to me loving my summer jobs but not my “real” jobs are actually what I study and teach in my career today (for the record, I am positively smitten with the “work” I do today, just like in the good ole’ days).

I help people see that our experience of life comes from within us — from our own thinking — not at all from jobs, outside circumstances, or what what’s going on in the world around us.

And I teach that when our thinking settles down — as it naturally does all the time — our experience of life changes. We get to experience life as it unfolds in front of us rather than simply experiencing our thinking about life.

We get to discover life rather than confirm our theories about it. (In case it’s not obvious, the former tends to be a much richer, more fulfilling experience.)

In my summer jobs, I didn’t have much on my mind. I was in the moment, living in the continual unfolding of life. It was fabulous.

I instantly and easily connected with the people around me and threw myself into tasks that one might think are unimportant or mundane, except I didn’t because I wasn’t thinking so much. I was just being, and it was unbelievably satisfying.

That spirit of simply being and watching life unfold was completely missing in my early “real” jobs. I thought I had to take those jobs very seriously and make things happen by will and discipline.

As a result of that misunderstanding, I wasn’t actually present in those jobs at all; I was lost in my analysis of them.

I remember wracking my brain, trying to figure out where I went wrong in my post-grad jobs. I was doing work that seemed more meaningful and — in theory, anyway — more interesting than anything I had ever done before. Why did it fall so short of my summer experiences?

I did all the career coaching exercises where you look back at features present in work you enjoyed to identify themes and connect dots. Practices that are well-meaning, but firmly rooted in the idea that your happiness comes from what you do rather than how you are.

But as you might imagine, they didn’t work for me because what in the world do serving up drinks, picking auto parts, and frying spring break-bound college students in tanning beds have in common with each other? I liked people? That wasn’t much to go on.

I didn’t get it until I saw that the thread running through the jobs I loved was a lack of thinking about my experience, which made way for more actual experience.

My summer jobs taught me one big thing: I can be happy anywhere. Like seriously, deeply content in any circumstance.

That doesn’t mean I don’t care what I do. We all have innate preferences and things we feel drawn toward.

But I don’t have to do, or avoid doing, anything in particular in order to have a fulfilling life. I don’t particularly want to drive a hi-lo in an auto factory or mix drinks now, but knowing that I could have an amazing life doing those things frees incredibly freeing.

There Must Be a Better Way!
My flexible hours had been eliminated and taking the late train put me home at 6:45 p.m. every night. The company where I worked was going through a merger. I had worked for seven years at a stressful escrow job in the heart of Seattle, Washington.

This situation caused me to think about my passions and how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. At the urging of my supportive husband, I handed in my resignation at the end of 2010. My journey to incorporating a different kind of work into my life began. My family is very important to me and I wanted to carve out time to spend with them instead of having no option but to take time the allotted vacation times.

I renewed my teaching credentials. I had taught elementary school in earlier years and loved it. Raising two daughters alone, even with child support from my former husband, was too stressful because of the lack of income. Thankfully, I did have a career in business to help me through those child rearing years. Now that the children were grown, I was determined to make a change.

I love to write and began reviewing books that I had written 20 years prior that had been sitting in my notebook. This led to my current project of writing, publishing, and marketing a children’s series on wellness topics.

My love for children and books led to volunteering as the National Literacy Ambassador for Xcellence, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting community growth by supporting small businesses and developing youth potential. My goal for this year is promoting our Read Out Loud Program to the Mercy Housing Network across America.

Focusing on my passions of teaching, writing, and helping others to learn to read better has revolutionized my life. I now have the flexibility to see my children more often. That is especially helpful since my two daughters and two grandchildren are now living near Austin, Texas, and I have to book flights to see them.

We all have the same amount of time to figure out how to live the best kind of life for ourselves. If you are in a situation that you would like to change, start by thinking about what steps will get you to the place you want to be. What will you do to advance the passions of your heart? It will be worth it.

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