After a couple of weeks away from my blog I’m back and jumping right into week 4 of the Wholehearted Living Challenge, guidepost 9, Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting go of Self Doubt and “Supposed To”.
This is a mega biggie for me right now.
I love what I do when I’m doing it. As an example, I’ve just spent 4 days in Germany with a Global Account Team facilitating their creation of an innovative vision to elevate and expand the account growth and relationship with their Global customer – a great 4 days with insights, learning, shifts in mindset and new thinking galore.
However, I’m also feeling restless and ready to do something different with my life and ideally (well you’ve got to dream), I’d like to not HAVE TO work. The have to for me is about longer term finances and my fear around financial security – even though things are currently OK. I want to have a stable, secure income to fund my current life and the life I’m creating for the future.
Living lives that have purpose and meaning is a key part of wholehearted living. I’ve been lucky throughout my life in that I’ve enjoyed or loved most of my jobs and work – with the possible exception of my first job – washing up dishes in a hotel! But that was, as they say “character building”.
We make sense of our world through the experiences, beliefs, values and ideas we have and we are all unique. No one life is the same as any other. That means there is no Universal definition of a purposeful, meaningful life or work because that means something different to each one of us.
We get to define, create and live into what meaningful is for us. I also believe that “work” isn’t necessarily just about our jobs or what we’re paid for. It’s also about what makes our heart sing and when we do it we feel in flow and time passes almost unnoticed.
Two people could do the same job but because those people are unique and see the world differently, how they do what they do and the impact they have can be different to different people.
I have come to believe that
- the way I do what I do has value and meaning
- how I do what I do is unique to me
- how I show up is uniquely me
- all of that combined will be very impactful, inspiring and resonant for some people and not a good fit for others
This has been a hard lesson for me to learn on many levels. It’s been especially hard for me to accept I am me and not everyone will like my approach or style and that’s OK, doesn’t make me a bad person nor less worthy that someone else. It just means I should focus on being the best version of me, unconditionally and those people who resonate with “all of me” will find me. I’ve now seen that happen enough to truly believe it.
The adventure of letting go of self doubt and “supposed to” is an ongoing one but I’m going further down that road day by day.
Brene Brown describes the idea of meaningful work in ways I’d not thought of. It’s about cultivating our unique gifts and talents and sharing those with the World. When we don’t do this by, for example, wasting time on things we don’t like or are not good at because it’s in our “job description”, wasting time trying to get better at things we just don’t have a knack for and, not fully utilising what we are great at, we feel disconnected, empty, unfulfilled, disappointed and frustrated. She describes using our “God given talents” as an avenue we can take to find a spiritual connection – a search for meaning and purpose beyond ourselves.
The gremlins of self doubt and supposed to can undermine who we are, what we do and keep us from embracing and sharing our unique gifts and talents.
One of my self doubt gremlins is around a gift of mine. I’ve been told I have a gift for asking powerful, thought provoking, probing and often challenging questions that really make people think or enable them to see something they hadn’t seen before. I often do this intuitively I think but until recently I’d not really seen it as a gift or talent.
“So what do you do?”
“I ask people questions” – Really!!
The supposed to gremlin is playing a big part in my life at the moment and its all around “you’re supposed to work, earn money, pay the bills, pay off your mortgage, be sensible and when you’ve got “enough” money then you can go off doing what you want.” And yet…
I’m being more and more drawn to live a different life where meaningful work would be less about a job and more about living a life that gives me joy, has meaning on a daily basis and where I’m being consciously purposeful and doing what makes my heart sing. In doing so, my current thinking is that my meaningful work is to be an example by being and doing what is purposeful and meaningful to me rather than living a “supposed to” life based on what others think or society dictates or expects. Maybe me being an example to and for others simply by being me and living my life, could help others do the same?
I’ve had conversations recently with people about taking courageous decisions to let go of or transition out of work that has past its sell by date or has never fulfilled them and take a bold step to be and do more of what makes their heart sing. The conversation alone lights people up and it’s the gremlins of self doubt, what if and supposed to that limit their thinking and or action.
I want to embrace what Brene calls the slash effect. Rather than being defined by a singular role, skill or job e.g. stay at home mum, lawyer, artist or bricklayer, the slash effect allow multiple characterisations of a person according to how they live their life. So I’m a daughter, sister, friend, I’m also a facilitator, consultant and coach and I’m also a walker, skier and blogger and I’m also an aspiring lover, life partner, adventurer, backpacker and “vanlifer”
Some of these may not be “work” in the traditional sense but I for one, as an aspiring adventurer, am ready for the non traditional.
The world of work is evolving and I sense a shift, ideologically if not yet in reality, in that more and more people are prepared to choose meaningful work over a job and “alternative lifestyles” over the house and mortgage approach and I believe we should encourage that evolution. Yes, money is a necessity in our society: I still need money to pay for my coffee and cake;) and we need it to live, but isn’t living a happy life more important?
Why can’t we have it all? Be happy, earn a sufficient income, do meaningful work with purpose and all on our own terms?
Your Invitation to Play
- What are your God given gifts and talents?
- Are you using them daily in creating meaningful work with purpose?
- Are you fully embracing your talents in ways that bring you joy and positively impact the lives of others?
- Where might self doubt be limiting you?
- What “supposed to” gremlins are pesky nuisances for you?
- What one gift could you own even more today?
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go dot it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman
The next guidepost in our Wholehearted Living Challenge will be Number 10, Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”