“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”
― Leo Tolstoy
You might think, if you’ve read a few of my posts, I’m offering career advice.
I wouldn’t know where to start.
Sure, I’m hot on following your call, but how many of us would even know where to start in bottoming out what speaks loudest to our heart?
Perhaps the whole career thing is dead. There are none; there’s work, and more work, but nothing that’s ever likely to tap our full potential.
Think back to your earliest memory, when the work vista came into view. What was the question writ large?
“What do you want to do?”
Where did you go with that question?
If you’re like the young people I’ve spoken to they answer:
“I’ve no idea.”
Why should they? In any event, if they look at the adults around them, would anyone in their right mind do what they do?
You don’t need to answer that.
Instead, perhaps we ought to consider this question:
“If money was no object, what would you do [with the rest of your life]?” — Alan Watts
What would you do?
Continue to follow the crowd or consider what really floats your boat?
I was thinking about my own experience. I left school in 1983. The economy was patchy. Unemployment was between 8-10% and all that was on offer was a Youth Training Scheme which I equated to slave labour — I was only 15! In the end, I stayed on at College and after a few twists and many tiring turns, I ended up going to University, aged 25, to study law.
And yet, even now, with a few more scars and a little more wisdom, I can see that I never questioned my choice of degree let alone what I’d do thereafter.
If I were to bottom it out, the genesis was a conversation I had with the Human Resources Director of Foxes Biscuits — they were a client of mine; she made it clear that if I wanted to recruit at the highest level, no one would ever take me seriously absent a degree. When I did eventually decide on law, I did so because my best friend, Mark, called me, told me that he was off to University to study law and asked me if I was interested in starting with him. Without any thought or consideration on what I was embarking on, I said yes, and the rest is history.
But what if I had asked Alan Watts’s question?
I’d have answered:
“I love sport, writing, art and nature.”
How, of course, you’d turn that medley into a job let alone a business is something I’ve been wrestling with since I jumped ship from private practice in August 2010. I know there’s something there, where I can come alive all body, mind and soul, but for now, I’m making do with an in-house legal job, writing my long-overdue memoir and investing as much energy as possible in blogging.
But it doesn’t answer the question, truthfully.
If money were no object, I’d write. Nothing else.
Sadly, to date, I’ve not made any money from my art, and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Could that change?
I suppose the point I’m trying to make is just because we’re not doing the one thing we’re called to do doesn’t mean we should give up. If anything, we need to play it smart with our energy, time and motivation and not let a multiplicity of excuses get in the way of doing something, anything, to crack the “…what would I do with my life” code.
Of course, you might be very happy doing what your doing — and that’s great — but if there’s this nagging doubt that you’re not a label lest still that you shouldn’t be toiling away in a company that doesn’t value you, perhaps it’s high time you stopped thinking about you’d like to do and actually do something. It may sound hackneyed, but procrastination can easily become a soul-sucking habit and one that’s incredibly hard to break. If you need any help, I strongly suggest you read the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. To this day, it still remains my go-to book in times of crises — career or otherwise.
Blessings and much love,
If you’d like to know more about my work and how I can help, please feel free to check out the archive and my services page. At the moment, I’m able to take on a few more coaching clients, and if you’re interested all you need do is email me or telephone using the details on my contact page.