This post is in response to two different prompts from Kat. Yesterday was my first day back at work, at CSU, in my new office. I was gone all day and by the time I got home, I was just too tired to do anything else. And yet, like the last time I skipped a day, the two prompts fit so nicely together, I could answer them in a single post.
The first prompt asks, “What about your multiple selves?” Kat says, “Today I invite you to spell out the range of things you are and would like to be,” and asks, “How could you cultivate a life that reflects all that you truly are?” Kat was focusing specifically on what you do for a living, how you make money.
It’s interesting, because my friend Shellie was just asking me for resources related to discovering a new career, different work. I was telling her how a few years ago, when I realized my work situation wasn’t working, was no longer workable, I took some time to consider what else I might do, research my other options. I took all kinds of career, aptitude, strength, and personality tests and quizzes to get clearer about who I was, to determine my strengths and skills and even my struggles. This is a partial list of those resources:
- Personal Strengths Profile, or DISC Index
- Myers & Briggs Personality Type Test
- The 3 Most Important Questions to Ask Yourself from Mind Valley
- how to figure out your purpose/passion/just what the hell it is you want by Justine Musk
- Does your LIFE have a THEME? (Want to find out?) by Alexandra Franzen
- The Short but Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion on Zen Habits
- Lifestyle Design and Your Ideal World from Chris Guillebeau
- How To Focus On What Truly Matters from Zen Habits
- The Key to Dying Happy on Zen Habits
- The Simple, Ridiculously Useful Guide to Earning a Living from Your Passion on Zen Habits
- How to Identify Your Passion and Create Results From It according to Simon Sinek
- Find Your Passion in Three Steps from Michael Hyatt
- 7 Questions To Finding Your True Passion on I Need Motivation
- Discover Your Passion: Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow on Pick the Brain
- 15 Questions that Reveal Your Ultimate Purpose in Life on Goodlife Zen
- Ira Glass on Storytelling
There were so many others, but these are the ones I can find, remember. What was interesting is that every test I took, everything I read all pointed the same direction, said the same thing.
- In order to feel satisfied, I needed to have meaningful work, to feel like I was helping people, making a difference.
- I wasn’t broken, but rather a highly sensitive introvert, and I would need to honor that if I wanted to be successful and happy, to take extra care when I worked more directly with people, to pay attention to how the environment was impacting me.
- I am happier working alone, with autonomy.
- And yet, I’m also a facilitator, a peacemaker, a caretaker — someone who thrives as part of a community.
- I need a strong sense of the goal, want to understand the plan, be given clear direction.
- I like working with the details, prefer that someone else monitor the “big picture.”
- I don’t like being interrupted or distracted. I prefer to maintain an intense, sustained focus.
- I should work as a writer or teacher, a therapist or artist.
Basically, I discovered that I could stay in the job I already had, with a few necessary tweaks. That as long as I chose to work for someone else, what I was already doing was the best fit. And what I plan to do after that is also right on — teaching yoga, writing, and meditation; writing books; blogging; teaching online classes and leading in person workshops & retreats; facilitating small groups; leading people through personal retreats; being a meditation instructor; and maybe some kind of coaching or therapy.
Today’s prompt from Kat was “How will you make time work for you?” She goes on to ask, “how do you go to work and give as much as is adequate but ensure that you have enough left for you?” It’s funny, because I was just telling someone that to do what I want, I need there to be three of me. The problem is, there’s nothing I’m doing that I’m willing to give up. What suffers is my health. I don’t get enough rest or exercise.
My answer to Kat’s question is how these two prompts fit together for me: Passion. That’s the “how.” Passion, excitement has to be the driving force behind what I do. I was thinking about this as we were watching The Mind of a Chef last night, a show about “what it truly means to cook, think, create and live in the food-obsessed world that is The Mind of A Chef.” The three chefs featured so far are almost mad with passion, excitement, and feeling about food — growing it, harvesting it, cooking it, and eating it.
To do fulltime work AND work towards your dream, if you are like me and they aren’t the same thing, you have to BURN with love for the dream. Also, finding the right fulltime work matters, something that is either so different or so close you can put your heart into that too, are willing to allow it to take time away from your other pursuit.
Kat asked how one might “give as much as is adequate” in your job, but I luckily have been able to do better than that (four years in a row I’ve earned a Superior ranking in my annual evaluation) because my “paid” work, my “day” job is such a good fit, even though it isn’t my dream. What I’m good at is what they need me to do. Everybody’s happy. My work at CSU is a mix of writing and teaching, my days move between connecting with people and being alone (more alone). I can be creative but what’s needed from me is also clear, there are distinct goals. It fits with what I’m good at, what I like.
But let’s be completely honest, if I hadn’t renegotiated my contract to have summers off, I might not still be there, or my annual evaluation ranking might have been exceeds expectations, or even only meets expectations.
I have to make sure I rest enough, but that’s really hard because there’s always something, a next thing that I really, really want to be working on, and if not that, there’s dogs to be walked and laundry. To make it all work, I also need:
- To get up early, by 5 am at least to have time to write, maybe even meditate before walking the dogs or going to yoga, to leave enough time to do all that before I have to be to work
- To go to bed early, so I get enough sleep, which means less going out, especially at night
- To have less of a social life, which means fewer friends, but as a highly sensitive introvert this turns out to suit me
- To have fewer mindless activities, like shopping, drinking, watching TV
- To have a supportive partner, who will cook and clean the bathroom and be okay with taking care of things while I’m gone for days at a time at a retreat or yoga teacher training or just in the other room working on a project
- Strong practice to support quieting of the mind, a way to deal with strong emotions, to cultivate non-judgement, to practice being present and mindful
- Good music
- Inspiring content — video, books, people
- Good food
- Quiet, stillness, contemplation
- Tiny shrines, a reminder that it is sacred work, all of it