By Robert Knight, Coach / 28th June 2016
What would you do if you had so much money that you didn’t have to work?
What’s preventing you from doing that?
These are questions typically asked by coaches to people looking for new career opportunities, but who are not sure what they want to do next. The answers that come up can give significant insight into deeper wants and desires, the fulfillment of which could indeed lead to new and better ways of working and living.
But there are potential dangers lurking behind these questions and their possible answers. While looking for a way past the professional trials and tribulations that might be leading us towards necessary change, it’s easy to get caught up in new illusions about what we want the future to hold. Setting out with the best intentions to create something new in our lives, we often end up disappointed. Aiming for success and happiness in our new ventures, we stumble over the obsticles of day-to-day reality, often later finding ourselves exactly in the same place we started from.
When this happens, I think life is trying to tell us something. It may be asking us to discover and cultivate our deeper motives and purpose in our work and lives. Coming into contact with these can empower us both to be more successful and to gracefully manage the difficulties which will inevitably cross our paths as we move forward.
So with this in mind, imagine if you really didn’t have to work for a living…
Would you truly be happier?
Many people who are frustrated in their careers dream about the life of ease they would enjoy without the shackles of work if they won the lottery. I know I’ve entertained these fantasies in the past. And yet, every time I really think about it, I truly can not imagine my life without work.
Yes, life does indeed consist of much, much more than just our work. But our work forms an important foundation in so many respects. Our professions define our social status to a great extent. Through our work we build long-term relationships with people with whom we otherwise would never have contact in other contexts. The challenges in our work give us opportunities for personal growth which we might otherwise never have. And, work can often be the best place for us to unfold our true talents and abilities and thus make a lasting impact on others and our world.
If we conclude that our work really is something important in our lives, independent of the need for income, how exactly is it serving us? Do I find purpose and meaning in what I do? Does my work make a positive contribution to others around us and our society? Am I able to utilize my deeper talents and abilities in my work and in the workplace? Does my work help me to grow and to become a better person? Do I enjoy my work? Does it create structure in my life and provide me with a sense of belonging? Do I gain respect and recognition? Does my work provide adequate financial rewards?
I firmly believe that we have not only the right, but also the duty to find meaning, fulfillment and satisfaction in our work while being respected and recognized for our contributions and enjoying financial rewards. Unfortunately, very few people are truly happy in their careers in this more encompassing sense.
When the time comes for us to more fully embrace our potential, we will need to consider our deeper desires and goals, to discover our intrinsic talents and abilities and to start living from our true core values. We’ll encounter the fears inside us that prevent us from having the life, doing the things, and being the people we really desire to be. Confronting ourselves and actively changing our mindsets can be challenging. But the reward is more satisfaction, meaning, purpose, fulfillment, success and, ultimately, happiness – not just in our work, but in all areas of our lives.
Those of us who were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths must work for our livelihood. And yet, we have a choice. We can decide what meaning and purpose we find in our work. If I view my work as a necessary evil for paying the bills, then I will experience my work – and myself – in a far different way than if I approach my work as a path towards developing my full human potential.
What meaning and purpose do you find in your work? What other and new perspectives can you discover? What kind of future do you want to create?
It’s your choice. Your future begins now.
© 2016 Robert Knight