Lately I have been thinking much about the unhappiness and fear I see around me with folks I know who fear foreclosure, can't seem to find a job, or are doing jobs that they hate because they are too scared to seek new opportunities in such uncertain times. Jobs - it's the word on everyone's lips. Thank God you have a job, if I could just find a job,I hate my job, but I have to pay the bills etc., etc.
When I started my MBA program they made us read a book called the Power of Purpose by Richard Leider (http://www.amazon.com/Power-Purpose-Creating-Meaning-Your/dp/1576750213). That book changed my life in that it made me really think hard about what I was doing with my life and why.
As a child I had no doubt I was going to save the world and put Mother Theresa to shame. I was certain my purpose was monumental and that clearly I was special, the chosen one. As I got older and aligned myself with causes disenchantment arrived when I saw the innerworkings of politics and nonprofits (see Jo Goes to New York and Gets Worn out to hear that story).
The Power of Purpose helped me reconcile how I could live a purpose filled life while paying off good ol' Sallie Mae (my tormentor). I love to challenge people, inspire them to be better, inspire them to see the beauty in the world, inspire them to live purpose-driven lives. After realizing I wasn't going to singlehandedly wipe out famine in Africa, I realized that my purpose was to infiltrate corporate America and try to make people feel good while cranking the wheel of the corporate grind. So, in the face of absolute chaos in my industry I worked with my team to feel better about themselves to question their priorities and tried each day to help them find purpose in their work.
Somewhere along the way I got lost (as per usual), and I worked way too hard and lost my own purpose. I worked and worked and worked. And then I rewarded myself with vacations, nice dinners, vacations for my family members (I've never been a "things" person). Not too long ago, I noticed on my last vacation and the last nice dinner I had that it was tasteless, unfulfilling. Everything started to taste like cardboard. I had lost my purpose.
Then my sister and I started writing this blog and I could feel purpose again infiltrating me. At the same time while taking a class on Coaching and Developing Others, I read a book about the positivity principle. In that book there was one critical question that kept me up at nights and changed my life. Drumroll please......Think about the one thing that is holding you back (ummmm any of you who read this blog regularly probably know that answer - my education loans) and then imagine that you woke up the next day and that obstacle had disappeared in the middle of the night without you knowing it, how would your life look, what would be different, what different decisions would you make?
Whoa. Try asking yourself that question. The book urges you to start making decisions as if that obstacle wasn't there, to focus on the positive, to set out your goals for yourself and take steps each day to reach them. It was actually unbelievable. I started making different decisions every day so that I could again find purpose. I changed the way I was directing my "disposable" income. I invested in this blog. And I started seeing possibilities where I had only seen closed doors.
So, what does this have to do with you and those out there who are scared of losing their jobs, of losing their homes, losing their things......their way of life. I would urge you to stop being afraid and to ask yourself if the things you think you have to have are the things that are making you happy, and if you would rather live a purpose-driven life where you feel fulfilled instead of afraid.
I feel a change coming for me, and I feel courage (most days) that even in the midst of uncertainty I have to live with purpose and so I will do what it takes while perhaps sacrificing those things I think I deserve for all of my hard work. This country has survived a depression, wars and all sorts of struggles. What would happen if this nation stopped being afraid and started making bold choices, capitalizing on their strengths, their creativity and stopped cowering in fear. A workforce that is engaged and is fulfilled by what they do is a workforce that produces at exponential rates. The Economist article pictured above points out a great irony - although there is a great lack of jobs out there, there is also a shortage of talented, skilled workers. It's as if we stopped challenging ourselves, that we became comfortable with the grind, that we accepted the drudgery and let innovation be beaten out of us.
Is there something you love to do, something you always wanted to do but never had the time, something that you think would give your life purpose? If so, I urge you to set your obstacles aside and give it a try. Who knows what can happen.
You may think I'm a little crazy, but ask yourself that question this week - if the one thing that you felt was holding you back disappeared overnight, what would your life look like. What would you do differently?
If tomorrow you woke up and the boulder wasn't there - What would you do?
Thoughts, comments, please post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freeing Sisyphus (aka Melody)
Putting the shoulder to the boulder and taking small steps each day to achieve freedom from the mundane.