How to find work we love – a curious journey of embracing our joy
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play” said a famous French writer a 100 years ago.
Yet, we find ourselves today in a society where many of us have resigned ourselves to the idea that work is something we take holiday from – that if it doesn’t feel like hard work, it simply isn’t work. Many of us try to convince our heads of what our hearts know is a lie, and stay in jobs that drain us of our energy, even though we live in a time with more freedom to choose, than ever before.
Life is fairly short and what we do – or don’t do – with our time here matters.
We now know that one of the top regrets of people on their deathbeds is that they didn’t allow themselves to be happier. That happiness is an active choice about how to approach life, rather than something we find if we look hard enough, is something many of us don’t come to realise until it’s too late. We give our power away and make decisions for work and life based on what we believe society, our families, peers or community think is the right thing to do, or simply based on some abstract idea of “it’s just what you do”, often believing that this will be the key to our happiness.
Yet, we can end up using booze, antidepressants, food or other numbing activities to take the edge off the feeling of dread associated with going to work. Living for the weekend and suffering from Sunday night blues is not an uncommon life experience.
It needn’t be this way.
The starting point for finding work we love is precisely with the notion that we create our own happiness and that we are open to the possibility that we could actually wake up on a Monday morning and feel excited about work. It’s understanding that there is a well of potential living inside us, ready to burst out, if only we’d let it.
The most important freedom is to be who you are
The journey of finding work we love is one of becoming real, of choosing a life where we express ourselves fully, without apology.Some describe it as “coming out” as a person, some as an awakening to their destiny. Others yet describe this process as a form of home-coming; of remembering who they are after years of conforming into roles determined by other people or by what they believe they should be – a remembering of what makes them feel alive after years of forgetting who they once were, and things loved left behind.
Finding work you love equals curiosity about what matters to you the most (not others); what you are naturally good at and enjoy (including things people might have told you to forget about); what you know lights you up and what you feel curious about but never explored; how much freedom you want and the environments that you lean towards. It’s also a path of discovery into purpose; how the world is going to be different as a result of your work,
In short – finding work we love is ending our search for happiness and beginning to follow our joy.
What is my joy? someone might ask.
The way to know what our joy is (if we don’t know already) is by engaging in self-reflection and in equal measures trying things out in the real world. For example, we may not know if we both love and “get” classical music, flying helicopters, tending a botanical garden or cleaning windows, or not, if we have never been exposed to those activities. If you feel curious about something or just drawn to it – try it. As with all matters of the heart, you will know when you have found your joy – it’s not dissimilar to falling in love.
The author and cultural thinker, Roman Krznaric, suggests that when there is a perfect balance between meaning, freedom and flow in a job, it’s a sign that have found our joy and subsequently work we love:
Meaning relating both to a sense of purpose and doing things we love that are internally motivated e.g. using our talents, following our passions or making a difference, as opposed to being primarily driven by status or money. Flow – the state of being we are in when we are fully engaged and present in something we completely love and also have a natural aptitude for – commonly known as “ being in the zone”. It’s possible to be in the zone in any activity- from arranging flowers to processing numbers to plastering – it will be different from person to person. And freedom – the amount of freedom that each person needs in order to feel like they have a sense of control over their own life.
It all sounds so easy.
And yes, it can be. But for the vast majority of people (including myself), the path to finding work we love is one of reckoning with all that stuff that has prevented us from following our joy in the past.
Once we are on our way to finding work we love, a whole host of saboteurs – those voices in our heads that tell us that we can’t do such and such a thing, or that we are no good at it, or that we will fail and make a fool out of ourselves,or indeed– what will the others think? et.c. will make themselves known and heard – loud and clearly.
Making authentic and active choices based on what is really important to us is a radical act of defiance, and one which requires radical self-compassion.
In order to move forward, those voices that don’t serve us anymore – the voices that hold us back and want us to keep the status quo – need to be released. One way of doing that is by replacing them with kinder messages to ourselves. Saboteurs can’t survive in a self-compassionate, worthy, deserving environment.
Releasing fear around how people in our lives might react if we choose to walk our own path, and other limiting ideas that hold us back (fear of having no money, being too old, that doing creative stuff is a luxury, that if it’s fun it isn’t work, that we should keep calm & carry on etc) requires courage, patience and persistence and is such an important topic that I will return to it again and again in future posts.
However, key to saying bye to all kinds of negative thought-patterns is to focus regularly on our image (preferably a visual image that we create) of what we desire – because our energy flows in the direction of our attention.
Once we feed our neural pathways with clear images of what we want to manifest in our lives, our brain – or to be precise – The Reticular Activating System in our brain, will naturally start filtering the things in our flow of information that actually serves us in making it a reality. It’s called creative visualisation, and it may feel like magic once it starts working, but it is actually, quite simply, how our perception works.
Shifting our attention to what we want, rather than on what we don’t want, is crucial to finding work we love.
How to find work we love is thus a path we take once we give up our search for happiness, start believing we deserve to live a life full of aliveness, and in the process are ready to leave our conditioned mind behind – once and for all.
Register you interest in the How to find work I love personal development programme