Will Work To Feed Dogs
The following is a guest post from McDowell Graham.
Are you fortunate enough to pursue life-work that you love and that fills you with a sense of purpose?
Does your life-work enable you to do the things that you enjoy doing so much that you lose track of time?
Do your present circumstances – financially, emotionally, physically – allow you to pursue work that is in your best and highest interest?
Is your work so fulfilling and exciting that you’d even consider doing it for free?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, the rest of us hate, loathe, despise, and abominate you.
This Post May Not Be For You
Well not really, but you get the message and you may leave now as this post is probably not for you.
For most of us, our present circumstances do not allow us to “throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in [our] sails.” (Thank you, Mark Twain.)
In fact, it’s all we can do to hug the shore and steer the course we are currently on until the storm passes, and we can get our bearings once more.
Which is not to say that we can’t find meaningful or fulfilling life-work. We simply need to redefine what “meaningful” means for us.
Popular belief (aka Oprah Winfrey) would have us believe that we are failures if we are not living the life of our dreams, not working in jobs that we are completely and absolutely passionate about, that meet all of our heart’s desires, and are entirely in our best and highest interest.
Certainly, this is nice work if you can get it, you know what it is, and you are in a position to go after it.
However, I assure you that, contrary to popular belief (and Oprah), you are not a failure if you don’t love what you’re doing for a living.
Your life-work can be meaningful if it allows you to meet what is most important to you.
For example, here’s my own list of my most important needs and wants, which I’ve distilled down to four pretty basic things:
- I need to keep a roof over my head. (I’d never survive being homeless. I don’t even like camping, which, to me, means just three things: wet, cold, and dirty.)
- I need to put food on the table. (Of course, it would help if I liked to cook but there are always ways to get around that.)
- I need to keep clothes on my back. (No explanation – or selfie – needed here.)
- Because I’ve chosen to have pets in my life, I want to give them the best possible life.
Will Work to Feed Dogs
So, for me, my life-work motto is simple: “Will Work to Feed Dogs.”
Anne Lamott said, “If you care deeply about something – if, for instance, you are conservative in the great sense of the word, if you are someone who is trying to conserve the landscape and the natural world – then this belief will keep you going as you struggle to get your work done.”
From 2002 to 2012, I shared my life with the four-legged love of my life, a Czechoslovakian Shepherd named Kona. He meant everything to me, and I wanted to give him the best of everything!
However, almost from the day of his birth, Kona had health challenges, all of which were serious but treatable – and when I say “treatable,” I mean, extremely expensive to treat. In the first 18 months of his life alone, his vet bills cost over $10,000.
Now, during those 10 years, I was very fortunate to have a job that paid me enough to cover all of my needs plus all of Kona’s vet bills.
But for many of those years, I was pretty unhappy at work; some days, just going to work was a major chore.
And yet, I chose to continue working at this job for one reason only: to give Kona the best possible care that I could afford, which made it easier – notice that I said easier, not easy – to show up and do the work.
Given my circumstances at the time, staying at that job was in my best and highest interest.
Putting Meaning In Your Life
Michael R. Smith said, “Whatever you choose, do it out of love.” Taking care of Kona was a true labor of love for me. For 10 years, it gave my life meaning. And for 10 years, it was enough.
As long as you know that what you are working towards meets a need or want, this can be enough for you, too.
As long as you have to work in order to have what you need or want your life to include, you’ll be happier – or at least more willing to show up and do the work – if the work you do aligns with your core values and your present circumstances, enables you to meet a need or a want, or addresses what is most important to you.
And how do you go about figuring out what that is?
Glad you asked – because I just happen to have the perfect lucky seven step plan to identifying the life-work that is in your best and highest interest right now:
- Identify what you need and want your life to include.
If you take the time to discover your needs and wants, and then figure out how to meet them, your life-work tends to work much better.
- Identify your achievements – the things you’ve done in your life both personally and professionally that you are most proud of.
Past achievements often indicate talents, abilities, and potential.
- Identify your Authentic Self – your values, passions, interests, natural abilities, favorite skills.
Identifying your Authentic Self enables you to make appropriate life-work decisions and choices so that you don’t compromise on what is truly important.
- Identify which of your needs, your wants, and the characteristics of your Authentic Self are most important to you.
A sense of purpose is essential to success and effectiveness. Those without a clear idea of what they are doing and why they are doing it will not have the foundation to keep going in the face of change or challenge.
- Describe what you believe are the circumstances of your current life – physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually – that you want or need to take into account when making decisions about your life-work.
No matter how you feel about your present circumstances, your ability to be aware of your situation nonjudgmentally is a vital first step in aligning your present circumstances with life-work that is in your best and highest interest now.
- Decide how to align your present circumstances with the life-work that meets your needs, wants, and what is most important to you.
When you talk about what you want, why you want it, and what you’re willing to do or even try to do, you free yourself to consider alternatives. Ideas that might not have occurred to you in the past now might occur.
- Create an Action Plan for getting you from where you are now to where you want to be.
Creating an Action Plan will help you develop momentum that will keep you moving forward towards whatever you decide is in your best and highest interest.
Regardless of what kind of job you are doing now or what you may do in the future, regardless of whether you’ve found your purpose in life or whether you’re still looking for it, it will be much easier to show up and do the work when you know that your needs, your wants, and what is most important to you is being addressed.
Feeling that what you’re doing has meaning for you can make a huge difference in your life. And only you can decide what that “meaning” is. Only you can define the life-work that is in your best and highest interest – RIGHT NOW.
McDowell Graham is an author, motivational speaker (at least her dogs think so) and intuitive consultant. She writes, blogs, coaches, and teaches workshops aimed at helping people transform their limiting thoughts into limitless possibilities so they can move from where they are to where they want to be.
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/mcdowellgraham
Photo: Courtesy of Jackson Brownson