I think one of the most rewarding things I probably do is working with people to clarify just what it is they want to be doing in life and in which direction to be going in in order that they have a sense of engaging in purposeful activity and indeed meaningful work. I think this is particularly on my mind at the moment because in the last two weeks I have been focusing on this area with different people of wildly different ages and yet the same kind of questions arise. So, talking with a number of people who are in their very early twenties who really have been grappling with ‘what is my career path?’, ‘where am I heading’ and ‘what should I be doing?’. The kind of schools career approach didn’t seem to be really very helpful for them apparently and so I tend to go a different route which is to actually fall back on a number of ways of asking questions that take us to the heart of the matter.
To give you an example, many many moons ago, Alan Watts had an interesting question that he would ask in a variety of different ways but essentially it would all boil down to saying that if money was no object what would you like to be doing? However you choose to come at that you’re really of course saying let’s separate money and remuneration from the activity and let’s be clear about what would be the optimal activities as far as you’re concerned and what would you want to be doing?
This immediately takes us into questions about what is satisfying to you, what is meaningful to you, what is energising for you and what allows you to feel that what you’re doing is worth continuing to do and could be the basis of a fulfilling life. Now obviously there are very good reasons for wanting to get clear about this, not least if you spend about a third of your life working it might be a smart idea to be doing something that is rewarding. But of course people often think that rewarding must mean financially and yes, you need to be able to eat, you need to be able to pay the mortgage or whatever it may be but I think very often people jump straight to economic necessities they perceive rather than getting clear about what I would really get turned on by doing is this. Now, how could I do this and derive some kind of worthwhile income from doing it. At the start of a professional life it is an important question but you know it is just as important down the road, thirties, forties and fifties.
I have worked with people who have been in the bizarre position of spending years doing something they really did not enjoy because they felt that they were restrained and they had to because it was the only way they knew how to bring home the bacon. That doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me just because you end up then living your life doing something you don’t like in order that you can do more of it tomorrow again. What? So really whatever one’s age these I think these questions get to be really important.
And myself I know that, many moons ago, I became very clear that the most rewarding things for me were being able to engage with people so that they could create the kind of life that was meaningful to them. I just found it incredibly rewarding, basically to be assisting people to become really more of who they could be. I also found it very motivating , it got me up in the morning and made me create a variety of businesses that are based on that fundamental premise that it is possible to find what is meaningful to you, it’s possible to move in that direction and you don’t have to give up the day job necessarily but you gradually edge in the direction that makes sense to you. For me that has been unbelievable satisfying, fulfilling, and frankly, intensely moving so that I end up having people coming back. A couple of weeks ago I had someone who said they would like to give me their book, and that without me it would not have been written. There was also a little dedication inside which was lovely.
So, I guess it doesn’t matter what age we are, the question is if you separate the money from what you love to do, what would you love to be doing and how might you begin to move in the direction of doing more of that?
Creating your own legacy happens on a daily basis by having the intention to move in the direction that is right for you.
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