Two weeks ago my mother's best friend's husband unexpectedly died of a massive heart attack. This woman was like a sister to her, and I know her as an aunt...their kids are like cousins. My "uncle" was just a few months short of retirement from an esteemed career at Chevron and as expected, it's been a hard reality for the family to face.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about how close he was to retirement which in turn, has made me think a lot about work. About the purpose of it and, of course, what we're really doing with the finite, unknown about of time we have on this earth. Thank God he was happy with his.
I've shared this before, but I actually think a lot about death because for me it's a reminder that I don't have the luxury to bet against time that has not been guaranteed to me. I use that as a way to stay motivated, ESPECIALLY as it pertains to all of the work I still want to produce. There is SO much I want to do, and I'm constantly reminding myself:
You're not gonna be here forever, Dayka--do it now. Here's the thing: how you think about what "work" means--and more specifically, the value of YOUR work in the world--is one of the single most important factors to influence how you'll spend the majority of your days.
We get so caught up with using work as a way to meet our goals, instead of embracing the idea that meaningful work actually IS the goal, that we miss some of the most important questions:
How are you making a contribution to the world with your work? What are you allowing to come through you?
If your work is just a way for you to buy nice things & pay for vacations, then you stay in a perpetual cycle of working to reach the next milestone. And it's never enough, because as soon as you grab the carrot that's right in front of you, you jump right back on the hamster wheel hungry for the next milestone.
So you're basically working to get your next "fix".Just like a drug addict.
No thought is actually given to the work itself, it's just "I need to make $X/month so I can go buy xxx." And your life ends up being subdivided by shit you probably won't remember when you're staring down your last days.
And here's the thing: if this is what you really want--what you're INTENTIONALLY choosing for yourself--then there's nothing wrong with this path. Work your job, buy your stuff, and rinse & repeat as much as possible until your body just can't do it anymore. If that truly makes you happy, then do you, boo.
But if it doesn't, then it's time to do something different.
The only thing about this journey to purposeful work is, there's no one right answer for everybody. What works for me might not work for you. The places I've found success could potentially be failures for you (and vice versa!). But when you recognize that the value is in the journey and not just in the destination, concepts like "failure" and "success" take on a completely different meaning.
They don't really mean anything, actually.
If you see work as integral to your soul's growth, then the journey of creating a life becomes focused on the process of work itself--of working to uncover your path, acknowledging the dead ends & embracing the forks in the road, the fuck-ups AS WELL AS the achievements. If you see it as your obligation to the world--for occupying space on this planet--then you get that you have to continuously bring everything you are to your work. And that at its highest,
Your work is supposed to be a reflection of who you are.
This doesn't mean that you're always going to LIKE what you're doing at every step along the way, but it does mean that your essential quest is about much more than just "making money".
Going to Disneyworld. Buying new countertops.The latest 70" flat screen tv.Or a new Tesla. Buying stuff.
These things may add value to your life, but they should never be the source of the value.
Being mindful about what you put into the world isn't just about watching the words that come out of your mouth--it's also about what you're intentionally creating for the world in a way that only you can do. It's about beign open to the fact that what you THINK you're here to do may not in fact be what you end up doing..and instead fighting against that change, you allow yourself to embrace it. It's about getting really comfortable with the unknown.
The naked-in-bed kinda comfortable.
Because when you commit to growing your soul, there are no guarantees on this path(and there are no guarantees on ANY path, btw). You'll meet a lot of unknowns & seemingly scary places....places where there's not always a quick fix for what's ailing you.But if you're one of the people who can lay their heads down at night believing that what you do matters,
Then you've got something special. Something worth holding onto. Something worth fighting for.
Your beliefs about how you live & move in this world matter, and if you don't know exactly what you believe....this is where you must start. This is your work.
What you do in this world matters.Don't ever believe that it doesn't.
**also, yesterday I released a very cool Black Book of Solo Travel for the woman who wants to know how to safely travel the world like the badass she is. And it's only $10. Click the link to head to my shop to check it out.**