Her story reminded me of many such stories I’ve heard recently about people suppressing their intuition--that nagging feeling that they’re called to do something other than fitting nicely into the current economic structure by holding a J-O-B. For additional persuasive information about this topic, I recommend reading this article: Surprising Science: Medical Proof that Doing Work You Love Could Save Your Life.
And now reason TWO for figuring out what brings out your passion and pursuing it with commitment: your loved ones—especially those you live with. How are your relationships? Are you who you want to be in them?
As an educator in a traditional classroom, I worked ridiculously long hours trying (and never feeling I succeeded) to fulfill my responsibilities to our country’s young minds. I was perpetually trying to make my J-O-B my identity and force my energy to match what I was doing. I spent 7 years in this disharmony, conditioned by our society to believe that I was doing important work. But it never felt right. Oh, I was often told that I was an excellent teacher; families appreciated my commitment to making sure all children felt seen and appreciated for who they were—which, by the way, is not the best approach to get good academic results, and I was constantly beating myself up about this aspect of the classroom. I now realize the public education system is a dated one that does not honor our children and inspire the innovative thinking that we need of our next generation, but I digress with all this…
I retell my story to emphasize the long, stressful hours that I put into this disempowering career. I came home from work nearly every day feeling defeated and consistently exhausted, never spending time nourishing my needs.
And this existence was taking its toll on my relationships. Of course, my sex drive suffered. My partner would have to ask me for affection—even a hug, because it would just not enter my fatigued mind. While I would express my love for him when he reminded me, you can imagine how difficult that was for him. His role became one of providing continuous consolation and encouragement to keep me from falling into complete depression. I didn’t reciprocate this emotional support, and in direct contrast, was often snappy and impatient because I didn’t have anything left to give at the end of the day. I couldn’t have faulted him if he’d decided to give up on me. I’m so grateful that he didn’t!
And my poor children! Even as I was hyper aware that I had no patience left for them at the end of the day, I seemed to have no control over my actions. I always told myself it was temporary and I’d give them the love and support they needed another day. I made it a priority to spend time with them before bed in the evenings (when I was home in time,) but I was never “present” during this time with them. Even at the ages of 6 (my son) and 9 (my daughter), they would call me out on being distant during our conversations. After they told me a story about their day, it would become obvious through my inability to interact about the story that I hadn’t really been listening. It was always heartbreaking when they’d end our conversations with “Never mind.”
Simon Sinek, leadership expert and author of Start with Why and Why Leaders Eat Last , and another proponent of loving your work, claims there’s research out there that says coming home late after long hours of work that is meaningful and honors you has no negative impacts on your children. BUT, if you come home from a long day at a job you dislike, your children are far more likely to become bullies. Bullies! Are they learning this behavior from parents unhappy in their jobs, just trying to do the best they can?!
Can you imagine doing work that energizes you and leaves you overflowing with the joy and clarity needed to parent in a mindful way that is always caring and inspiring?
And who wants to model for their children that this is what the world is all about: your purpose here is to receive an education that prepares you to find your place in an economic structure that is designed to keep you in that place, never learning to explore your own creativity, to develop those aspects of your life that bring you joy, to define your own purpose here and pursue it?
I want my children and my husband to live extraordinary lives that involve work that honors them and fills them with joy. The best way to support this is to live in an extraordinary way myself that models what such a life can be!
My client recovered from her vertigo that day in time to make it to her class. She and I had a great session from which she left with specific, achievable steps to start filling her classes and provide her with income while doing what she’s passionate about. She’s taken action on those steps and can rest assured that she’s moving forward on her path. She’s also modeling for her sons (her biggest cheerleaders) an extraordinary life where a person CAN CHOOSE to do work they love.