A year ago, I would’ve been the least qualified person to write an article about loving a career and finding spiritual fulfillment in it. I was on my way out of graduate school, wondering where the hell I’d be working eight months later, hoping that degree is what I wanted from life, and praying it couldn’t be any worse than my first career. Well, kiddos: one thing led to another, and as of today, I’m sittin’ happy as a peach for my five-month work anniversary. Believe it or not, every single day I feel I am fulfilling my spiritual purpose.
But let’s not confuse “spiritually fulfilling career” with “spiritual career.” I’m not working (or at least getting paid) in a career in spirituality; rather, I work at a university with students who are doing amazing work–work that fills my soul with joy, excitement, and purpose. Many people feel this way, from therapists to teachers to athletic trainers, and it really doesn’t matter to what degree their career involves explicit spirituality. What matters is that it a) represents high correlation with values, b) gives them energy, and c) adds value to their life without consuming their life.
In a wonderful book called Leadership & Spirit, author Russ Moxley outlines the difference between spirited and “dispirited” careers. Lookey here and see which resonates more:
|Use all four energies (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) at work||Use physical and mental energy only|
|Work is a vocation||Work is a job|
|Sense of connectedness to others; community or family used as a metaphor||Sense of separation and disconnectedness; more competition than cooperation and community|
|Congruence between personal and organizational mission and values; work has meaning and purpose||Lack of congruence between personal and organizational mission and values; lack of meaning and purpose|
|Energized, animated workers||Workers drained of energy|
|Workers involved in the activity of leadership||Leadership exercised in a top-down way|
Here are some notable excerpts from his commentary:
“We constrain the spirit if our workaholism is a true addiction. Too often, we use work to structure time because of our fear of emptiness and loneliness. Work is not a source of meaning, but a way of covering up the hard reality that our lives are void of purpose.”
“We constrain the spirit if we become so goal-oriented that cannot enjoy the experience of doing (as opposed to the exhilaration of ‘having done’), if the destination is more important than the journey.”
“We constrain the spirit if we don’t act congruently, if our internal truth doesn’t match our external behavior. We constrain spirit through our compulsions and through trying too hard to maintain too much control.”
“We constrain spirit if we only live in the external world, the world known through our five senses, the world of data and facts, the world of cash flows and bottom lines, the world in which we use mental and physical energy but not much else.”
Your soul doesn’t want to feel tired, sweet pea. I ain’t tryna tell you to quit your job, but I am telling you that you are fighting your soul if you are trying to keep shoving that square peg into the round hole. I want to lovingly remind you that it may never fit, you deserve more, and your intuition is spot on when you feel like you should be doing something else. Older generations love to talk shit about how millennials change their jobs a million times–so why not do it then? They also love to chastise us for our unending need for meaning and purpose. I agree that we do demand meaning and purpose–and happen to live that about us. Work does not have to be bad.
For me, it took four years, two careers, five cities, and a whole lotta student loans to get here, but there’s no denying: I’m not tired anymore. If this is your sign that you aren’t fulfilling your potential, then consider it signed, sealed, and delivered~~*