By Dan Miller
Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about this concept – the “divine discontent.” It is my belief that authentic vocational success is tied to our spiritual well being – the identification of those inner gifts and talents that need to be used for us to feel fulfilled. Now I don’t want this to be so “spiritual” that we can’t find real application, but work has to provide more than just an income.
I see more and more people who are feeling misplaced, off-track or just the angst of feeling like they are not making a difference. With the desire to do something “noble” or “significant” they are leaving lucrative positions in that search for more meaning and fulfillment. Often they are looking to discard a financially successful professional career path started on years ago. How does a person redirect from a position or profession seen as highly desirable by others?
Emerson said this: “I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of. Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in.”
Frequently I see “advantages” given early in life that misdirect a person and leave him/her with a strong desire to change course in their 40s or 50s. The best medical, dental or law schools cannot provide enough benefit to provide a fulfilling career path if that path is not a match with the unique gifts of the person involved. The process of finding authenticity is a very individualized and internal one.
Expecting the government or corporations to provide fulfilling jobs is to reverse the process of finding one’s “vocation.” A true vocation helps us grow as persons while we meet our own needs and address the needs of those around us. To have someone “give” you a job is likely to short-circuit the process of finding your “calling.” Believe you can structure your work around your goals, meaningful relationships, and your dreams and passions. Look inward to give shape to the work that is fitting for you and the application will appear.
Expect change and workplace volatility to enhance your chances of creating meaningful work. I find that it is often in the midst of change that we find our true direction.
Emerson adds: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”
From the Bible:
“Happy is the man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding, for she is more profitable than silver, and her revenue is more profitable than gold.” Proverbs 3: 13-14 (HCSB)
Direction for Today:
Can you identify an area of “divine discontent” that is prompting you to make some changes? What can you do to act on that today?
About the Author: Dan Miller considers himself a “social entrepreneur.” As such he looks for innovative ways to reshape negative systems. Our concept of “work” is a striking example of a negative system. Our culture allows us to view work as a necessary evil or even a curse from God. Clichés like “Thank God it’s Friday” and our eagerness for retirement convey our distaste for our daily work. In his new book, No More Mondays, Dan shows how work can be a meaningful, fulfilling part of an authentic life.
As host of the 48 Days online radio show, Dan shares his process for developing a focused, balanced and truly successful life. For free articles: www.48Days.com