Life Lessons from Your Work

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In today’s world most of us engage not just one job throughout our adult lives but several, from early jobs as a youth gaining some experience or training to later career work that might be better attuned to our interests and sense of purpose.

As a self-discovery exploration I invite you to make a list of your workaday jobs.  Note your age when you started and (if) finished each job, and write a brief job description. Then consider for each job:

What LIFE LESSON(s) did I take away from this activity?

To pilot this Tool, allow me to briefly engage with this myself to see where it may lead:

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  • Horse drawings (around 6-7 YO): I loved to draw horses (always wanted my own horse and never had one, though I did get to help with horses at local stables in Pennsylvania with my sisters and friends). After feeling I had mastered a basic horse drawing design, one day I went around the neighborhood door-to-door, offering my artwork for a dime per drawing. Neighbors were supportive and I felt a sense of accomplishment. LIFE LESSON:  It is okay to share with others your creative products.
  • Ice picking at the community Peach Festival in Lewiston, NY (15 YO): First paid job, and I didn’t stay with it long enough to be paid.  Terrible work without any safety gear. I still have scars on my hands from inexpertly hacking away at a block of ice for some stall owner who did not care.  LIFE LESSON: Use proper discrimination before accepting a responsibility; be sure you will be capable and safe.talkeetna-1624101__480
  • Crab and salmon cannery, Yakutat Alaska (19 YO summer) LIFE LESSON: Life is a Great Adventure!fruit-3215625__480
  • Grape vineyard and peach orchard, solo farm hand (20 and 21 YO, summer work to help pay for college spending): This was my first real job, a job of choice. I knew I needed to work but did not want a “normal” job such as waitressing or secretarial labor. This was outdoors and I worked mainly alone in the fields or driving a tractor. The farmer gave me many responsibilities, which I loved! (…Until the day he became inappropriate with me; I left shortly after that, not to return.) LIFE LESSON: Follow the beat of your own Heart; Enjoy responsibility and work hard to excel.   I learned how I dearly love to work hard and produce positive results.
  • Ushering and parking booth attendant at a new performing arts center (22 – 24 YO) : I enjoyed every aspect of this and was promoted to Head Usher. LIFE LESSON: Exciting opportunities abound (I almost accepted a job in NYC becoming a nanny for a world class symphony conductor’s family; loved the variety of shows and the elan of performance.)architecture-3111558__480
  • Tutoring English at my undergraduate college (21-22 YO): Fell in love with teaching. LIFE LESSON: I can be of positive service through sharing knowledge by helping facilitate learning in others.
  • Research Associate and Teaching Assistant, and Faculty adjunct at community colleges, while in  graduate school (14 yrs in grad school). LIFE LESSONS: Many. professor-1993129__480
  • University teaching (pre-tenured and then tenured faculty, and Chair two terms), 25 years. LIFE LESSONS: The importance of following my own inner guidance and developing detachment from academic politics or personality clashes; enjoyment of working with wonderful students; also the value of maintaining my spiritual focus and creative activities separately from the academic setting.fantasy-3313964__480images are from pixabay.com
  • Spiritual services roles (44 yrs, many different roles and opportunities). LIFE LESSONS: How to be a spiritual co-worker with others in voluntary roles; and how to stand back to help facilitate spiritual seeking and growth in others.
  • Writing for publication (many years): LIFE LESSONS: Persistence, commitment, dedication, willingness to work and rework; editing; then eventually morphing the project to team-based efforts and ultimately being able to release and share the work with as broad a readership as the book may reach. (Joy and the desire to produce more in service to Life!)

So, what might your history of Life Lessons from Working reveal? I see in mine a widening arc of responsibilities and a growing love of creative expression and Service. I love the feeling of independence that comes with varying responsibilities along with the expansion of knowledge and the capacity to grow from working with others as well as alone. I can hardly separate work from life as a whole, as the lessons have abounded holistically.

As I now prepare for a fast approaching retirement from my main academic position, this exercise has helped me to understand that this process will never dissipate but will only continue to expand!

So, what is YOUR story? I invite you to engage your own reflections about your Life Lessons from Work!

Follow Your Bliss!

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“I can’t believe they actually pay me to do what I love!”

Does the above line characterize what YOU do for “a living”? If so then you are fortunate to have merged your vocational aspirations (your calling) with your work or career.  Joseph Campbell might say you are “following your bliss.”

If, rather, your Life Theme of WORK or CAREER is separate from what you feel as your true calling or as yet unrealized potential, What Then? (click to read a W.B. Yeats poem with that title). It may simply mean that your work satisfies your financial needs, allowing you to fulfill your responsibilities, while you pursue your ‘bliss” instead through vocational activities such as artistic ‘hobbies’, spiritual practices, sports, or other activities that bring you a sense of balance in your life. Of course, this is fine and a good way to satisfy the needs and interests of your various unconscious or submerged archetypal ‘parts of Self.’

Still: Are there ways that you might forge a closer integration of your Work or Career  with your vocational callings?  Doing so could create a deeper synergy that allows you to produce dynamic works more highly attuned to your most authentic Self, even in the workplace.

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Above images are from pixabay.com

What is ONE THING you might integrate into your work life or into your role in your career that could fuse an element of your deepest, unique nature to reinvent yourself in the context of your ‘job’? Or, should you be seeking a different line of work? Maybe an online course or degree could help you move in a new direction.

Using myself as an example, when I felt I was moving in a direction at work, in attaining tenure as a professor, that would  satisfy my practical goals but not my Life Dream of writing for the public rather than serving in my academic role alone, I was shown a way to integrate my creativity and spirituality into my work. That is how I began studying and then eventually practicing and writing about Life Paths. I describe this process in  Chapter 1 of Your Life Path (click or see right panel for ordering information, now available through all major book distributors. (BTW, A heartfelt Thank You to new followers of this blog who have found this site from reading Your Life Path. Please feel free to download for free the Life Path Maps Portfolio Toolkit! – see right panel.)

Your Life Path

So, what about YOU?  Are you fully expressing the life of your dreams at work? How might you ‘tweak’ your work life to more holistically Live Your Bliss? I invite you to contemplate and journal about this question.

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(pixabay.com)

I welcome your Comments and Story!