At the end of the month I'm resigning from my job, ending my time in Corporate America, and setting forth into a new life chapter; a chapter sure to be filled with uncertainty, challenge and risk, but also, just maybe, the incredible feeling of wholeness one only feels from following their heart. It's a feeling that, from my current state -- a place of tapped out passion, compromised integrity, and incompleteness -- I am having trouble fathoming.
It has not been easy deciding to leave. Heck, as I write this, I'm feeling tempted to delete everything, and send a note to my boss saying "I've had a change of heart, please let me stay". Like any job, there were major ups and downs, victories and losses, great times and difficult times, but for the most part, I was content while working for my company. I've worked there for nearly five years -- plenty of time to get into a rhythm and feel the comfort of normalcy only routine can bring. Breaking from the safety, security, and stability has not been a simple decision... But yet, in the moments where I'm relaxed, optimistic, and have space to dream about what could be -- my moments of mental clarity -- I believe it to be the right one. My job is not in sync with who I want to become.
I am writing about this because I wanted to share a potentially perspective shifting way to look at your occupation. It's a juxtaposition a mentor shared with me about a year ago, and I've been reflecting on it ever since. With the completion of this article, I'll wrap up my period of reflection and head off in a new direction; a direction that has been calling to me for some time, but up until now, I've been too fearful to embark upon. It's my hope that if you choose to ponder it, too, you'll do so mindfully: listening to your own intuition and not necessarily mirroring mine. We all view the world through a different pair of glasses.
It can be summed up nicely in three words:
Vocation vs. Vacation
Do you work because it is your vocation? Or do you work so you can go on vacation?
For me, I realized my entire working life could be classified into the latter category. Of course this is a major simplification, but I had basically divided my time into long periods of making money so I could do things like go on vacation, and then inevitably was left with short bursts of spending my money while on vacation. For awhile, the vacation highs seemed to be enough to counterbalance the occupational woes, but eventually I came to understand my personal balance equation was out of whack. The swinging ups and downs were fundamentally changing who I was as a human: I was chasing after happiness instead of making the decisions that would lead to a lifetime of joy.
Following the advice of my mentor, I then thought about what it would be like to go to work because it was my vocation. I wondered what would it be like to wake up every day and feel a strong feeling of suitability for my occupation? How would it change the way I experienced the world if instead of seeing work as a necessity to justify and pay for play, I instead - for whatever reason: divine or otherwise - felt like I had a calling to a particular profession? And what if by answering the call, I was not burdened by any work at all, but rather, was gifted with self-actualization and fulfillment?