“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Excerpt from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
We are always at choice, including the decision we make about earning an income for ourselves and those who depend on us. When making a choice about how to create your livelihood, I encourage you to ask yourself:
What are the possibilities for my one life given that there aren’t any “do overs”?
Do I want to do work that will leave me feeling satisfied and fulfilled?
Since I am always at choice, what do I want to create for my life beyond simply the means to live?
Four things to consider when creating a livelihood that will serve all aspects of your life:
1. For the sake of what are you here? Why do you exist?
These questions are as old as Plato and Aristotle. There are many writings, teachings, and theories centered on the age-old question “What is the meaning of life?” At one time, I was trapped in the idea that the meaning of life had to be something divine or overwhelmingly big and significant. After years of reflection I have come to believe that the meaning of life is up to the individual. That’s right, the meaning of your life is your choice. It’s not something imposed on you and it doesn’t have to be shrouded in mystery. The answer isn’t in someplace or somebody else, the answer is within you. And it’s your choice.
I found it very freeing to realize that I was at choice about the meaning of my life. Creating one’s own life meaning is empowering and naturally leads to a greater sense of accountability and responsibility for the direction one’s life takes. You place yourself firmly in the driver’s seat of your life, and join the millions of other successful people who have created their income centered on their own sense of purpose, natural gifts and talents, and chosen values.
2. How will you create a sustaining and balanced life?
The life planning tools and processes I use with coaching clients offer 7 categories to consider:
1) Wholistic health – we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others
2) Relationship – continued fostering of deep connections
3) Children – making room for important family bonds
4) Friendships – to enjoy now and call on in times of need
5) Income – creatively capitalizing on your natural gifts and talents
6) Financial – how much money you want to create and for what purpose
7) Community – how you wish to give back
A thoughtfully chosen livelihood will enable you to satisfy all seven categories for a lifetime, not simply provide an income today. This multidimensional approach to choosing a livelihood will help you get on the path to a sustaining and balanced life.
3. Have you clearly identified your gifts and talents?
In two previous blog posts, I elaborated on the high success rate and happiness of people working in their naturally talented and gifted areas. Each one of us has our own gifts. Our job is to discover what our gifts are, be creative in our talented area, and implement our creations. Skill sets are terrific, but if you want a real shot at working for more than just a paycheck, focus on leveraging your gifts and talents instead of just doing what you have learned as a skill.
4. Are you choosing a livelihood that lines up with your values?
Evidence supports the fact that people are more fulfilled working in an environment that meshes with their personal values, even if it means earning less money.So what happens if there’s a change in values at work through circumstances beyond your control, such as through a merger, acquisition, change in leadership or location? Continuing to create a fulfilling livelihood in this case requires you to ACT in one of three ways:
1) Accept – Truly accept what is and surrender freely
2) Confront – Face the situation head on, then try to change it or change yourself
3) Travel – Leave and find another place where your values line up
Now it’s your turn.
Are you ready to work for more than just a paycheck?
What will you choose as the purpose of your existence?
What are the possibilities for creating and sustaining a balanced life for yourself?
What action will you take to identify your own natural gifts and talents? Once identified, how will you apply them?