August 22, 2010

Working toward bliss

There was a discussion recently about finding your bliss, how that ties into what you do for a living, and how your obligations may hold you back from your pursuit of bliss. We started with a white board with a vertical line down the center (No bad ideas people!). On one side of the ledger were your talents, gifts, and desires (bliss). On the other side were your obligations - house payments, car payments, food, bills, spouse, children, buying and maintaining all your stuff.

The discussion opened with differentiating your gifts vs talents. You may be good at something (a talent) but it may not bring you fulfillment like making use of your gift. The discussion moved on to the question of how our obligations might hold us back from going after our "perfect job". Some of us would work for less if we could get a job related to our pursuit of bliss. But then we bump up against those obligations. We start looking at the expense side of the ledger, it seems to limit our freedom to make these choices.

There are of course things you can do to make that obligation side of the ledger a little lighter. No you can't get rid of your children and shouldn't get rid of your spouse. But many folks are trying to do with less - spending less on luxuries, keeping their car instead of replacing it every few years, eating in instead of out, and curbing the endless pursuit of stuff. Through necessity or a new focus, many people are ending their habit of piling up debt to increase their pile of stuff. That pile of stuff takes a lot of time, energy and mental space to maintain. Time and energy that should be used in finding and pursuing their bliss.

It was an interesting discussion, and what I came away with was this - So very few of us get paid to follow our bliss (maybe 1%) or even work in its general neighborhood. If you are lucky, you enjoy your job well enough, even if it isn't what you'd call "pursuing your bliss". For the rest of us, our jobs are a means to an end, and we should be pursuing our bliss outside of what we do for a living. And it is possible that you will make unexpected connections and find new pathways in that unblissful job.

Some of us who are unemployed or underemployed are reevaluating what we should be doing with our lives. We (myself included) are thinking "This is my chance to start over. What would be my ideal job, and how can I get it." I don't want to discourage people from this line of thinking, because finding a dream job is a noble pursuit. But I think trying to find your bliss in what you do for a living might be a long shot (especially in this economy), and it limits you unnecessarily. A more realistic option would be to find something that you at least enjoy, that pays the bills, and keep pursuing your bliss wherever you can - inside and outside of work.

More on a related topic tomorrow...

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