Aaron tried out many different careers in his life, from sales to manufacturing to teaching, but he found them unfulfilling. He felt like something must be wrong with him to be in his forties and still not able to find work that he loved doing. Finally, he came to terms with the fact that work was not the main passion in his life. Developing a spiritual life became more central to him, and work became a secondary concern. He became committed to finding a group of people who shared his values and to whom he could relate. He now works as a financial analyst in a small firm with people he truly enjoys. Now, going to work is a source of satisfaction in his life. The people he works with make the difference.
Marcie & Charlie have something in common. They had grown progressively dissatisfied of working in a career that did not fulfill them. They identified an interest they wanted to follow, and then they became motivated to change. Finally, they worked up the courage to take steps to manifest this change in the world.
Marcie worked for a major law firm. She was upwardly mobile, working fifteen hours a day, but she didn’t feel like she was a part of the firm’s soul. She wasn’t even sure it had one. We discussed some more meaningful alternatives. Eventually, she went on to start—and now runs—a nonprofit organization that teaches computer literacy to inner-city kids.
Charley owns a very successful medical supply company that distributes to major hospitals in the Pacific Northwest. Whenever I asked him about his work, he seemed embarrassed and didn’t want to talk about it. But he loves to make wine. Mention wine and he becomes completely animated. When he brings out his Pinot Noir and his Chardonnay and starts talking about next year’s crop and where he is going to travel to buy the grapes, his eyes light up. He’s loves wine and wine-making.
Charley is in the process of making a transition from his career in medical supplies to one in winemaking. Will he make as much money? Probably not, at least at first. But he comes alive when he’s involved in making wine.
We have been conditioned to think of work as a burden. How many people do you know who visibly light up when they talk about their work? Well, they should. We all should. If we fail this simple test, maybe it’s a sign that we need to explore other avenues of work that are more satisfying.
It is not a farfetched idea to find something you like doing, with people you like to be around, and have that become your life’s work. You can begin slowly. You can make the transition step by step from what you are currently doing to something you like more.
Remember that the need to earn money is not the cause of the problem. The problem is in believing that the only way to earn enough money is to continue doing something you dislike, and that you have to stay at that job until you retire because of financial concerns. Unfortunately, retirement may be a long time in coming.
Don’t put it off—you have no idea where it might lead.
You will need to commit to a plan to make the transition successful. You might have to save up a fund to get you through the start-up phase. You might have to watch your spending habits extra closely or continue working part time in your old job while you slowly begin to activate your new career. Your spouse may have to work full time while you make the transition. It may take some time and work, but it won’t happen until you take the first step.
Quit your job? You bet. A lot can happen in the next twelve or fifteen years. Start now.