I believe everyone would love to find their ultimate purpose in life, their purpose for being, doing what they feel most passionate about. Not everyone will. In fact, most do not. Only about 10 % do. Why?
I see people living their entire lives laboring away at work they don’t really enjoy, or even hate, but they will not make a change. So, they toil away. Sometimes angry, always resentful, passing time for some point way off in the future when happiness is supposed to be there waiting for them.
In the meantime, the chance for happiness only occurs 52 times a year, on the weekends, plus holidays? Is this the way life is supposed to be lived?
Every year since 1987, The Conference Board has run a jobs satisfaction survey. In 2014, 52.3% of workers reported being unhappy with their work. Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace showed 70% of workers either hate their jobs or feel completely disengaged.
How did this happen? It happened innocently enough, at first. The onset was slow and insidious in the beginning. It accelerated when we became adults.
Remember when we were children and everything looked new and wonderful and imagined possibilities were endless? The dreams, oh the dreams we had, of faraway places in faraway lands where we led exciting lives doing what we felt we were meant to do.
Were those dreams stolen or did we give them away? Did we let go of them or did we set them aside? I believe I know.
We grew and went off to school. We let our inner voice be silenced by outer cries for conformity. We had to sit in our seats and be quiet like everyone else. We had to look the same and do the same things even though we were all different. We had to color within the lines. We had to live within the lines and do what others expected us to do.
The others couldn’t hear our inner voice. How could they. When we told others about what our inner voice was telling us to do some laughed, some said it wasn’t good enough, some told us what we were going to do instead, some called it silly. Eventually, the inner voice fell silent.
Most of us went off to college because that was what we were supposed to do. Many college students still don’t know what they want to be when they show up for classes because they have lost touch with their inner voice. They are directionless because that is the way they feel.
Many leave college feeling the same way. The solution? For some, they just give up and drop out. For others, more education. We have produced a large population of highly educated individuals with a complete lack of self-awareness.
We chose careers which would make us a lot of money, give us prestige, make us feel important, or because it was what someone else wanted us to do, something which would make them happy instead of ourselves.
Oh, and don’t forget about the bills. Many who graduated went to work in areas outside their field of study or took jobs which required no degree at all because they had to get a job. They had to pay the bills.
Students are graduating with mortgages and no house. They’re called student loans. Then, once freed from the educational system it became time to buy the ubiquitous stuff. A house, car(s), boat, camper, vacation home, and flat screen TV’s in every room whose sole purpose is to get us interested in buying more stuff. These have become the new dreams most people chase now. Never have we had so much and been so unhappy.
We did all of this because we have to sit in our seats and be quiet like everyone else. We have to look the same and do the same things even though we were all different. We have to color within the lines. We have to live within the lines and do what others expect us to do. Remember?
We became locked into a paradigm not of our own design. We go off to work every day feeling unfulfilled, doing work which isn’t meaningful to us. We haven’t grown in quite a while. We feel burned out but we just continue on without changing because we have resigned ourselves to believing this is just the way it is, the way it will be.
Now we fear what’s different. Ironically, our own dreams now seem strange and unrealistic to us. Every new thought becomes an impossibility. We have come to fear challenge and change.
We offer up excuses as to why we can’t find our big why — it’s too late for me, I can’t afford it, I don’t have the right education, I have no marketable talents, this person or this thing is holding me back, I’m not good enough, I’ll likely fail, no one will want what I have to offer, I’m no good, it’s not the right time.
This is just a recitation of what we have been told throughout our lives or what we perceive in others who are in the same boat, before our inner voice was silenced. All barriers are mental barriers.
Even though most aren’t doing the work they love and may be doing work they hate, they put their heads down and settled into a comfortable misery. They developed a certain mindset. The fear of change has outweighed the uncomfortableness of complacency. They become stuck.
Again, I’ll ask why?
Can we agree on a set of certain universal principals when it comes to anyone’s purpose in life, a purpose which can be called your big WHY?
- Every person has a unique set of God given talents and abilities.
- It is up to the individual to discover what they are and develop them in a way which is beneficial to others, thereby benefiting themselves.
- No one will do this for you.
- Others will try to discourage you from pursuing your own brand of happiness in this way. They are still sitting in their seats, coloring within the lines, expecting you to do the same.
- You are free to choose the life you wish to lead.
- You have no time but today.
- Your dreams are still there, inside of you, along with a child who desperately wants to see them to come true.
If you agree with these principals and feel you haven’t found your big why, if you feel burned out at work, if you feel you aren’t using your unique set of talents and abilities for purposeful work and a life of passion, the question is no longer why. It’s WHY NOT?
It’s never too late to decide differently for yourself. Your pursuit of happiness begins the moment you decide to turn the question “why not” into the statement, “WHY NOT!”
I wrote this post for the one person who may be reading this who feels exactly as I have described but also feels it’s time for change, the one person who is tired of living their life according to someone else’s script. Is it you?
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Photo: Getty Images
Originally Published on Clark Gaither