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You Won’t Find Meaningful Work Looking Outside Yourself

Photo Credit: Thomas Leuthard via Compfight


You’ve scoured the job boards, spoke with friends and family, yet still you aren’t any closer to finding the meaningful work you desire. You dream of rolling out of bed and feeling pulled towards the work you’re doing. Starting the day with passion instead of having to hook yourself up to an IV of coffee to get the blood pumping.

You crave this with all your heart, yet it still eludes you.

How, after all these years and failed experiments are you no closer than when you started?

You’ve experienced moments of flow. The fleeting times when you dissolve into your work and the activity at hand. Yet, they disappear just as fast as they came. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life waiting for these moments to occur.

You want to create them for yourself.

You’ve Been Looking In All the Wrong Places

Whenever we’re trying to find work that makes us come alive we always begin the search outside of ourselves. We rarely, if ever, go within and start asking ourselves the questions we turn to others for.

Even if there was a point we were to begin asking ourselves these questions, surely it would feel awkward. At most we leave with a few insights that evaporate into thin air, at worst we devalue what we’ve found and continue to flounder.

We’re notoriously bad at finding what makes us come alive. Instead of exploration we choose conformity. We choose blending in over taking the plunge and standing out. In doing this we never explore the depths we need to reach, the place where the true gems of our existence are hiding.

We’ve Been Taught to Always Turn to Others

For the most part this isn’t your fault. Looking around do you see a society filled with passionate engaged workers, who can’t wait to burst out of bed in the morning? The answer is no. Most people get by on the day-to-day. Work is something done out of spite or simply to continue living.

There is no love, no deeper meaning. You feel like an outcast because this is what you crave.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” -Jiddu Krishnamurti

If the world we’re part of doesn’t support our goals and dreams and instead constantly pulls us towards conformity, then why do we keep asking it for wisdom and guidance? Most likely, out of fear of uncertainty and the unknown. It’s always easier to follow the crowd than walk your own path. By diverging you leave yourself standing alone, your back exposed against the masses of the world.

Our only option towards finding the work we desire is to go inward. We must turn to ourselves and ask what we normally ask of others. It’s time to rebel against your conditioning.

You Must Build Your Golden Thread

The keys to all the answers you seek lie within. Building your golden thread is the process of distilling your past experiences, dreams and gifts into a thread that runs throughout your entire life. This thread is already present, it’s simply your job to uncover it and direct it into the future.

Right now your job is that of an archeologist exploring a dig, with each brush stroke you unveil more and more of what’s hidden beneath the rock. Finally, you unearth a beautiful fossil.

By finding this thread you can consciously shape its destiny. This thread is expressed in many forms throughout your life. You’ll be digging through your past the gain glimpses of it’s power. Once you’ve found it you’ll know. You’ll feel it deep within your bones.

Once you’ve uncovered the thread it’s time to put it to work.

Putting Your Newfound Thread to Work

During your exploration you might unearth a lot of dirt that’s unexpected. You’ll have to take the good with the bad and recognize that when undergoing transformative change you might find some things that are unexpected. Take some time and answer each of these questions.

After you’re done diving into past experiences, see what rings true across all of them. If you look hard enough you’ll find a current that runs throughout.

1. What did you love and dream of doing as a child?

2. When do you find yourself losing track of time and the world?

3. In what kind of experiences do you feel fully present?

Now that you’ve gained insights into what this golden thread encompasses, it’s time to channel this thread into work that brings you to life.

1. How can you use your gifts best in service of the world?

2. Is there anyone doing work that you’d to love to mimic?

3. If not mimic, how about a similar flavor?

By combining the insights you’ve gained from both sets of questions you’ll have your thread and have ideas at how you might mold it to show up in the world. You can use current examples of people doing what you want to do, or take pieces of work that brings you that spark and make your own puzzle.

Your journey towards meaningful work has begun.

What’s your biggest struggle in finding what makes you come alive? 

Kevin Wood is a writer who helps you consciously rebel from the norms and create a meaningful life. Connect with him at Counter Culturist.

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