A counselor, a teacher, a personal career coach... My list of possible careers was much longer. When I went to graduate school and studied career theories, I thought about my natural strengths, experiences, and interests and imagined all of the things I would like to do. The opportunities for an idealistic graduate student seemed limitless.
After graduating my life quickly changed, the economy sank, and my career options seemed to shrink. After years thinking about what I really wanted to do, where I wanted to work, and who I would like to work with, I found that the opportunities were not as I had expected. Instead of working at a university, I started a career center at a nonprofit. I worked with people in crisis, transition, and recovery. After months of helping people find training and employment opportunities, I found that my heart went out to people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Everyone has unique challenges, and everyone has a story.
I recently decided to start a publishing business to help people tell their stories, share information, and promote their businesses. The work I am doing did not show up on any of my "personality type" or "interest inventories". I am not even necessarily in the "flow" while I am working on these projects. It's work! But it's work that needs to be done. I have developed a positive attitude over the years toward the work I need to do. I am sometimes even in the "zone" for part of the work. But my purpose for work is not just to satisfy myself, but as Sunny Hansen says in her Integrative Life Planning Theory to ask myself, “How will what I do in my life contribute to community?” How will it affect my family and make the world a better place to live?
As I watch the birds and geese busily working on feeding, grooming, and cleaning the water, I don't see them contemplating about what they most want to do that day. (Although that could be what they are chattering about.) I think they are looking for work that needs to be done. In all of our efforts to find the "stuff" we love to have, and the work we want to do, it's worth considering the "work that needs doing."
40 minutes walking