In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings, Rachel Remen tells a story about a doctor who had to deliver a baby in the hallway of the emergency room area. He had delivered other babies but not like this. While swabbing the baby’s face, she opened her eyes and looked right at him: he was the first person she had ever seen.
This experience changed the doctor’s way of proceeding. He regarded this as a “holy moment.” He remembered why he chose this line of work. He felt validated. His cynicism fell away. Now, he seeks holy moments constantly.
He became more invigorated, more inspired, and started to interact with more of his patients and his co-workers. Soon, he was invited to events he had never participated in before. His whole world opened up.
Flexing Your Muscles
Finding meaning is a capacity that we build, like a muscle. When you first started in your current position, finding meaning was not an issue. You were excited. There was so much you wanted to do. You had all kinds of plans. Then, years passed.
Little by little perhaps you became jaded. Why did I choose this line of work? Why can’t I find competent help? Why are clients so demanding?
It is possible, even now, to reinvent yourself on the job, to rediscover what initially attracted you to this profession and what the current possibilities might be. Sometimes the re-awakening is triggered by attending a conference or convention, reading a vital book, or spending time with a colleague or peer.
Not an Extension of Yesterday
Today and the days that follow do not have to be extensions of what came before. You do not have to proceed into the future looking through a rearview mirror. A world of choices awaits, even if in the same old position you’ve been holding down for years.
Will you make new choices? And what will drive those choices?
Discovering or rediscovering meaning is about getting clear on what’s most important to you and aligning your choices with those priorities. It’s about living and working with intention instead of operating on autopilot or by default, where one day looks exactly like the next.
What Matters Now?
Start by identifying what’s most important to you … today, not what was important five, ten, or 20 years. Is it creativity, or perhaps collaboration? Maybe it’s impact or flexibility?
Next, identify what professional –- and this might be different than your current profession! –- and personal goals align with those priorities. What does living or working more creatively look like? If, say, collaboration matters to you, how can you incorporate more collaboration into the work you do?
From here, you’ll want to pinpoint actions or choices that support those goals. Where are your current choices in or out of alignment with what you’ve identified as most important? What new, more intentional choices can you make?
An Everyday Affair
You are creating your life every day. Every choice you make, action or inaction, determines the quality of your life. So, making the choice to live and work with intention and in alignment is truly the key to cultivating a life of meaning and fulfillment.
If not now, when?