Go to work.
Get to work.
I have a lot of work to do.
I am working on …
What kind of work do you do?
The word “work” is ubiquitous in our society. Especially the American psyche that values work ethic, productivity and results.
I’d like to present a different kind of work — let’s call it Your Life’s Work. This work requires curiosity, contemplation, humility, courage, consistency, failure. It requires you to release attachments and expectations. It requires you to challenge what you think is true.
In this work of living, we are all working with our own version of the same three things:
No matter your circumstances, these three things are the building blocks for whatever life you are creating. They are the essence of your reality.
Let’s break them down …
There is an is-ness to life that is beneath (or above?) all of the ideas, shoulds/should nots, more, better, when, if. Is-ness is material reality and it involves a number of parts:
- Resources — what are the tangible and intangible assets you have at hand? This could include tools, technical skills, creativity, knowledge, personality traits, intellect, beliefs, energy (physical, mental, spiritual). In a crisis situation, taking an audit of what’s available is one of the very first things you are instructed to do. By understanding your resources, you can then get creative.
- Relationships — who can you call? Who can you ask for help from? Who can you serve? Unless you are in an actual solo survival situation, you are not intended to work alone. This is one of the many reasons why nurturing and expanding your network of friendships is so critical. Each person you have a real connection with has something to offer you — and you to them.
- Conditions — what are material realities that you find yourself in? This could be financial, health, mental, familial, geographic location. Each of these conditions influences how we see what we are working with. Often this means to “embrace the suck” — to accept that some conditions we find ourselves in aren’t fun.
We are all working within the cloud of Not Knowing. To eliminate this harsh reality and sense of impermanence, our ego-mind produces a bunch of framing devices: assumptions, conjecture, projections and more. These become our biases, which then become our world view. Yet the Unknown is still there. While you can use data, past experiences and good planning to prepare for the unknown, you can’t really control it. So you work with it. To accept that the Unknown is real requires faith. Not necessarily religious faith — although that’s certainly an option. Let’s call it practical faith — the courage to move forward into the Unknown to let things be revealed, experienced, learned. This is so much more rewarding than hunkering down in a defensive posture. Nothing good really happens there. All of the good stuff is out in the Unknown. Walking forward into the Unknown reveals strengths and gifts you didn’t know you had. Venturing, however uncertain your steps are, into the Unknown shows you that courage is underrated, that most risk is an illusion and that you are well equipped to handle whatever comes your way.
Who you truly are is your #1 asset. Some call this soul, true self, original self, being — I simply call it Core Self. This Core Self contains a vast array of things to work with, but specifically these two things:
- Your Mission. Your Core Self is here for a specific purpose or reason. When you do the work to discover your Core Self, you also discover your mission — the thing you are here to do that only you can do. Your mission then becomes the primary organizing principle of your life; the primary decision-making tool. Your mission greatly determines your career, your relationships, where you live, what you focus on. This is why the journey to find your Core Self is almost always full of struggle and pain. Especially when the life you were trying to build turns out to be different than what your Core Self wants and is.
- Your Gifts. Skills are learned. Gifts are inherent. And we all have a variety of gifts at our disposal that come from soul, mind and body. The greatest gift of soul is intuition. The greatest gift of the mind is introspection. And the greatest gift of the body is movement. Those seem to be onboard gifts that we all have. From there, you can expand out to discover gifts that are unique to you. Hint: they will be in support of your mission.
It is certain that some things need to be acquired to master your work — mostly experience. But the apprenticeship of your life’s work can be started right now, today — using what you have, embracing the unknown, being who you truly are.