I’m 27 and I still want to change the world. Over a decade ago, I remember telling my guidance counselor about wanting to make a difference in the world as a career and she told me I needed to get a “real job.” I thought to myself seriously, what the hell is that supposed to mean? For goodness’ sake, my dad is a rancher/singer/architect, I can be anything I damn well please. I blocked her from my life after that.
When I was in high school, I used to see a psychiatrist (more about that at another time). I recall one particular instance where we fell on the topic of what I wanted to do with my life. Yes, I admit at that time I was a hyper idealist (I still am in many regards), so I probably told her something about wanting to halt the LRA or travelling to different countries to work with street kids. What really hit home for me though was our discussion about the difference between work and Work.
Work with a little w- work, is your day job, it’s what you do to bring home the metaphorical bacon. It’s how you provide for your basic survival needs. Work with a big W- Work, is what you do for fun, what you thrive on, what you’re passionate about, what invigorates you. She told me that sometimes you don’t always get paid for your Work and that can be okay. The most important thing is that you’re actually making time to do it.
It’s true. There have been times I’ve worked and done my real Work on the side. I’ve made pourovers for Yaleys and professors, dumped compost bins, and frothed milk for cappuccinos while blogging on the side and helping plan youth peace conferences. Hell, I dedicated two years of my life to working as an Americorps VISTA, which meant I lived in poverty to do what I loved. So, yes, it can be done, you can have your work and your Work and they can be completely separate but you need both. You need to have some means of income, you need to be able to provide for your basic needs. That is utterly and completely necessary. If you can’t take care of yourself, that’s it, there’s nothing else you can do. It goes right along with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Before you can move up to self-actualization you need to meet physiological needs like being able to eat and having shelter.
You also need your Work. You need to have that which lightens your soul, that brings you soul smiles and bliss. You need to be doing something that fulfills you and gives your life purpose. The questions is, how can you make your work and your Work be one? How can you make that which you love be that which you get paid for? It’s when you find the convergence of the two that you’re good to go.
If you don’t know what your Work is, here are some questions to get you started.
1) What makes you smile?
2) When you think about what you want to be when you “grow up”, is there something that you keep returning to?
3) What did you want to be when you were little?
What is your work? What is your Work?