Finding Your Life’s Work
By Lisa Grazan
"While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can't and that is why
They know not if it's dark outside or light"
~ Elton John
Had I paid attention to those lyrics much earlier in my career, I would've saved myself years of overwhelming stress and struggle. These lyrics immediately come to mind when I think about how many of us get caught up in the whirlwind of working at a job that not only monopolizes our time and energy, but leave us feeling unfulfilled to boot.
You see, I was one of those "Mona Lisas". After the paper chase of earning a law degree, I was immersed for the next thirty years in analyzing black letter law, interpreting sub-paragraphs of statutes, crafting legal briefs and motions, anticipating an opponent's next move, and ensuring that every submission I made to the court, or to my higher-ups in the law firm, was thoroughly researched, grammatically correct, and that every detail was perfectly perfect before I signed my name to it. Needless to say, practicing law caused me to "turn around and say good morning to the night" many a time.
Years later, it dawned on me that living the life of a lawyer really didn't suit my nature or my personality. I was just too immersed in the work itself that I couldn't give an accurate name to my restlessness or put my finger on the real problem. I became so overwhelmed with the tasks of my daily grind that I lost touch with the more meaningful parts of my life. I could certainly still tell the difference between night and day. Yet, as the song goes, on a more subtle level I really couldn't discern the "darkness" or the "light" in my life.
But I've learned that it's never too late to change your course, and when you finally do "see the sky", as Sir Elton says, it could open up a vibrantly colorful new world full of shades of darkness, light, and every hue in between.
To some people, "see the sky" literally means to turn your gaze toward the heavens. After all, getting outside in nature can help reduce stress, improve your sleep, inspire your creativity, and clear your mind. Perhaps to others, "see the sky" means to have a broader view of the world and their role in it, allowing them to put their daily work in perspective and appreciate what's really important in life. To me, "see the sky" means to shift our focus away from the chaos of what's going on in front of our eyes and tune in to the stillness of our heart, where its soft voice can whisper volumes of possibilities, where the sky's the limit, so to speak.
"Only from the heart can you touch the sky."
Opening that communication channel provides you a portal through which wisdom can flow. It offers you a clear perspective about where you are in your life and where you could possibly go. It's from our heart that we realize our true desires and our natural talents. And isn't that what "seeing the sky" is really all about anyway? It's about finding your joy, your passion, your potential, and your purpose. Rarely is it the song and dance many of us do everyday from 9 to 5.
Perhaps you secretly feel you're destined for a career that is quite different than the one you currently have, or perhaps you long for work that is far greater than what you've already accomplished. You may be getting ready to jump into this race for the first time, or you may already be midway through a career looking to change the road you're on. Perhaps you're seeking to re-enter the workforce after a short (or long) pause on the sidelines, or you may be facing the challenge of reinventing yourself and your career. Whatever your circumstances are, the question is how do you move that mountain? Well, rather than rushing to "figure it out" with a logical mind, I suggest you consult with your heart first. The message from you heart offers you a clarity like nothing else ever could. Whatever resonates with your heart will illuminate your path to success. It will far outshine any aptitude test you could ever take or logical argument you could ever make.
How do begin this journey inward to your heart? Quieting your mind is always a good place to start, whether it's through meditation, spending time in nature, or doing something you love. Pay close attention because the heart speaks in terms of feelings rather than logic. Look for what lights up your spirit rather than what makes sense on paper.
Let me caution you, however: When you have a consultation with your heart, please don't invite your mind into the conversation. Oh, chances are your mind will try to barge in (it likes to show you how smart it is). It loves to argue with you and play the devil's advocate. It also loves to throw fear into you. It lists reasons why "not to" and warns of likely consequences. It loves to talk you into or out of something that conflicts with you heart's desires.
Your heart on the other hand speaks very softly and it will never lie to you. It's kind, compassionate, and resonates with you on a deeper level than your mind ever could. What kind of work could you do all day long and not tire of it? What kind of work would you still do even if you didn't get paid for it? What subjects could you talk about forever? What topics light up your life? What activities would you never ever consider giving up? Your answers to these types of questions may be clues that point you in the direction of your life's work.
And although the journey inward can't be measured in time or distance, the destination that awaits you is priceless.
"You have no need to travel anywhere -
journey within yourself. Enter a mine of rubies
and bathe in the splendor of your own light."
But before you begin, here are a few pointers worth remembering:
The journey inward to your heart takes a tremendous amount of courage and trust but the deeper you plunge, the higher you rise.
The path inward may be winding but wherever it leads you is where you need to be. Don't second guess its direction.
The path will reveal itself to you. Rest assured, it will never fool you or send you down a blind alley that will leave you trapped.
You'll always reach your destination if you stay the course. You'll be wiser because of your journey, not in spite of it.
Journeying inward to your heart is a lot like walking a labyrinth; it's a metaphor for the journey to your center and back out again, wiser for knowing who you are at the core of your being. All you have to do is follow the path and trust it will lead you where you need to go. Unlike a maze, you can't get lost in a labyrinth. There are no wrong choices that will bring you to a halt.
So if you find yourself restless to discover your life's work and you're wondering how to go about creating it, always consult your heart. It will tap into your true desires, open up worlds of possibilities, and allow you to "see the sky". But what if you have difficulty accessing your heart's guidance, you ask? I'll refer you back to Sir Elton:
"Well they say it's a fact
If you watch the sky at night
And if you stare into the darkness
You might see celestial light
And if your heart is empty
And there's no hope in sight
There's a chance you'll find an answer in the sky"
~ Elton John
Copyright 2020, Lisa Grazan. All rights reserved.