In pursuit of contentment.
I recently told my husband I felt like a greyhound who has been chasing the wrong rabbit.
I hear it. I read it. Contentment is found within. But I struggle with “getting” it. Sure, I have moments of contentment—and when it strikes, it’s very blissful, to be sure—but I’m currently in a pattern where these moments feel woefully rare. I’m in a futz and need to find my way out. But, I have confidence I’ll figure it out, soon enough, because I’m old(er), and this is not my first rodeo.
I’m a hyper-analyzer and over thinker. This combination can make me a glass-half-empty-girl pretty quickly. I combat this by trying to get to the heart of the matter of what I really need. So, I already know that I’ve got some drilled-down, no compromise, gotta-have-it-or-I’m-outta-here qualities that must be found in my work (and life, for that matter) for my soul to be at peace.
I can try, and have tried, to talk myself out of needing these qualities when I’ve been in particular hot pursuit of what looks to be an incredible income, but I’ve learned that, no matter how good it looks, money is NOT a major motivator of mine. Don’t get me wrong, I can spend money with the best of them. I’ve redone my floors, gone on a trip to Europe, and paid off debt, all in 5 minutes—in my mind—long before my first paycheck. But, I’ve also learned that if I don’t have my particular non-financial needs met, I won’t last, no matter how tempting the salary.
Pursuit of joy, enjoyment, and contentment eventually overtake greed. And if I don’t act on it, then resentment, misplaced anger, and depression sets in until I do.
Aging can have some advantages (although, word finding capabilities would not be one of them). I’ve now lived long enough to quickly identify malcontent, and can just as quickly tap into perspective that youth often lacks.
For instance, I know I need variety, personal space, communication, and autonomy. I no longer compromise on these items. Both good and bad jobs have told me something about myself. How unfortunate it would be to not learn from both successful career situations, as well as career flops!
Here are some prompts that I’ve used to narrow down what situations are important, even necessary, for me, in any work situation.
- I was most happy when I worked at _______ and did ________.
- I prefer/can’t tolerate sitting in the same environment daily (cubical, office, counter).
- Do I like to work with a few of the same people (coworkers) daily?
- Do I like to work with a wide variety of people (the public) daily?
- Does being with people energize or exhaust me?
- What would I like to see myself doing in the future?
- what would I do if money needn’t be a consideration?
- Describe an environment that brings me peace and one that stresses me out.
- Identify a time when I got chills over what I was doing.
- What topic or action would my friends/family say I would light up over?
If I had a dollar for every time a friend, or even stranger, for that matter, told me I should be a speaker for a living, well, I don’t want to be cliche, but I’d have a little bit of money in my pocket. I finally realized I was made to be a communicator. It’s what I love. It’s where I get great validation. It has provided me moments of overwhelming joy. I finally put 2 plus 2 together after turning 40.
Here’s my bottom line. Life is short. Time is precious, more precious than money. You can make more money but can’t increase your 24 hour daily allotment. Choose wisely. Spend it well. We spend A LOT of life working. Go Big or Go Home! Ok, I got a little carried away there, but it’s only because I am VERY passionate about this issue.
As a nurse, I am always reminded about the fleeting nature of life and how we all take this time we have for granted.When you’ve narrowed down the aspects of life you NEED to be content, decided what actions need to be taken to get you here. And then step out of your confidence zone and do it (I know comfort zone is the typical description, but I think it truly boils down to confidence vs comfort. I’m not sure why that distinction is even important to me, but I’m still going to stick with it.)
I recently met a lovely young woman in a new job. She reminds me of myself 20 years ago on so many levels. I helped her orchestrate getting a job she really wanted simply because I encouraged her to step out of her confidence zone and chase what she really wanted. Not only are they creating a position just for her, she has also expanded the situations in which she has more confidence. She was in a futz, and now she’s found contentment. I’m inspired and invigorated to find mine.