When we look ahead at our next steps; career moves or goals we want to achieve, there’s a search that goes on. A search for pleasure. We’re looking for which role, opportunity or experience will give us the most of this. The greatest reward for our time.
That’s a good thing. It’s good to be proactive about your own pleasure sources. One thing we aren’t able to do though, is pre-judge our feelings. Until we are there living it, we can’t really know how much we’ll enjoy something. That’s why life coaches and yogis place so much emphasis on the present, because in many ways it’s all we know.
But how can accepting this reality, help us make better choices about which path to pursue?
Well, first off, by reminding us to place our options in context. Say you’re interested in a career in Law, you may have been drawn there because the parents of a friend you grew up with were lawyers, and they seemed to have a nice life. Nice house, weekends away, second home, skiing holidays etc. You could see yourself living that life in the future.
But look again at the bit you’re seeing. The house, the weekends. They aren’t the results of a career in law. They are the results of a salary, gained in their case, through a career in law. It isn’t them in the office, reading through legal documents that’s sparked your interest. Now that’s not to say that a career in law isn’t the best way for you to attain the life you’re after. However it’s good to realise it’s actually the salary you’re attracted to and there are limitless ways to earn that amount of money.
What if your ‘next step’ is totally different?
You aren’t chasing salary but fulfilment. You’ve got to a place where choices you made in the past suddenly feel pointless and your favourite times of the week are the two hours of yoga you do. I work in advertising and, as a fairly competitive industry there was an early joke that it was a career people did until 30 at which point they threw in the towel and became a yoga teacher in Bali.It isn’t a rare conclusion to reach, that taking a paycut to pursue what gives you pleasure and peace is a good one. In so many ways, I agree it can be. There is no reason you should subscribe to a 9 to 5. Having a happy, healthy, mind is the most important thing in your life. The problem is the polarity of these two lifestyles is a lot. And it might not be the best kind of ‘a lot’. While you may love practising yoga, teaching it may have a very different effect. It’s definitely going to have a shift when that thing you used to do for calm and joy, suddenly becomes your primary source of income.
What is it you’re actually seeking? Is it peace, or perhaps it’s purpose? I would argue that without a sense of purpose you will never be good at something. If your current corporate career isn’t giving you that feeling, rather than jump into something radically different, take some time with a pen and paper to work out what does and has given you that feeling.
Purpose also doesn’t necessarily = something ‘good’, such as ‘helping people’. It might just be making a difference. Whether to a balance sheet, sales figures, or company culture. Creating something or having a visible impact.
Maybe start with what makes you feel proud and go from there. Pride can be very positive and powerful emotional force. It’s not always the enemy we’re told it is.
Yoga might be in your life to give you the mental clarity to find the answer, rather than being the answer itself. Of course it may not, but it’s worth considering.
At some point you will have to take gamble, leaps of faith and all of the risks. But your chances of success will ultimately be far greater if you are absolutely clear on the why.