An Open Letter to Anyone Who Feels Stuck in a Job They Hate
There is something I want you to know.
You are not here just to pay the bills. You are not here to sacrifice everything that enlivens you so you can retire (much later, of course) and then start to enjoy life. You are not supposed to be chained to a job that demands relentless productivity and ignores your creative spirit. Being unhappy and resigned does not serve you…or your family.
And there is something else I want you to know.
You are brilliant in a way that only you can be. And your special brand of brilliance is revealed through your longings. What you want is an expression of who you are, so honoring what you want is the most essential way to honor yourself. And honoring yourself is the most essential way to liberate the innate creativity and generosity that uplifts everyone around you.
I have coached countless people over the years and find, time and again, that the starting point (or restarting point!) for living a deeply fulfilled life is to give yourself permission to want what you really want. Not what you think you should want, or what others think you should want, or what you think is practical right now. What you truly, deeply want. What you wish for.
I’ve always felt that wishful thinking gets a bad rap. Empowered with your focus and devotion, wishful thinking becomes a visionary, creative force. And that’s because your innermost wishes and dreams are neither foolish nor impractical. They are not random. They are specific to you, and they are your calling to the life you came here to live.
You may have heard all this before and possibly dismissed it as just so much – well, wishful thinking. It probably seems especially impractical if you’re buried in an overcommitted life with a demanding job and a parade of never-ending expenses to cover. But consider this: the very thinking that dismisses wishful thinking is what got you to this place. Maybe it’s time to consider a new perspective.
Which, happily, is the one thing that will shift your life in amazing ways: a change in perspective. Here is a little-understood dynamic that, as you begin to work with it, creates what most people would consider miracles: what you focus on is what expands in your life. Another way to say it is that energy follows attention – or, as a friend of mine who recently became certified as a yoga instructor so eloquently stated, “Where the mind goes, the prana follows.”
I think we have only begun to understand the vast creative power of our attention. What we attend to is what we create and experience. So when you start attending to your wishes and dreams, rather than dismissing them, you realize them. Can you let that sink in, deeply?
When you pay attention to your dreams – earnestly, with love – they become real.
You may think you already know this – well, you do already know this – but chances are, if you’re not yet living a deeply fulfilled life, you haven’t fully trusted it. You’re not living from this simple yet challenging truth…yet. Your attention is diverted in countless ways to things you’ve been taught to believe are important, but may have nothing to do with how you want to live your life. Like many of us, you may have taken on the conditioning of a fear-based culture that is quick to tell you what is wrong and maybe downright ludicrous with your dreams. You may have unwittingly learned how to doubt your talents and abilities. You may have dismissed your dreams because you can’t see a way, right this minute, for them to generate income.
You haven’t been taught how to honor and nurture and develop your dreams. You haven’t been encouraged to listen deeply within for guidance about next steps. You haven’t yet noticed that the voice you think is “practical” is really just scared. You haven’t been shown how to sift through the myriad thoughts and experiences of your life and consciously choose to align with the ones that light you up.
But you can, and you will – all it takes is your intention, your willingness…and maybe some loving support from a good friend or coach. And let me tell you, it is well worth the effort. You can start right here, right now by simply deciding to change your perspective. Decide that you will pay attention to your dreams, and begin to notice any thought, memory, idea or experience that lines up with them. Look for things to line up with them.
This is a deceptively simple yet potent practice that yields surprising results, and it works because of two related dynamics of energy and attention. The first is that we tend to see only what we’re looking for, and the second is the one I mentioned above: what we focus on is what expands in our lives. So first you need to make the choice to look for anything and everything that lines up with your dreams. Start by spending some quality time with your innermost thoughts and wishes…then begin to consider all the ways your dreams might be possible rather than all the ways they aren’t…then decide to look for anything in your outer world that already displays elements of your dream, or could be a resource needed to bring it to life. Keep deepening and expanding your focus on those things. Be willing to let your newly-focused attention open you to fresh insights, ideas and next steps.
Just start there. Pay attention to where you are paying attention, and keep choosing to pay attention to what you know, in your heart of hearts, matters to you. Choose again and again. Give yourself some quality time and space to listen inward and see what your inner Wise One is nudging you to do. Then do it.
And let me know what happens.