Things sure have changed.
Western society is moving from a manufacturing model to service industries. Long time employees are being shown the door as companies do more for less, trying to economize with automation and outsourcing. People who have led comfortable – if uninspired – lives suddenly find themselves on the street with an uncertain future; still too far away from retirement age, and without enough saved to finance a long retirement. Maybe they still have kids in school. And don’t even get me started about the way governments have behaved, buying votes our votes (though I suppose we’re to blame for that too).
What’s a soul to do?
Look for the silver lining. What all of this is doing is making us reinvent ourselves, and I’d suggest this isn’t a bad thing. It is a disruptive time, but one is forced to examine their gifts and passions. Is it possible we will find out what we were meant to do?
I believe very much in the idea that we all have a calling on our lives. We are wonderfully complex people, each with our special gifts, quirks and viewpoints; and I believe we all – every one of us – has something special to contribute that nobody else can do.
I’ve been a printer for 31 years, but I didn’t grow up dreaming about being a printer; I just sort of drifted into it, was reasonably good at it, and it stuck. There was no sense of purpose in what I wound up in.
Then I discovered design; happily, something that connects nicely my print experience, but not limited by it. I can design a book or magazine, but I can also design for the iPad or the internet. Now this was more of a calling, and in 2010 I took the plunge and started up a design company. It’s been a disruptive, scary time as we left the security of a wage job for something more uncertain – but like some sort of adrenaline junkie, I’ve never felt more alive. I can now:
- Work to a more flexible schedule
- Learn more (in fact my financial success demands it)
- Share with the world, living in a culture of generosity.
- Meet incredible, upbeat people who have a can-do attitude – every week.
- Do for a living what gives me joy
- Being the only one responsible for your success – not standing on the sidelines while management makes a decision that might cost you your job
- Sheer freedom!
Imagine waking up looking forward to the next project, the next time you are able to give the world a gift that comes from somewhere deep inside. Working to our own schedule, and in an office that can be just down the hallway. That’s the sort of world we can expect.
There’s a lot of relearning to do, and we will be stretched. Sometimes it’s a lot of work to dig down deep to find that sweet spot, something you love that has a reasonable chance of being a career. It’s not always fun, and your comfort zone will be violated on a regular basis. But that’s OK. We’ll be better people, and the world will be a better place for it. All we have to do is hang in there.
So go out there and celebrate your own Independence Day. You can have the joy of doing what you love. Who knows? You might even get rich doing it.