“What do you do for a living?” That’s an odd phrase when you think about it.
“How do you make a living?” That’s another one.
For those of us interested in personal development, a better question may be, “What do you do to make a life?”
Or, more specifically, ” How do you continually recreate your best possible life? How do you manifest the life you were born to live?”
Is there a particular profession, business or service you were born to fulfill? Are there different niches that fit you perfectly, at different times of your life?
These are questions to be answered one person at a time, in the privacy of your own mind, heart and soul. If you never get around to asking the questions, then FOR YOU, the answer is likely, “no.”
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford (1863-1947)
“It is the first of all problems for a man to find out what kind of work he is to do in this universe. Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness.” – Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)
Do You Get to Work . . . or Do You Have to Go to Your Job?
For most people, a job is something they have to do. It’s not a “want-to” . . . it’s more of a “have-to.”
“If you do not feel yourself growing in your work and your life broadening and deepening, if your task is not a perpetual tonic to you, you have not found your place.” – Orison Swett Marden
Working for More Freedom
Getting a job feels like less of a choice and more of a requirement of our society and culture. What we all really want is total freedom — freedom to choose how we spend our precious, fleeting moments. We get a job to get a paycheck to allow us to buy at least a degree of freedom.
“When work is a pleasure, life is a joy! When work is a duty, life is slavery.” – Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)
Are You Doing Your Life’s Work . . . or Just a Job?
Job dissatisfaction is running rampant worldwide, so there is clearly something wrong. A Gallup pole revealed that over 33% surveyed would feel happier with another job. One in three! Are you one of them?
“Men who do their work without enjoying it are like men carving statues with hatchets.” — Anonymous
Why are so many people frustrated with their jobs? Perhaps relatively few have ever taken a time-out pit-stop from the rat race long enough to ask themselves, “Is my work just a job or visible love?”
“When you work, you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. To love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s most inmost secret. All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” — Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
Beyond the Job
It’s necessary to think outside the box in order to allow what you love to merge with your work. We are programmed by the education system to go to school and get a job. That’s the goal: get a job.
“A job is what we do for money; work is what we do for love.” – Marysarah Quinn
Just getting a job is okay for many; it allows our society to function — but for those of us who demand more out of life, a job is not enough.
“The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life.” – Charles Schwab
To feel complete, happy and fulfilled, the moments of our life need to be full of rewarding, satisfying activities. We enjoy our days because we enjoy our work. (But we also expect our actions and our work to make a difference in the world.)
“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the enjoyment of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)
Those of us interested in on-going personal growth intend that our lives continue to get better and better, as our outer actions continue to get into better alignment with our inner being. How do we do this?
A good start is to do what you love.
“My father always told me, ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’” – Jim Fox
After you’ve determined WHAT you love, look around for examples of people who have made a living (and a life) by doing that. Learn what you can from others and then proceed in your own unique way. (This was discussed in detail in a previous article entitled, “Your Passion as Your Compass.”)
“Never follow somebody else’s path; it doesn’t work the same way twice for anyone…the path follows you and rolls up behind you as you walk, forcing the next person to find their own way.” – J. Michael Straczynski
Your Life’s Priorities
Here’s a fun exercise to get your creative juices flowing: Imagine you have just won the lottery. Money (or the lack thereof) is no longer in the equation — it’s not an issue. How will you spend your days? What will you choose to do with your moments that will bring you joy?
Go ahead and think about it now, and write down what comes to mind. Do it now. I’ll wait . . .
“It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work. They seem to insist on somebody else doing their thinking for them.” – Thomas Edison (1847-1931)
Now, look at what you just wrote down. (You did play along by writing things down, didn’t you?) Are you doing any of those things now? If not, why not?
No time? Make time — it’s obviously important to you. This simple exercise has helped you bring your priorities into focus.
Your Joy, Happiness and Fulfillment Index
For further clarification, ask yourself, “When have I felt happiest? When was I most joyful? When did I feel most fulfilled?”
What caused those feelings? What were you doing? Be receptive to ways that allow you to continue doing those things that have brought you joy.
(For more details along these lines, see a previous article entitled, “10 Steps to Discovering Your Life’s Purpose.”)
“The fact remains that the overwhelming majority of people who have become wealthy have become so thanks to work they found profoundly absorbing. The long term study of people who eventually became wealthy clearly reveals that their “luck” arose from accidental dedication they had to an arena they enjoyed.” – Srully D. Blotnick (b. 1941)
Looking Back at Your Lifetime
Imagine yourself for a moment near the end of this life, and fill-in-the-blank: “If only I would have made time for _______. My life would have been so much more fun and satisfying if I would have only _______.”
Does it seem too difficult? Too much trouble? Do you feel like the odds are stacked against you? How is it going to feel on your death bed if you never even try?
Maybe it’s a little uncomfortable to think about it now, but just image how much more uncomfortable it will be then. It’s easier to think about it now, while you still have time to do something about it.
“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.” – Dale Carnegie (1888-1955)
When You Know the “What” . . . Allow the “How” to Come to You
The next step is to make an intention to discover ways to make your living (and your life) while actively engaged in your favorite activities.
Other people are doing it, so it’s possible for you to do it too. They have probably learned techniques and procedures along the way to help them make a living while they do what they love. You can learn those techniques and procedures too.
“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” – Confucius (c. 551-479? BC)
“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” – Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973)
It’s Never Been Easier to Find the Information You Need
These days, there’s no excuse. The internet is a tremendous resource for learning whatever you choose. You can learn about anything in the comfort of your bathrobe by parking yourself in front of the computer screen. (As an example, seven months ago, I had not even heard of blogging. When I did, it seemed like a good fit. So, I used the techniques discussed in the very first article, posted on January 1st, entitled, “The Power of Beginning.” I decided what I wanted, I began, and now I am learning as I go along.)
You can do the same, regardless of what new skills you would like to have. You will be amazed at how things begin to fall into place, once you make a decision of what you want and simply begin!
“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” — Plato (c.428-c.348 B.C.)
Become a magnet of helpful information. Intend for the right information to show up at exactly the right time. Get smarter. Yes, it takes effort, but it’s worth it. What could be more important than living your life joyously and feeling fulfilled on a moment-to-moment basis?
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison (1847-1931)
“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” – Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Quantum Leaps Are Rare
If it’s a long way from where you are to where you want to be, be patient and grow into your vision gradually. A sudden switch sometimes works, but the important thing is for the switch to stick. By laying the proper foundation, you ease into your new life comfortably without the risk of the contrast being too much of a shock.
“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.” – Richard Bach (b. 1936)
For instance, if you feel stuck in a dead-end job and if going to work doesn’t feel anything like love, it may be time to make a change. Your personal satisfaction and healthy self-image depend on it. Your general health and well-being also depend upon choosing work that is in tune with your values.
“If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work.” – Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
Once you make the decision to do something about it, you have two choices:
1. Quit immediately and run the risk of an uncomfortable situation as you scramble for income to pay the bills . . . or
2. Stay at your job for a while longer and change your attitude. Begin learning how others are successfully making a living doing whatever you have defined as your primary passion. Model their methods, but do it in your own unique way and in your own time.
The attitude change goes something like this: “I am grateful for this paycheck and see the value of it. I am preparing myself to make the switch to a passion-driven life. It feels so good imagining my life focused around my passion. I feel so happy and grateful now that I realize it is possible to create my ideal lifestyle deliberately.”
“If you do not love what you do and do what you love, you have chosen mayhem over music.” — Dr. Wayne Dyer
It’s All About Choosing
This quote is especially pertinent for my wife, Janey, and me. We chose music over mayhem many years ago because it is one of the things we love. We enjoy making music together even when we are doing it for free. We feel our life is “on-purpose” and love the life we have created.
“Enthusiasm is unmistakable evidence that you’re in love with your work.” — Anonymous
Even though there have been plenty of experiences of uncertainty through the years, our focus has remained on doing what we love, no matter what.
“Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done right.” – Walt Disney (1901-66)
Go with the Flow
When we are doing it right, it feels like we are in a canoe, effortlessly floating downstream with the current. We rarely have the visibility to see what is around the next bend, but we don’t worry about it. We just assume it will be good, and it usually is.
“I feel that you are justified in looking into the future with true assurance, because you have a mode of living in which we find the joy of life and the joy of work harmoniously combined. Added to this is the spirit of ambition which pervades your very being, and seems to make the day’s work like a happy child at play. (referring to America, although it sounds like he could have been talking directly to Janey and me!)” – Albert Einstein (1875-1955)
Don’t Let Your Unobserved Mind Work Against You
There have been times when I slip a little and become overly concerned that I can’t see what’s coming next. It’s all too easy to allow the mind to drift, and then run rampant and begin to focus on disaster. “What if there’s a big boulder around the next bend and what if we hit it and break the canoe? And what if we fall in the water and it’s too cold? And what if we loose our paddles? And what if . . . ”
(This idea of worry being creative visualization used backwards is discussed in detail in a previous article entitled, “The Law of Attraction.”)
“It is not hard work that kills men, it is worry.” – Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)
Whenever I catch myself doing that, I immediately and deliberately take my mind off of what I dread, and instead, I focus my attention on what I would most like to see.
“Sometimes my thoughts are little,
Even when I think I’m thinkin’ abundant,
Wondering why not, instead of what I want.
I want it, yes I do . . . Oh, yes I do . . . Or maybe not,
The balance of my thought reflects exactly what I’ve got.”
- from the song, “It’ll Be All Right Now” by Tupelo Kenyon
Of course, there are surprises, just like any ride on a river, but that’s what makes it fun. That’s adventure. It’s life, and the unexpected serendipities are Janey’s favorite part. (I like them too.)
“Life is what happens to you,
While you’re busy making other plans.”
— John Lennon (1940-1980)
The river has always provided for us, even during those times when we couldn’t imagine how. (We should all take a hint from John Lennon and spent less time fearing the worst and more time imagining the best.)
Just like riding along on the current, the right thing has always showed up at the right time. It’s uncanny and it has happened so many times, now we are no longer surprised by it. In fact, we expect it and count on it daily.
“Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitably bring about right results.” – James Lane Allen (1849-1923)
Have a Nice Ride
This experience has been a good lesson on: It’s not about the destination — it’s all about the journey. We have enjoyed the journey. We have loved the ride. And we feel fulfilled and grateful about making our living (and our life) by doing what we love. At this point, it’s hard to imagine doing it any other way.
With over thirty years of experience in this area, it is one of my most heart-felt recommendations: Just do what you love . . . and trust.
There will be a way. You’ll see.
“And no one but you can find the answer to your quest,
Your answer’s for you and not all the rest.
(You know your answer’s the best, it’s not a contest.)
The question is easy enough, and any honest answer is good enough,
You really gotta know . . . what do you love?
Do what you love.”
-from the song, “Do What You Love” by Tupelo Kenyon (written in 1989)
Delight in the Surprises
You may not be able to see the entire journey spread out before you right now from your current vantage point . . . but why would you want to? It’s more fun to take it as it comes, and delight in the surprises and serendipities . . . as well as the specific details you deliberately create through the power of your imagination and intent.
“I’m taking the plunge, ready to lunge off the deep end.
Here I go, caution to the wind.
Cruisin’ on enthusiasm, taking what life gives,
Instead of dying before I ever live.
So I’ll encourage inspiration, and I’ll soak it up like a sponge.
Instead of terminal safety, I’m ready to take the plunge.”
- from the song, “Take the Plunge” by Tupelo Kenyon
Playing at Work
After awhile, the line between work and play dissolves. When Janey and I sing together, it’s easy. Co-creative. Fun! When I’m writing a new song (or a new article), it feels good. I get in the zone and time flies by. When we are in the recording studio and everything is flowing, we feel exhilarated and fulfilled to be able to capture something as fleeting and nebulous as a song.
First there is a feeling, then a blank sheet of paper, then various sounds, and eventually there is a finished song on a CD. In its final form, it can last for a very long time and anyone in the world can hear it anytime. . . but not long ago, it was little more than a subtle musing. Very easily, it could have never been born at all. What an amazing process of creation! When it all comes together, it’s thrilling — the line between work and play has dissolved.
“When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our hearts, the circle of Creation is completed inside us, the doors of our souls fly open and love steps forth to heal everything in sight.” – Michael Bridge
Life is an Art
When Janey is doing her stained glass artwork or writing a book, it just feels right. She also gets in the zone, and the whole world fades away except for the work (play) at hand. These are the things we would be doing anyway — even AFTER we win the lottery!
“There are two kinds of talents, man-made talent and God-given talent. With man-made talent you have to work very hard. With God-given talent, you just touch it up once in a while.” – Pearl Bailey (1918-90)
These are some of our passions that we love “touching up once in awhile.” It feels like these are some of our purposes in life so time spent absorbed in them hardly feels like work. It’s all fun . . . it feels like we are right on target, playing at life.
“Right here, right now . . . You and me, and how,
The right place, the right time . . . Our very own personal paradigm.
‘Cause life is too important to be taken seriously,
Yeah, life is too important to be taken seriously.”
From the song, “Seriously” by Tupelo Kenyon
When you are on-purpose and absorbed in activities related to your passions, you feel inspired. The word inspired is derived from “in spirit,” and that’s how it feels. When you are in the zone, doing what you love, you are working in spirit, with spirit, and for spirit. You are a co-worker, a conduit, a hollow reed, allowing the “goings-on” of the universe to “go-on” through you with no resistance. Instead, you consciously allow it to flow.
“A reed in the river
For water to flow through,
A hallow reed.
It’s just as it has always been.
And I am only a reed, a reed in the river,
A reed in the river of life am I.”
- from the song, “Story Belt” by Tupelo Kenyon and Spirit Walker Standing
Gratitude for Living Life On-Purpose
As you grow into your personal passion-driven life, you will know you are on the right track because you will be continually awash in a sea of gratitude. You will be in awe as you notice the countless details that manifest to allow you to continue to do what you love.
A Perfect Day in the Life
About twenty-five years ago, Janey and I sat down under a tree in a forest and asked ourselves what a perfect day would look like to us. We took our time, thought it through, and wrote it all down.
I wrote about owning my own recording studio in the mountains and spending the day recording. I wrote about spending quality time with my wife and having a quiet lunch outside on the deck, by the stream. Janey wrote about enjoying fresh veggies out of her own garden. She wrote about having a nice home in the mountains and her own stained glass art studio. She visualized having time to write the books she always wanted to write and create the art clamoring for expression in her imagination.
Twenty-five years ago, these things seemed like little more than pipe-dreams but we imagined them clearly anyway and allowed ourselves to really feel what it would feel like to experience it. We visualized that perfect day and felt grateful for it.
Today we lived that day!
We woke up this morning in our home in the mountains. We had a leisurely lunch on the deck we built overlooking North Piney Creek, grateful for the fresh, healthy, organic vegetables Janey picked from our garden. She “worked” on her writing for awhile and then went out to her stained glass art studio that we designed and built with our own hands. She spent the afternoon and evening happily creating yet another phenomenal feat of glass.
“He who works with his hands is a laborer,
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman,
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
- St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1182-1226)
After lunch, I walked the 100 steps from the deck to the recording studio (also personally designed and built with our own hands) and enjoyed recording a few tracks for our next CD. All in all, another perfect day!
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood…. Make big plans… aim high in hope and work.” – Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912)
What Kind of Life Do You Want to Live . . . Specifically!
Our perfect days are happening now because we took the time to define clearly what we really wanted. We wrote it down and felt it in our imaginations. It didn’t manifest all at once, but that’s okay because we enjoyed the journey. We just kept our eye on the prize and floated downstream.
Our attention to our specific, clearly defined visualizations set the wheels in motion, bringing it all closer, day by day, until our day to day reality matches and exceeds our original picture of a perfect day.
That’s why it’s so important to find your own answers to some of life’s most important questions:
1. What do I do to make a life, and not just a living?
2. How do I continually recreate my best possible life?
3. How do I manifest the life I was born to live?
4. Is there a particular profession, business or service I was born to fulfill?
5. What do I love? (That’s important . . . worth repeating.) What do I love?
6. If I won the lottery, how would I spend my days?
7. When money is no object, what will I choose to do with my moments that will bring me joy?
8. Am I doing those things now?
9. Why not?
10. When have I felt happiest?
11. When was I most joyful?
12. When did I feel most fulfilled?
13. What was I doing then that caused those feelings?
14. Are other people making their living (and their lives) doing what I love?
15. How can I learn the techniques and procedures that make it possible for them?
16. Am I floating with the current downstream toward the life I love . . . or caught in an eddy . . . or fighting the current, trying to paddle upstream?
17. Have I really taken the time to think it through and clearly define what I want?
18. If not, why not?
19. If so, is it time to revisit and update my picture of my perfect day . . . my perfect life?
20. Can I feel grateful for where I am right now, while visualizing and eagerly anticipating my perfect life?
21. How do I think and feel about work . . . just a job, or visible love?
While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.
Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.
It’ll Be All Right Now
It’s one thing to understand intellectually that the thoughts we think mold our experience, and another thing to live every moment as if it really is a basic law of nature.
Do What You Love
Take the Plunge
Songs by Tupelo
Your Passion as Your Compass
10 Steps to Discovering Your Life’s Purpose
The Law of Attraction
Articles by Tupelo
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