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Vocation & Simple Living: Pushing past fear, others' opinions, and stepping out with courage

This morning I woke with something on my mind. I had to return to the most recent book club book we are reading to look up words that were bubbling up inside me. We just started a book titled, “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood,” by Marsha Sinetar. Before anyone rolls their eyes, thinking this book comes from a fairytale land, let me just assure you from what I’ve read so far she is not insisting you can do anything and just with wishful thinking urge that dough to roll in. No, not in the least bit. It’s a book on self-discovery, seeing that living out our right livelihood requires a higher level of self-awareness and self-esteem to know what makes us tick and then step out in courage to make it happen, and stick to our commitment to make it happen. No wishful thinking here, folks!

I think our vocation is a necessary topic when looking at the path to simple living. Many of the books I’ve read talk about how the choice to move your life in a simple manner can impact every area of your life, including how you view work. Because work is something we spend a huge portion of our life doing, it’s necessary to take a look at how we spend that time.

So, what was it that was pressing on my mind as I woke this morning? It was a passage that speaks to my own life…and the life of some of my clients I work with. How about I show you what that passage is, and then we can talk about it? Sound like a deal? I wrote the passage down in chunks, so it almost feels like my seminary days of doing biblical exegesis, pulling passages apart line by line. I won’t be that tedious (no line by line), but I will do one chunk at a time.

Here are the quotes:

“Unfortunately, since we learn early to act on what others say, value, and expect, we often find ourselves a long way down the wrong road before realizing we did not choose our work.”

Take a moment to sit with that. I am not going back to check myself on my memory of

different psychology theories, but this makes me think of “Parts Theory.” Basically, it

means we split ourselves into different parts rather than seeing ourselves as a synchronized "whole". One thing that I often see is how people can internalize different voices from important others in their life to a point that it

actually becomes a part them. What’s this mean for us? Well, let me ask you. Did you have a critical parent? If so, is there a voice inside you that is quick to judge and condemn you? What does it mean in terms of our job? Well, it means we might have picked something our parents, aunt, uncle, teacher, coach suggested without giving it a second thought. We didn’t give it a second thought because we didn’t know how to tune into what we thought, so we took the easy road and went along with what someone else wanted for our life. Yikes. If you're finding you might have internalized a voice be easy on yourself because it's likely that happened during childhood, which in that case you didn't know any better. You did the best you could!

“It takes courage to act on what we value and to willingly accept the consequences of our choices.”

Want to know something I used to do? As hard-headed and stubborn as I am now, I was quite the opposite growing up. I have to admit that I would let anyone else make the decisions for me. Without going into how I learned to operate that way, I’d say I think a reason I could have done that is so I didn’t take the blame if something went wrong. That showed I had really low self-esteem…that I didn’t have enough self-worth to listen to what I wanted and then see the plan through. Courage is needed if we are to step into a path based on our own values. First, because it might require going against the grain. Second, because sometimes that path has roadblocks and we need to be resilient when faced with setbacks and strong enough to persevere to get what we want.

“Being able to choose means not allowing fear to inhibit or control us, even though our choices may require us to act against our fears or against the wishes of those we love and admire.”

There she did it. She brought fear into the conversation. I think it’s necessary, because I believe we often stop ourselves from stepping into a life we really want because of fear. We might play it a bit too safe. Yet, if we never put ourselves out there, we might never get what we truly want.

Then the second part of the quote, she mentioned going against the wishes of those we love and admired. We covered this, but I must say that it can be REALLY hard to go against what others in your life want, especially if you admire them. It makes us grow up. If you have always lived from a place of “they know what’s best,” that has them in a parent role. If you decide you’re ready to move into a place of “I know what’s best for me,” then that moves you into the official term I hear all the time…”adulting.” Haha! "Adulting" means you are making your own choices and living with the consequences. It means trusting yourself and stepping into what you want rather than doing something for others or what they envision for your life. Please know, becoming an adult can happen at any age. I know someone in their 80s that hasn’t become an adult in this sense. Don’t get bullied or pressure into something…see this as an invitation to do what YOU want.

One side note here. I come from a Christian background and can already hear people saying, “but aren’t we supposed to deny ourselves and do what God wants?” Here’s my theology: if you center yourself, quiet your mind, listen to your heart infused with God, I believe in your deepest sense what you want at your core is not out of line with what God wants. That could be a whole book in itself, so I’ll just stop there!

“Choosing sometimes forces us to leave secure and familiar arrangements.”

Ugh! I hate it that she’s right. I don’t like leaving security, but yet I see that it can be necessary. Security is nice. It’s like leaving a warm bed on a cold winter day. When you’re all wrapped in the blankets, who wants to leave that?! But if you want to step into the thrill of new possibilities that could be even better, you have to leave the security. This makes me think of a book I read bits and pieces from. It’s called “Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes,” by William Bridges. In that book, the author said that in order to move into our next phase of life we have to create some space from the last one, even if it’s a holding period. We need that space because we are so quick to return back to what’s familiar, even if it doesn’t feel quite right for us anymore.

So I guess that’s what we need to do. If you’re in a place of any kind of transition, join me in creating space so your heart has room to dream and step into something new. New is great, but I have to admit new can also come with emotions like being terrified, stressed, and feeling uncertain at times. I don’t think that should stop us, just know that in anything in life, it’s not all or nothing. Just because a path might be right doesn’t mean we don’t experiencing some conflicting emotions. It means we just need to move forward with mindfulness, knowing that we aren’t our emotions and one emotion never stays forever.

I will leave you with that! All right everyone, happy rooting!

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