For a long time I struggled to know what I was about.
I did my best to achieve in school, and when I finished school, I did my best to find a good job. Because that’s what I thought I had to do to be happy.
And with every job I got, I held onto the hope that this job could be THE ONE. The one job that would make me feel useful, successful, and happy. But despite taking job after job, none of them delivered on that promise.
It took me years to realize that the problem wasn’t that I hadn’t found the right job. The problem was the way I approached the question of what I was about. I didn’t understand why I was looking for that One Job. I was so focused on the outcome that I never considered the question, “Why?”
Why focusing on outcomes makes for a crappy life.
Let’s say, you decide you want to help people. And you have it in your head that the best way to do that is to start a charity. But then you start a charity and find that it’s really hard work.
You discover you don’t actually like organizing charity events. You don’t like asking people for money. And your work makes you feel disconnected and alone.
Once you discover these things, instead of thinking, “Maybe I should try something else”, you keep trying to do the charity thing because you think it’s the only way you can help people.
But the harder you work the more miserable you become. And the more miserable you are, the more you tell yourself that you’re a failure. You tell yourself you have no business helping people and that you should just give up, stay home, and eat chocolate because what’s the point right?
Sound familiar? Well it sounds familiar to me because I’ve done this like 100 times.
Macaroni Sculpture Hell
When I first got out of the monastery I was very clear on my vow. I vowed to serve others in a fundamental way by helping them access wisdom and clarity. And I was sure that this vow was calling me to teach, so took a job as a preschool teacher.
Within a few months I was miserable. I loved being around kids, but I hated doing craft projects. I found a job where I served others, but I still felt lost. I thought to myself, “I went through all this effort to figure out my life’s purpose and look where it’s gotten me. Two years at a monastery and I’m back where I started.”
But then I realized I’d made the same mistake I’d made so many times before. I was caught up in the outcome.
My life isn’t about being a preschool teacher. My life is about helping others access wisdom. Just because teaching preschool isn’t the right way, it doesn’t mean that I’m a failure.
And so I put preschool teaching aside and I started to look for new ways to fulfill my vow. And sure enough within a few weeks I started coaching my first client.
I didn’t become a coach because I set out to become a coach or because I took the perfect magazine quiz. I discovered it because I knew what I was about. I trusted that if I opened my heart and stepped forward with curiosity that something would arise to help me fulfill my purpose.
The Key To Happiness
The key to finding happiness isn’t the pursuit of goals. It’s listening to your heart and following where it leads, even if it takes you to unexpected destinations.
Even if it means letting go of the image you’ve created of yourself.
Even if it means ignoring the ‘well meaning advice’ of others.
That is why today’s challenge is all about creating awareness around what you’re about. But before we get started I want to ask you to do a few things.
- Let go of your occupation as your identity. It may be 100% aligned with what you’re about, but it may not. At your core you are not your job title or your place of employment.
- Let go of the roles you play in your family or personal life. It may be that the person you are in these relationships is in alignment with who you are, but it might not. Be open to the idea that you purpose is something largely defined by your heart not your familial situation.
- Let go of your limitations. Every day at the monastery we chanted a vow to save all sentient beings from suffering. Thats a BIG VOW! It’s possible to have a vow that is too big to accomplish in your own life or even in many lives. It doesn’t matter if your vow is big or small. What matters is that it’s your vow.
Now for the Challenge
Happiness Challenge #7 – What are you about?
1. Practice – Think about the job/life/mission you have now or the job/life/mission you dream about having, ask yourself the following questions, and write down the answers.
- Question #1: What are you about?
- Question #2: Why is it important to you?
- Question #3: What change are you trying/hoping to create in the lives of others or the world?
- Question #4: What would the world be like if it didn’t have what you are trying to create?
- Question #5: What would it be like if you helped create it in abundance?
2. Reflect – Now look at your answers and think about how you choose to live out these truths. If you had to take those answers and write a simple vow for your life, what would it be?
My life vow is to be of deep and fundamental service to others, to support others as they walk the path to freedom from suffering while embodying the energy of wisdom and compassion.
(Please remember it has taken me several years to perfect this written vow, so allow your vow to be where it’s at, even if it’s a bit awkward at first.)
3. Share – As always do one or more of the following
- Blog – Write a post where you share the answers to your questions and your life vow. Or write a post about how you found this exercise hard.
- Share- Share your life vow, the answer to one or more of the questions, something you noticed during your reflection, or something you struggled with from this challenge on social media. Remember #30dayhappy and our facebook group
- Comment – If nothing else leave a comment even if it’s just to say hello. I’d love to know how it’s going for you during this challenge.
Make sure you write something down for your life vow, even if it’s one sentence you only half life, because we are going to use it tomorrow in the challenge.
9 thoughts on “Day 7: What Are You About?”
First thing that pops in my head here is “I don’t know.” Seriously, not sure how to answer the question of what I’m about. Started to say I don’t think the world would miss me or what I do, but I know a few people who would. but question 4 isn’t asking what the world would be like without me – it’s what the world would be like without what I try to create. What would the world be like without music, creativity, silliness, or helpfulness? Pretty damn boring and really, REALLY sad.
Still need to figure out how to answer the questions, but there’s my initial thought on it.
Thats a great initial thought. So the world would be a boring place without the work you are trying to do. You’re about keeping shit interesting. Sounds like a good start.
I’m just catching up with the challenge having fallen several days behind with it. I decided to dedicate some time to catching up tonight because I had a huge realisation around doing what’s important before the urgent things that always crop up. I realised this challenge is more important to me than cleaning the bathroom (I would normally clean the bathroom/kitchen/playroom/tidy up/watch that programme I love/ etc. etc. first!).
I just wanted to say what an amazing resource this 30 day happiness challenge is and thank you Toku for the personal shares and examples that really drive the messages home. The tools and exercises you have incorporated so far will be so useful to me and I love the way that they are building upon each other and inter-weaving (like life!). I’m planning on sharing some in a very simple way with my kids.
I wonder if there are any ‘pause for thought days’ scheduled in to the challenge? A 30-day challenge is a 30-day challenge you might say, but the reflection is so useful, it would be great to have a day a week to pause, catch-up, reflect. Today’s challenge in particular (it’s a biggie!) would really benefit from a bit more time to reflect on the questions you pose.
Thanks for you comment Jacqui. Your words are so kind and I’m very glad that you’re enjoying the challenge and getting alot out of it.
Interesting idea to take a day of reflection. I am trying to make the first day of each new phase light so you can catch your breath, but I like the idea of a reflection day at the end. I’ll consider that.
As for catching up I will be publishing a phase 1 recap that combines all the challenges into one day for Phase 1 so keep an eye out for that. Thanks for commenting.
Hm… getting shit done and keeping shit interesting. I like that! LOL
I think that’s exactly what life is about, to find out what are you about? I have been trying my best to find that answer for maybe over 20 yrs now… It’s been a beautiful journey, filled with awesome and not so awesome people and circumstances that have helped shaped me. This challenge only helps me reassure there’s no right or wrong in this matter. What is important is, as Yoku said, is just to follow where your heart leads… And that’s what I’ve tried to do.
So cheers to every person that’s following their hearts!
Thanks for your comment. Im still figuring out what my life is about too. I have more clarity than before. But I’m still searching. Keep at it lorena. Awareness of your issue will also yeild results.
Oy, this is a tall order for an evening’s practice and reflection… But you’re putting a gun to my head to have something for tomorrow. I can’t stop thinking that I should be incorporating something more creative in what I do. Not exactly a vow but I’ll continue mulling it over.
It took me a long time to perfect my vow. Dont be afraid to take imperfect action. It’s not set in stone after all.
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