I have just got to say, this year is just flying by! If you’re anything like me, those of you with school aged kids are probably counting down the number of days until summer break. Not part of my world anymore but I certainly remember.
This week, we’re going to discuss something that I had trouble understanding for a long time. It’s a concept that hadn’t wound its way into my life until I was living in Alberta, probably about eight years ago. If you had a moment like mine when you can clearly remember this concept entering your reality, I’d love to hear about it!
Your ingredient this week is: Fulfillment
In a recent article, I shared that I became a mother when I was barely 17 years old. I think it’s rather easy to understand that massive changes happened to a young life and it was necessary to grow up very quickly. What may not be as apparent is that some of those girls, if not a lot of those girls, step into a space of living “What is required” and everything that is not absolutely essential is simply not considered. In my world, I moved into my first apartment when my son was 3 months old and did my best to create a home for this tiny creature. My life became about his needs and what was necessary to provide for him and it stayed that way for a very long time.
So when I found myself having a conversation over a cigarette break with a man I worked with on a bitterly cold winter day in Edmonton, I wasn’t really sure what to do with a comment he made. We were discussing a situation that was causing a great deal of frustration and he said something like “How are you supposed to have any satisfaction with a job well done?” Funny right? We can remember with such clarity the moments when someone said something or something happened that caused us to think in ways we never have before. Or maybe that’s just me. LOL
Here’s the thing, and I don’t think I’m alone in this at all. Until that moment, work hadn’t had anything to do with satisfaction. Work had been about paying my bills, providing for my family, showing up and doing what needed to be done to collect a cheque. Have you ever occupied that space? But here’s the thing that I guess I find most perplexing. I hadn’t realized that we were even supposed to aspire to finding satisfaction and even enjoyment in our work. Now, it seems a bit silly that I wouldn’t have ever considered that possibility, but then… not so much.
Have you ever heard this saying? “It’s never obvious until it’s obvious, but once it’s obvious, it’s incredibly obvious!” LOTS of truth in that!
My education had been from a career college that I walked into one day because of the promise of finding a decent paying job in only six months. I didn’t go because I decided that I wanted to become a secretary or because I thought I could be the best damn secretary walking, I went because it was the fastest way to get to the end goal of a good job to support my son. I wound up in an 18 month program, and thank God for that because if I had taken the six month secretarial program, I wouldn’t have had the skills to think I could start a business and I shudder to think what may have happened. Oh, and yes, the business was another decision made out of necessity. Started when I could no longer balance a full time job (remember that was the reason to enroll in the school in the first place?) with the needs of my family but needed to earn a living.
Do I regret any of this? Absolutely not! First, I believe regret is a complete waste of time and energy. Second, if you have any happiness in where you end up, how can you regret the journey that led you there?
So back to my shocking revelation that work could and maybe even should offer more than just a paycheque. Having lived for nearly 20 years under the misunderstanding that all I should expect in exchange for my time and effort was a paycheque with which I could pay my bills, I started to understand that I had been living by default and hadn’t really been choosing anything. Education, career path, business. All decisions made on what was best for others or what was necessary at the time. Now I began to see that there were SO many more possibilities that I had never even considered!
And that’s when things in my world started to shift. In order to have any sort of satisfaction and fulfillment in one’s life, I believe it needs to be about choosing. That does not mean we don’t do things based on the needs of others, it simply means that we recognize what we are doing and why before we do it.
I used to be a hockey mom. One of my favourite things became about sitting in a cold arena early on Saturday morning with a crappy cup of coffee and screaming at the top of my lungs to cheer on my son and his teammates. Now, I’m not exactly a morning person, and crappy coffee doesn’t make me very happy. What gave me joy was watching my son learn and grow and do something he enjoyed. It took time and effort and often created at least a little bit of chaos, but it was worth it. If you’re going to do something for someone else, know what it takes and choose it anyway. That’s the trick to not feeling like you’re at the mercy of your circumstances. Otherwise, you might wake up one day and find that you’ve been living on autopilot for decades and didn’t even realize it.
Fulfillment requires that we make choices and be conscious of what we are doing. Sometimes we do work we hate because it’s a necessary step to move on to the next thing. Sometimes we study subjects that bore us to tears that we must in order to achieve a degree or certification. The fulfillment comes as the satisfaction for a job well done. Or not. You can stay on autopilot and living at the mercy of your life and your circumstances if that’s what you desire. Some people really seem to like to play the victim role… but not you, right? Me neither, at least not anymore… LOL
What do you choose?