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(Re)Kindling Your Passion For Your Work And Your Life

Dear Jane,

I wake up every morning wondering how I got to where I am today: bored, dreading my responsibilities, and numb. How did this happen and what do I do about it?

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Most of us have woken up occasionally to a feeling of dread or anxiety, wishing we were facing a different day ahead of us. But if this is how you feel most mornings, wishing you had a different life, you are suffering from burnout. Burnout is the result of enduring for too long and is debilitating to your spirit. The good news is that it’s curable.

When you are in burnout, you may feel a whole host of symptoms, including:

• Depression

• Restlessness

• Anxiety

• Addiction

• Hopelessness

• Chronic illness or pain

• Lack of motivation

• Stuck in a rut

• Fantasizing having a different life or even being a different person

Then there are the additional, perhaps surprising, symptoms of burnout that deserve your attention:

• Cynicism – When you feel jaded about your work, your clients, your colleagues, or your contributions to others, you are experiencing one of the most serious symptoms of burnout. When we are excited about our lives, we don’t tend to feel cynical.

• Boredom – Having little interest in your work or your life can lead to running out of motivation entirely. You can delude yourself into thinking that you are bored because of the outside world. But prolonged boredom is a smokescreen to avoid facing the risks we need to take to feel more fulfilled.

• Confusion – Not being able to make up your mind can happen when you don’t give yourself the highest options to choose from. We must aim for what our spirit really aspires to in order to get clarity.

• Jealousy –Jealousy is what you feel when you think you can’t have or don’t deserve what someone else has. It’s a clue that you have a limiting belief that is keeping you in a rut. To overcome jealousy, we need to commit to ourselves to create a life that is remarkable on our own terms.

• Low Self-Esteem – If someone else thinks you’re great but you can’t feel it about yourself or you can’t take in compliments, it may be because you’re not doing what you really need to in order to thrive. Sometimes we have to practice thriving behaviors even before we believe we deserve to.

• Defensiveness – You will react most strongly to criticisms that mirror your own self-judgments. When you judge yourself, you automatically put yourself in a prison of endurance. Take note of the criticisms you pile on yourself every day. They probably sound something like, “I’m too fat/stupid/afraid/old to succeed/be happy/find a partner/make enough money.” There is an ancient Buddhist saying, “No enemy can harm us as much as our own thoughts.” Rather than defend ourselves, we can focus on self-encouragement rather than self-judgment.

• Impatience – When you are short with others, it is a clue that you’re unhappy with your life in some way. Maybe you think people talk too slowly, or you get road rage, or you jump on your partner or kids for slight infractions. It’s time to ask yourself if what you are really feeling impatient about is some aspect of your life. Are you tired of waiting for something better to happen? Impatience can work for us when we heed its message, which is to evaluate our circumstances and make new commitments to ourselves.

• Frustration – Annoyance with things that aren’t within your control is a symptom of deeper dissatisfactions. If so, quick fixes won’t work. Instead, address the root cause of your burnout, which is that your spirit is not being nurtured enough. Sometimes, when we are afraid of making changes, we will try to focus on the small stuff. But isn’t it better to act on our dreams and aspirations?

So once you recognize your symptoms of burnout, how do you “go for it”? Answer these questions honestly and follow the suggestions that you are drawn to:

Question: If you felt passion for your life or your work at one time but don’t feel it now, what has changed? What did you love about your work/life at one time? Suggestion: Perhaps you’ve changed and evolved. Perhaps what was true for you five or ten years ago is no longer current. Stop blaming yourself for any discontent. Instead, be respectful and check in with what your spirit longs for now.

Question: If you’ve never felt passion for your life or your work, why not?

Suggestion: Maybe you chose a profession or lifestyle based on others’ expectations instead of your own. Or maybe the work or life you chose was based on unrealistic fantasies. Prioritize your criteria for a satisfying life. What do you imagine would make you happy? Try out scenarios and see if they work for you. For example, if you like the outdoors, volunteer as a trail guide for a short stint. If you are artistic, become an apprentice to a graphics designer or take an art class.

Question: Do you feel at home in your environment or are you like a fish out of water?

Suggestion: Take a personality style assessment to find out if you are a Director, Promoter, Analyzer, or Supporter. A good life coach can help you interpret the results. Each style has its needs, wants, and most conducive environments for thriving. You deserve to have a life aligned with your style instead of fighting it.

Question: What self-judgments are keeping you from creating a more extraordinary life?

Suggestion: Respond to your self-judgment with an affirmation that you are willing to believe but do not yet hold as true. An affirmation can start with, “Although I have believed I’m too old to find a partner, I am now willing to create a loving relationship.” Affirmations are commitments to yourself that counter negative beliefs.

Question: What limiting beliefs are stopping you from living a richer life?

Suggestion: Limiting beliefs are often taught to us as children. We assume, from our child’s perspective, that they are true, so they often go untested. Examples of common limiting beliefs: “You can’t trust people. You can’t have what you want. No one is really happy. Your happiness doesn’t matter.” Think about what you have believed about the world that is self-defeating. Be willing to question your own authority or the authority of those who taught you these “facts.”

Question: Do you worry about what will happen to your significant relationships if you stop enduring and start manifesting your dreams?

Suggestion: There are consequences to making changes in your life. But if you hold yourself back out of fear, you may get what you are avoiding anyway. For example, if you fear that someone in your life will reject you if you make changes, aren’t you going to isolate more anyway if you become more miserable and fear driven? Our fears are based on the past and the future, not on the present. If you stay focused on what your spirit is telling you in the present, the company you will be keeping will be the company you want to keep. Why? Because you will have become the company you want to keep!

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In a similar vein

I'm currently working on a book entitled "The Spirit of the Craftsman." I address a lot of the same things you do in this piece. Here's a little excerpt. I appreciate your feedback ~

Blessings!

Eric

INTRODUCTION
Why you hate your job

Larry Plodmeister stands catatonically before the “one-armed bandit” drill press, just as he has every morning for the past twenty-seven years. Like every other machine tool at Dullco Enterprises, Larry’s drill press is painted an abysmal olive drab, barely visible through a decades-old layer of oil and metal shavings.
To Larry’s left is a greasy, swaybacked wooden bench, laden with several dozen rectangular iron plates. To his right is another identical workbench, piled high with rectangular iron plates with holes in them.
It is Larry’s purpose in life to drill holes.
When he started drilling holes twenty-seven years ago, it seemed like a good job; at least it didn’t involve flipping dead meat with a spatula. And by many standards, it still is a good job. He has a medical plan, a retirement plan, a few days of paid vacation every year, and, most importantly, the yearly Dullco company picnic, where he gets to spend quality time with other loyal Dullco hole-drillers and their lovely families.
Larry Plodmeister can’t stand to drill another hole.

*********

Frank Freeman has often been accused of being a bum. He prefers the term “self-employed.” The truth probably lies somewhere in between. He has long since lost track of how many jobs he’s had. In his favor, he can honestly say he’s never been fired from a single job, as he had always found an excuse to quit, usually just on the verge of being promoted.
Twenty-seven years ago, Frank had an idea for an invention. He was fresh out of high school, and had very few resources for developing his creation. There were few people with whom he felt comfortable sharing his brainchild, and even those were highly skeptical.
His idea has never died, although it has fallen into a comatose state several times over the years. For nearly three decades, he has tried in vain to coerce anyone of consequence to seriously consider his idea. He is on his own.
Among other obstacles, Frank’s invention will require a significant amount of precision machining, a skill he is sorely lacking. He doesn’t have anywhere near the funds to pay for a precision machine shop to build his prototype, especially since there is no guarantee the thing will even work.
Frank realizes that if his invention isn’t going to die in obscurity along with years of yearning, he’ll have to teach himself the art of precision machining. He immerses himself in every scrap of literature he can find on the subject, and comes to the conclusion that he will have to build his own machine shop, if his lifelong dream is to ever come to pass. He knows that can be an expensive proposition, but he has to start somewhere. He finds himself at the local salvage yard, perusing surplus machine shop equipment. Among other things, he finds an oil-soaked, olive drab one-armed bandit drill press that had once been the property of Dullco Enterprises. He asks the proprietor what he wants for the drill press.
“I’m in a good mood today,” the man says. “You take that thing out of my way, and it’s yours.”
Frank sees this as a sign. He thanks the man profusely, loads the drill press on the bed of his battered pickup truck and drives it home to his garage. He spends a week degreasing, lubricating, and aligning the old relic. He paints over the olive drab with glistening candy-apple red enamel. He buys himself a new set of drill bits, stands at attention before the drill press, offers it a snappy salute, and starts practicing some rudimentary machining on some pieces of scrap iron. Hope tingles through his veins like carbonated blood as he realizes his lifelong dream is about to come to pass.
Frank Freeman can’t wait to drill another hole.

***********

On the surface, it seems that Larry Plodmeister and Frank Freeman are performing precisely the same task: drilling holes. And yet, we plainly see that Larry Plodmeister is slowly dying, while Frank Freeman is finally coming to life. What is the difference?
As we will discover in the following chapters, Mr. Freeman is endowed with the Spirit of the Craftsman, while Mr. Plodmeister toils under the Spirit of the Age. It is the difference between life and death.

 

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Endurance vs. Thriving

Eric,

I think your parable illustrates the difference between endurance and thriving beautifully. Thank you for sharing it.