Where’s the Gap? No, not the retail-clothing store, but the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in your life. Is your gap in the area of your career? The quality of your relationships? Your health and well-being? The balance between work and family? Maybe yours is the Grand Canyon of gaps: the sense of yearning, the feeling that there should be more meaning and purpose to life than what you are currently experiencing.
The idea of life purpose is gaining in significance for so many people. I see this in my own work as a coach and also in the growing number of books and articles written on the subject. We all seem to need to feel that our lives have meaning and that our work is an expression of this. So why are so many people dissatisfied and disillusioned in their lives and careers?
Here’s a major reason for this dilemma: we get out of high school and have only barely learned to drive and now we are expected to choose a major, i.e., decide what it is we want to do with our lives. If you think back to this time of your life, you can see how preposterous it is to expect to have the answer to such a momentous question at such a young age.
Granted, there are the fortunate few who have always known what they wanted to do with their lives. But most of us simply choose a major, graduate, and take a job that either relates to that choice or doesn’t. And more often than not, we stay in that job because we don’t think we have other options.
A good question to ask yourself is, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”
If the answer is, “Because I’m good at it” rather than “Because I love doing it,” that’s a good clue that you’ve fallen into the gap separating you from a life of meaning and purpose. It’s easy to confuse what you’re good at with what you love to do. The truth is you can be very good at something and really not like doing it.
You can also be good at doing something that isn’t in alignment with your core values. When this happens, you may find yourself caught in the uncomfortable gap between truth and compromise, between who you really are and what you are doing. It’s a painful place to be.
For example, if one of your core values is integrity, being asked to compromise your integrity in the course of your job can lead to dissatisfaction and even despair. On the other hand, designing a career and life that allows you to be a person of integrity will bring a significant sense of well-being.
Who you are is firmly embedded in your core values. Yet most people have never considered what their core values are, let alone articulated them or prioritized them. As a coach, this is one of the first places I start with a client. We mine for those values and we create a list that then becomes a place of reference when the big decisions have to be made.
It’s my experience that under all that stuff we have accumulated — the degrees, the job titles, the various roles we play, and yes, the material stuff — is that gift, that talent, that “thing” that you alone can do, that has heart and meaning for you, and that is in alignment with your core values.
Once you have decided that you’ve had enough of whatever it is you’re doing or the life you are living, then you can start the work of uncovering who you really are and what you truly love. This is not necessarily an easy process. It can take work, courage and a firm commitment to find and live your authentic life. And it takes a lot of support.
Coaches are uniquely qualified to help in this process of self-discovery. We are firmly in your corner. We believe in you and your vision and we tell the truth. We see where you’re tricking yourself and call you on it. We see where your stumbling blocks are and help you to overcome them. And we hold your vision for you when it is tough for you to still see it.
The great poet Rumi said, “Feel yourself being quietly drawn by the deeper pull of what you truly love.” What’s calling you? What’s pulling you out of the gap and into a fulfilling life? The pursuit of your true passion is worth all the effort and courage you can muster to realize it. So “roll up you sleeves, not your dreams!”