Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
— Henry David Thoreau
I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked, and my new understanding is that she used known processes about bacteria cultures to make dairy products like cheese. Since that was the only thing I knew about the subject, I found it to be pretty interesting.
That said, she elaborated on her reasons for moving away from a “good career” in pursuit of more education. Basically, she was bored. Using known scientific procedures was mundane and repetitive, so there was no “oomph” in her job. She is more interested in the research aspect of microbiology, where you’re spending your days trying to discover new scientific processes through trial and error.
I was delighted that she brought this up, because although I knew nothing about her career field, I could relate to the concept of feeling unsatisfied with your work. I’ve known many people who are working jobs they hate in order to get by, who want to “move up” but don’t because they’re stuck.
These people are stuck in careers where they quietly despise their lives. They are trapped in a negative cycle where they hate their jobs, hate their boss, and hate the fact that they must continue working every day doing something they hate in order to afford to keep doing it — and that’s just backwards. Why fuel a lifestyle that you’re not happy with?
It’s really refreshing to connect with someone who “gets it.” Even after six years in the job, she decided enough was enough and that she was ready to move on to something else. I respect people who are up front about their situation, and recognize how they’re in a position to change it if it’s causing them to be unhappy.
This conversation got me thinking. When she mentioned a fancy-worded career (“microbiology”), my brain immediately went in a weird direction, assuming she must be some kind of genius. Really, I was just completely unaware what it meant and consequently felt a bit intimidated by it.
Instead of nodding and simply assuming she must be smarter than me, I asked about it. “I don’t know what that is.” Admitting ignorance wasn’t embarrassing, and she seemed to appreciate my curiosity.
In the end, she wasn’t some new-age brilliant scientific genius — she simply had a different education with different experiences, and that’s to be expected.
The thing is, we all have some type of “Genius” inside of us. All of us are experts at something that we’ve done forever, have an overwhelming interest in, or have an undying passion for. Being a Genius is not necessarily having a “natural talent,” but having a genuine interest.
I used to think there were three categories:
- What you are naturally good at,
- What you are interested in, and
- What you don’t necessarily like but do because you have to.
I’ve learned that 1 & 2 are actually intertwined, because you tend to explore things you’re interested in despite your skill level. You become a Genius at it as you get better and better, simply because you’re interested in it. Similarly, if you discover something you’re naturally good at, you’re more likely to be interested in it, and so those first two categories feed off of one another exponentially.
In all truthfulness, there are really only two categories: What you’re interested in, and everything else. Many of us find ourselves trapped working in the “everything else” category.
The trick is, if you can find a way to pursue your true interests in your work, then you can eliminate option 3 as well. You’re no longer biding your time, shuffling through a boring job, putting off what you actually want to do until later — you’re doing what you want to, and putting your Genius to work.
How do you pull this off? You have to know your Genius and do what you are. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be a cook, cook. If you want to start a business, start. If you want to move to Europe, move. If you want to be a teacher, teach. If you want to do anything, do it.
Of course, the majority of us can’t just stop at once and go off to seek our fortune in our new lives where we’re living out our wildest dreams. We have people that are counting on us to keep our feet on the ground. We have obstacles, debt, or other obligations that must be conquered first.
That’s okay. Having a purpose doesn’t always mean you have to dedicate every waking hour for the rest of your life to that purpose. The important thing is to HAVE A PURPOSE.
Identify why you wake up in the morning. Know yourself, and accept who you choose to be. Be willing to make sacrifices to push yourself closer to the life that you want. Be confident that if you put in the time, you will eventually get there.
And finally, don’t just hope that you’ll be successful at finding and embracing your passion. Remember that you can spend your entire life working doing something you hate if you don’t do anything about it. Don’t be afraid. Actively pursue your ambitions, identify your Genius, and put it to work for you.
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