Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

A relative of mine, now 50, has always struggled careerwise. He occasionally emails me a question. Yesterday, he asked me if spirituality and personal reflection are important parts of my worklife. Perhaps you might find my response valuable.

Thanks for asking, dear Jon (name changed to protect anonymity,).
I have a personal definition of spirituality. It doesn't involve God but it definitely means my primary motive to work is not money but to contribute. I believe that even if I were dirt poor, my philosophy would be that my life has meaning mainly to the extent that I use my genetically and environmentally endowed gifts to make a positive impact, even if it's small. Because I'm not a saint, I do that in ways I find easy and pleasurable, including, yes, answering your questions.
I think self-examination beyond the minimum needed to identify one's broadest strengths, weaknesses, and preferences is overrated. So is the search for unique talents. Sure, all of us can define our work essence as one or two of these: word person, people person, hands-on person, artistic person, entrepreneurial person, and/or office-detail/data-centric person. But trying to parse yourself more granularly than that is usually a futile attempt to find precision where none exists or where that precision has too little practical value. Wiser to take action, to work.

Indeed, what's important is to do more than to think. Even if what you're doing isn't perfect, as long as it's helpful in some way to your sphere of influence. Even if it's as a janitor who makes people's workspaces feel better (and you don't find it odious) do it. That often results in increased self-satisfaction, it may help you realize what your next work step should be, and you may meet people who can help you accomplish it. I believe that more than most, you have a good soul and that fellow good souls will resonate with you and help you find your next productive step...and maybe even find love.
As I said before, at Thanksgiving I especially look forward to seeing you. I hope you'll be there.


Dr. Nemko's nine books are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at mnemko@comcast.net.

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