Life Decisions: In pursuit of wealth or dreams
I was in the process of putting away some of the many books that I have read during the last few years when I noticed a theme – they were all books on the law of attraction and spirituality. Books ranging from Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” to Carolyn Myss’s “Sacred Contracts”. Books that emphasize respect for humanity and the individual’s capacity to live a fulfilling life simply by focusing on the present moment! According to these authors, all we need to do is to find out what we are good at and then concentrate on fulfilling that dream. As Gary Zukav puts it, a happy life is about aligning our personality to the needs of our soul! Easier said than done? Right? Definitely difficult for some of us!
The knowledge from these books does not necessarily translate into reality for most people. Our beliefs and social expectations generally comes ups with so many reasons and excuses why we can’t just relax in the present moment and BE and more often than not lead us to making the wrong choices with regard to our dreams and hopes!
There often is conflict between choosing a career for the expected high income and pursuing our dreams and life purpose. Life purpose here refers to pursuing a career that serves others and is also fulfilling to the individual. Spiritual and self-help books on being and living your best life to your full potential all indicate that the best way to live a happy and prosperous life is to do what we love doing; follow the career that we love most and the money will follow. So if it is that simple, why do so many of us side-track into jobs and careers that we can just barely tolerate?
Our “gurus” also tell us that our thoughts (the thoughts that lead us to these decisions) not only create our reality but that there is a God, a higher being that oversees our existence. A being that would guide us expertly if we would only surrender to it! Yes, all you need to do is surrender to an invisible being and all will be fine! Really? Yes, really! I know from my own life experience that when I give up the need to control events; the need to be in control and the need to predict outcomes and simply go with the flow, live in the present moment, life becomes easier, lighter and more enjoyable. Ever heard the saying “don’t take yourself too seriously?” That’s exactly what it is! Our gurus suggest that we surrender to the higher being within us or at least believe that there is a higher being taking care of us and give him/her/it the chance to be in control knowing that “All is Well”!
But the pursuit of money/wealth pushes us to make the wrong choices. They say do what you love and the money will follow. However, oftentimes, there is those unfounded thoughts that tell us that if only we could do something else for a higher pay we would eventually concentrate on what we love doing. The excuse here is usually that we need money to follow our dreams. It starts with needing money to survive – i.e. pay for the day-to-day expenses of life, food, shelter and clothing. Following this trend of thought we end up feeling trapped doing what we don’t really enjoy doing just for the money and before we know it, it becomes we are trapped in our chase for wealth. We eventually come up with the excuse that we are making just enough money to take care of our basic needs and there is no extra to follow-up on the business or career that we would love doing! Besides it is so comfortable to stay where we are we wouldn't dare venture out into the unknown!
This is exactly when we fall into the trap of thinking that we are in control of things and can decide when and how we make the money we need. Wrong! It is in giving that we receive and a giving, fulfilling career might just be the best way to have and keep the best of two worlds – a career and lasting wealth.
My friend Jazz loves helping others. She loves making others feel optimistic about life and seeing the smile on people’s faces when they feel someone truly cares for them. It is in her personality to be caring and empathetic. However, she has always dreamt about finding and pursuing a paid career that allows her to be and express these emotions. Yet, she always uses the excuse that she needs money in order to make it into a business and a career. As true as that might be, I hate to think that she might just spend the rest of her life trying to make enough money to live well before she moves into the business of living her dream.
A fulfilling job needs to be one that aligns with and highlights your personality. The job on its own will not bring you lasting happiness if it doesn’t allow you to be yourself; to express yourself in ways that allow your personality to shine.
Spiritual teachers, have taught us that sacrifice is usually the only way to get to doing what we love doing especially if our career option entails giving to others. We need to give up something in order to get what we want. We need to give up control – control emanating from our beliefs about ourselves and others – and concentrate on the here and now to find the answers that will lead us forward to fulfilling our dreams. There is always somewhere where we can start. Waiting for the right opportunity might mean waiting forever and regretting that we never tried.
Our spiritual leaders emphasize the importance of surrendering to our God, higher self, higher being or our higher consciousness, our morality, the capability of deciphering what is right and what is wrong. This is our guide to making the right decisions that will keep us on the path of our dream. Yet, so many of us often feel side tracked by the trappings of this earthly life, the desire to be loved and accepted and the fear that if we are not like everyone else, we won’t find happiness! What a shame!
Jazz and I often discuss what it is that is stopping her from embarking on the route to fulfilling her dream of serving others, her purpose in life and she is never short of reasons and excuses. Mind you the reasons and/or excuses are mostly the same.
Firstly, there is the social pressure of following a career that is seen as high up in the social status. Her cultural background particularly emphasizes being qualified, having and keeping a white collar job, owning or at least living a in big house in a posh residential area. I think many societies think similarly, hence the question “where do you live” when you meet a new acquaintance.
Secondly, linked to the social pressure there is the shame of being seen as a looser if she appears not to have a high status job and live in a high class residential area. And so she struggles either to hide the fact that she has not achieved much and is not doing as well as the others. The desire to please and belong! All this with the intention that when she finally has the money to live well then she can embark on her real purpose in life! She will still have her "rich" friends and a fulfilling career as a bonus. Problem is, the relationships were formed on a basis of a lie which begs the question as to whether or not these are real friends?
As implied in Jazz’s reasons above her dream career and purpose in life is not regarded in society as a high status job. Not necessarily though. She sees herself as a teacher that can motivate others into being the best that they can be. She feels stuck as to the ways and means of doing this on a big scale. That is, in a way that she can earn lots of cash and still feel fulfilled! But does she have to do it on a big scale to achieve the expected outcome? Yes and No! Yes, if she is focusing only on the money aspect! No if she focuses on the joy and love she gets from doing it.
Even though Jazz is not getting any apparent monetary gain at the moment from being caring, the outcome here is massive, bigger than Jazz can see! Motivate one person at a time and allow the ripple effect to take effect! What Jazz does not realize is the unseen positive effect her kindness and positivity is having, not only on the one person that she motivates but on all the other string of people that are touched by those who later come into contact with the person she motivated and so on!
But there is still the dilemma of making a living out of being kind and caring! For me the answer is start small at the level where you are. Ever heard of authentic business? Treat others fairly and never try to extort your customers out of their hard earned cash by using deception and foul methods. Honest, authentic business that is built on honest business principles and goals will attract a wider clienteles and subsequent wealth than expected. Unfortunately, most of us are not so patient to allow ourselves to start small and grow gradually to our expected heights! At least Jazz isn’t! She’s still looking for a quick fix and that is blinding her from realizing that her quick fix is taking even longer to bring her to her dream career than her apparent unrewarded acts of kindness!