Knowledge is the best gift people can give themselves, and something no-one can take away. Due to this deep-seated belief, I dedicated over a decade to helping people while working in higher education.
I believed a career as an educator meant being of service and supporting students to allow growth and empowerment. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others in something that’s critical to the future of the country; and on top of that I could have the summers off! But why did I feel so unfulfilled?
The reality was what was actually happening and my vision of contributing to making the world better were not in alignment. It felt like I wasn’t making an impact anymore.
Many of us get to that point in our life where we question whether our work is what we should be doing. When faced with this struggle, should we stay where we are? Or should we make that jump to pursue the deeper calling from our souls? And how do we decide?
Choosing Authenticity Over Acceptance
When we are deep into the work we do, there’s a chance of getting caught up in a bubble and disillusion setting in. This is why we need to regularly take time to evaluate and see if what we’re doing is still aligned with our vision and values. We have to honestly assess this alignment to make sure we haven’t accepted falling into a routine, gotten complacent or become too comfortable.
At an educators’ leadership program I was asked where I saw myself in five years. I wrote how my current work was supporting a one-size-fits-all learning environment, which in turn made students small. Much of the work was spent in rescue, constantly putting out fires of other people’s administrative and teaching standard messes, instead of adding value to students’ growth.
I was deep in hierarchy and bureaucracy. This realization was sorrowful and made me deeply question my faith in my work.
It was clear the alignment was off and I was no longer on an authentic path. Panic and shame came creeping in. I was in an identity crisis and my ego was sabotaging itself.
I worried that I’d let my parents, supervisor and colleagues down. But, was accepting where I was for others worth letting myself down in being someone or something I’m not?
Many sleepless nights and an internal tug of war followed. Thoughts came in and out about what to do with this life and how to do it. And I constantly struggled between keeping my security, status and money or staying true to my vision.
What I knew to be true is that I am an educator at heart, and that fulfilling work and serving others cannot be compromised. I came to accept that it’s essential to live and share my life in a way that’s authentic, even if that means shaking up my world.
The direction was clear – to choose authenticity over acceptance. I gathered the courage and quit my job at the college to pursue my passion. The hard part was not knowing what life would look like in the future; if it would be a failure or a success and whether I was giving it all up for nothing.
Devotion To The Passion
The harder part of this big decision is moving forward with change or a refocused commitment. It is this whole process of moving and transitioning, uprooting, getting back to and refocusing on oneself, that comes with big decisions. And what a wild and exciting ride getting in touch with the soul of one’s passion is.
I went from teaching college students to educating yoga students. In partnership with my fiancé, we do soulful work while living on a tropical island with our pack of fostered pups.
Everything I do is to help people connect with each other and the earth through the joy of learning acroyoga. This is my ‘why’ and what inspires my actions in the world. Having this clear ‘why’ gives a greater sense of purpose, motivation, and clarity to make a passion have more depth and be able to endure for years on end.
It’s deeply fulfilling because it opens the door for greater vision, collaboration, and contribution. It allows connection to the heart of what truly matters and contributes to a better world for all beings.
This passion-driven work has its own challenges – there is no stable income, health benefits or paid vacation. There is no playing small, which reveals a multitude of issues with self and others. It is such a painful yet beautiful lesson in learning to trust your work and yourself.
Even though the work is passionate and fulfilling, there are times when something comes up that makes me think, “Should I still be doing this?” When that happens, it’s always wise to pause and check. I am still discerning all the time, but have gotten a little bit better at these “checking points”.
This journey has taught me that if you are truly passionate about something, pay attention. The crisis of questioning and leaving behind a job to more meaningful work is what has led many to a more fulfilling and meaningful life. If you sense your passion stirring, take that step towards your authentic self and give it a chance!
An Exercise To Help Choose A Path of Meaning
If you’re at a crossroads of whether or not to leave an unfulfilling career to live a passion project, try this process I use for discerning:
- Get a journal and pen. Go sit somewhere where you can focus and set aside 30 minutes.
- Write exactly the path you are on now in life. Explore what is worth celebrating. Unwind any fears, worries or attachments.
- Take a few minutes to reflect on where you are now. Notice any details or reactions that come up. I find it useful to put it all out there to dissect what comes up later.
- Write what your vision is three years from now for your life and work. What does it look and feel like? What is your deepest longing? Really get super clear what your ideal is.
- Explore where there is alignment and where there is not in your life now in relation to your vision. Trust what comes up. It can be very helpful in deciding whether to follow a passion or stay with what is and integrate the parts that are missing from your current work.
I’d love to hear from you! What work is calling to you now?
Kendra Charts is co-founder of AcroCouple. She is on a mission to help you connect deeper with yourself, in relationships, and with the earth. Get free access to a powerful tool for connection, Create Connection: The Beginner AcroYogi’s Ultimate Resources here.
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