Navigating life’s work

Lifestyle By Mar 12, 2024 No Comments

Work means many things to different people. I like to define it as my practice of cultivating excellence, and as I speak to more and more people about the subject, my understanding deepens. In a recent conversation with my friend Paula, we came to a place where work seemed to be how your passion is revealed to you. However, you must do a lot of work before you can earn that privilege.

Something important to prioritise is time. We have to get creative with time. We all get the same 24 hours in the day and have to allocate them efficiently so that we can gain the most out of them. I have adopted a “Stoical” approach to this where I come at it one day at a time. In Ryan Holiday’s book The Daily Stoic, he emphasises planning the day and coming up with a strategy for it. I have not done this, however over time, I have developed a sense for this. Without a sense of “what is the important thing I could be doing right now“, it is difficult to have a goal of what you want to achieve that day.

Now, this can be freeing in the sense that you could sometimes get nothing, and sometimes you could do way more than you could have planned. I believe that we all need to do both and more. The random approach is important because it will lead you to things you could not have thought of. However, the structure is important too because when you cannot think of a brilliant idea, you are still achieving some important objectives. Learning how to do this well empowers you to get more out of your 24 hours on a daily basis. And, when you figure out how to do this, you unlock a new way of life.

This new way of life has a sense of “optimality“. You start to find that you are in the most optimal place you could be for the life events that are always coming at you, and you have a way to respond or address them. It takes work to discover that spot, and that is the spot where your passion is to be revealed to you. There’s an effortlessness quality to it in the sense that you find yourself more capable of responding and have the “know-how” with which to respond.

Another quality of this place where your passion gets revealed to you is an alignment of your internal and external states. There’s an agreement between your ego and that which you find yourself engaged in. The internal critique is transformed into a guide of sorts. What they would normally criticise you about is now presented as an opportunity for improvement and growth. You start to work more efficiently with respect to all your “inner selves”, as I like to describe hopes, ambitions and dreams. This then starts to manifest in your daily life as your reputation. This “reputation” is the character that those who engage with you experience. That’s what you will receive feedback about.

The reputation represents our authenticity, and for those who have identified their passion and aligned it with how they show up, there’s a strong need to be clear about how they are coming across. So, when feedback is shared, they take it up as work. This is an opportunity to improve their alignment because this is their “happy place“. When they are in alignment, they unlock their joy. Their best self is on display, and they freely express themselves.

We all have a particular way to express ourselves, and those who have identified their passion have more courage when going about it. This is partly because, through the expression of this passion, it gets refined and developed. There will be may aspects of it that are not clear because it has a mystical quality to it, however as you start to honor it and take the truth it has to offer seriously, you develop courage to explore the unknown. So, it’s okay to start from a place of not knowing. In a way, it’s an act of faith. You know it by participating in it.

Hobbies are a good example of passionate work. These are activities through which we express our creativity. This expression of creativity starts the feedback loop that we can use to sense where the passion is leading us and how to follow it. You may not be a Picasso, but you can unlock the Picasso in you and develop them to a certain extent. In the process of doing so, you discover what your limits are and gain enough data about these limits to make a choice of whether to continue exploring that passion or not. The one place that we can easily get trapped is indecisiveness.

The trap of indecisiveness locks us in between realities. It feels like your current reality is losing its taste, while the other realities seem a bit too spicy to try. And so we fall into analysis paralysis as we cognitively contemplate the possibilities. However, the contemplation is mere simulation and will not yield concrete results without data. The way out is to run experiments and start to eliminate irrelevant potential options. That means we have to take risks when we are in an indecisive state. We have to make a gamble and learn something. Without data, we get trapped in the unknown, and we can simulate an imaginary figment that convinces us that we are all right and that this is the best place to be. But that can sometimes be deceitful and leaves our untapped potential locked.

Watch the conversation that inspired the article on YouTube

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