Your Job or Your Life?

“Let yourself be silently drawn to the stronger pull of what you really are.” – Rumi

Happy Spring!

Maybe it’s because we’ve been enjoying awesome weather and folks have Spring Fever that I’ve noticed on Facebook this week, several posts from my ‘friends’ about how “it sucked” that they had to go to their jobs, or a comment about their work with the exclamation, “Yuck!” So often in my work with women, I hear the frustration they have with their jobs – a friend’s weekend plans gone awry because of an important project deadline, a relative who aspires to be a writer than be trapped by her unsatisfying corporate career, and a sister-in-law who is required by her employer to work mandatory overtime, or else…

Really? (insert ominous, impending doom-type music) Or, ELSE?

So, is this our choice as women (and men)?:  Your job or your life?

17533314_sThe fact that many people I care about are unhappy in their work makes me sad. I wonder why their jobs “suck.” Do they actually dislike the work and wish they could do something more fulfilling? Are they Moms (or Dads) with little kids who wish they could be at home to raise them? Are they treated like liabilities at work instead of the assets that good employees are? Do they truly believe there are no other options?

Yeah, yeah, I know…In this economy everyone who has ANY job should be grateful.  And, I agree, to a certain point. And, I say that certain point is when you dread facing another day that you have to walk into your workplace or when your physical and mental health is deteriorating or when “the Man” is demanding so much of you that you have no time or energy to enjoy your family, friends and leisure activities that nourish and re-create your soul.

Oh, you’re at that point now?

So, what can you do to make it better?

No, no, no; don’t walk into work and tell your boss to take this job and shove it!
Even though that might grant some immediate satisfaction, a more prudent approach is probably wiser.

My suggestion would be to start with an analysis of what’s making you unhappy in your job or career – is it the pay, the schedule, the unreasonable demands, or do you just hate the work itself? What would have to change to make you happy enough to want to stay? Ask for those changes. Don’t tell me it’s impossible. Nothing is impossible. They may not be willing to make the changes, but it’s not impossible. It might be “against our policy,” but it’s NOT impossible.

To be fair, make a list of what you like about it, too, such as the short commute, the great co-workers, the daily doughnuts. A longer list of “pros” than “cons” or simply an attitude of gratitude can offer a shift in perspective – if not forever, at least until you can forge an acceptable exit strategy.

Now, take stock of your values and priorities. Be honest with yourself! If you want to stay home to raise your kids or you KNOW you’re called to another profession, you’ll want to find a way to do that, no matter what.


Because your authentic self will stay squelched until you fully use your divinely-given gifts and talents to their highest good and until you truly live your values by “walking your talk.” And, when your authentic self is squelched, you are disappointed, unhappy and feel like you’re missing out on the important stuff of life.

So, what do you REALLY want? (STOP reading this post now and answer that question before you go on!). Seriously…

Great! You want ______________!

Oh, wait, listen…

I can hear that little hobgoblin called FEAR whispering into your ear and she’s saying that you can’t possibly have that thing you want – stay home with the kiddos, start your own business, go back to school, work for a better company.

Stop listening to her! Yes, yes, yes you can! You CAN have what you truly desire for yourself!

I can give you myriad examples of women just like you who have done just that.

• Kathy, from Austin, who just became an international flight attendant at age 49, while still maintaining her independent court reporting business.

• Kim, with age 40 looming, with a new baby and three other children, realized that she needed to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse-midwife. She finished nursing school and works in labor and delivery at a metropolitan hospital.

• Jenny, from Atlanta, who with her partner, found a way to live on one income so that Jenny could stay home and raise their son. She found what they “sacrificed” was quite small in comparison to what they and their son gained.

• Lori, at age 36 left the “security” of a good job and moved 2100 miles away to a tiny town in Montana with no job in sight because it suited her better than the big city. That was almost 16 years ago – no regrets.

I am so grateful to be able to do work that I love and I’m grateful that what I love to do helps others to live their lives more joyfully and authentically. For me, my career is integrated into my life’s purpose and my partnership with the divine – a concept called Avodah (work and worship as one).

And, yours can be, too.

So, what’s your choice?

Your Job or Your Life?

How about both?

Please leave your comments, questions and ideas below. And, remember, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot

Lisa :-)

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6 responses to “Your Job or Your Life?”

  1. Lisa, your post is inspiring, as your posts usually are. I do have to say that I feel much better about myself now that I have gotten back to doing what I was trained to do: be a therapist. Once again I feel useful and helpful. I do believe that I was meant to be a therapist. When I took time away to do other things, I felt like something was missing. Now I’m back and I am glad!

    • Isn’t that cool how that works, Michelle – the idea that we don’t realize how grateful we are for something or how “right” something is until we don’t have it anymore. I’m really happy for you that you were able to return to being a therapist and that you’re working with purpose again! That’s a great feeling! :-)

  2. Catching up on my reading tonight! That’s the one thing I would change. More “free” time during workday or home life to sit and chill, read inspiring things, thumb through my latest cooking magazines, look at art. The to-do list gets so long and demanding that I feel I can’t take a break when I should routinely. I do treat myself to lunch out on Friday’s. So taking more time to fill the cup is probably the one thing I need to change about my Work/Life. Work and Life for me run together. I have the pleasure of doing such fun work, so no complaints. Before this position, I worked at a place for 8 yrs and the last 4 I hated every minute of it; it made me ill to wake up and know I had to go into work. I walked off the job one day when I had finally had enough (long hours, no pay, mentally abusive treatment by a woman boss (she was that way to everyone not just me). So I freelanced and interviewed 15-20 places over the next year-14 months until I found THE PLACE (Kentucky Living) that I knew I wanted to be. Took guts, hurt the ole pocketbook a bit, but I’ve been happy ever since…that was 15 yrs ago! So you are right, if you’re not happy doing what you’re doing, stop, and do what you want to do!

    • Anita,
      Congratulations for that gutsy move from the old job – and with no backup plan at the time! Wow! I’m happy for you that you love your work now and it certainly shows with each issue of Kentucky Living! I love that mag and eagerly await its arrival each month… :-) And, yes, carving out that “me” time takes commitment, doesn’t it? Good for you for taking yourself out to lunch on Fridays. That’s a nice treat!
      Lisa :-)

  3. Yes, this rings true with me. I left a “bad” job at a “good” work place this past winter. It only took me one month to realize how badly my health was suffering as 90% of my symptoms disappeared when I made the decsion to focus on teacing full time (for half time pay). I have no benefits, and the pay is crap, but I am happy, almost healthy (there’s only so much I can do with these genes). I had to realize that being miserable wasn’t worth the trade off of full time pay. Yes, we’re struggling and would like to in a better financial sistuation, but if my health was still failing as it was while in that job, we wouldn’t have been any better of than we are now. I have faith that the right full time with benefits teaching job will come along becuase that’s what’s I am meant to do with my life. I just have to be patient and keep the faith.

    • Rita,
      Thanks so much for your comment. Your story is EXACTLY what I’m talking about. You decided not only that your health was more important that the full-time pay, but that you also need to be doing the work that truly nourishes your soul. And, you’re right – that perfect job will show up sooner than you think, because you’re now coming from a place of gratitude for the right work now; and have less stress, both physically and emotionally. Congratulations!
      Lisa :-)