“What do you fear, lady?” [Aragorn] asked.
“A cage,” [Éowyn] said. “To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
When is enough, enough? At what point does the proverbial scale tip and you decide to pursue, in earnest, the work that beckons you, your mission, and listen to the voice that just won’t let you rest.
Have you heard that “voice”? Has it been whispering to you, “Pssssst…it’s time.” Or maybe, like in my case, it was screaming, “Will you FINALLY get on with your mission?!”
You see, for years—no, strike that—for decades I muzzled that voice. It would pop up from time to time and I would reason with it saying, “Yes, that dream thing sounds awesome, but what about the paycheck thing? You know…what pays the mortgage, puts food on the table, and keeps the kids in school?”
Back in my twenties, I took a wrong turn. I am typically a fan of the “I have no regrets” philosophy—that all things have a reason for happening. Maybe so. Maybe some of those reasons are to teach us a lesson. However, as I grow in wisdom, I can’t deny that some decisions I make are better than others. Let me suggest to you that despite your intentions and openness to God’s will, you can still make a poor decision.
So in my twenties, I was at a fork in my career path and I regrettably decided to stay the course and not seriously evaluate my options. I remained in a career that was not my primary area of strength and did so for over two decades, working my way deeper into the career trap or the “golden handcuff” scenario. As my skill level increased so would my pay and level of responsibility. I felt like I had constructed this cage one year at a time, bar after bar.
As my skill level increased so would my pay and level of responsibility. I felt like I had constructed this cage one year at a time, bar by bar.
Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever felt like you aren’t working where you belong? Do you feel like you aren’t using your best skills, your true talents? Have you made the decision to put your true talents on the shelf and work a job instead? Holding a job, even one you don’t really like in order to pay the bills isn’t a bad thing. However, there is an unhealthy line of reasoning when this holding down a job, which is ill-fitting, goes from months to years to decades. It eventually dehumanizes you. You begin to move further away from the bright-eyed creation of wonder that you are and develop a cynical view of life and the world of work.
You were endowed with amazing gifts. It is to the benefit of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health that you use these gifts in your every day work. Can you honestly say that you are using these gifts or has cynicism snagged you and you now believe that your gifts are only something to be used during your time outside of work?
Have you lost your sense of wonder?
You have incredible gifts. It is your duty to find out what they are and how to best use them to both provide for your needs as well as the needs of your family and mankind.
Don’t pursue a career for the wrong reasons. Job burnout is pandemic. Remain in the wrong career for too long and you risk your well-being and eventually your relationships.
How about you? Do you feel like you are in your sweet spot? Can you say with confidence that you are doing what you were created for?
If not, how will you find the work you were meant to do? This is your most important mission right now. You mustn’t delay in finding your calling. I can’t underscore this enough.
Work that holds meaning for us brings us joy and fulfillment. We get to play our role in renewing the face of the earth.
You will be working at your career for one third of your life. Isn’t it worth the time to choose wisely?
Please share with us how you found your true calling or if you are still looking.