The Day Brightener

Because everyone has the right to be truly free and happy

Regret and Responsibility

by Belinda Reed

Lately a difficult work situation has had me reflecting on the purpose and role of work in my life.

While I fully appreciate that any work situation can be transformed by your attitude towards it, and that work can be a rich environment for self-learning, sometimes it just feels too completely out of whack with your beliefs about what work and life should be.  The result is that you feel like two separate people, and you begin to regret each day not spent doing the work that you are passionate about and find meaningful.  Yep, some days just end up feeling like this –

Regret border

I know, it is a bit harsh – but fair?

“I would much rather have regrets about not doing what people said, then regretting not doing what my heart led me to and wondering what life had been like if I’d just been myself”. Brittany Renee

Some days it is just so tempting to just walk out that door.  But, like many of you I am sure, I feel trapped.  I have a financial responsibility to my family.  As the major breadwinner, I am responsible for ensuring a continued level of comfort and education for them.  And so, I am quite willing to admit that I readily hand over my power to my job and to my delusion of the security that it brings.

However, thanks to conversations with my friends and mentors, I have been reminded that I also have:

  • A responsibility to myself and my family to be the best person I can be – to be well, whole and present
  • A responsibility to my children to create a family environment where they feel personally safe and secure, not just materialistically comfortable
  • A responsibility to my children to model healthy attitudes to work, and the possibility of pursuing your passions
  • A responsibility to the world to share my beliefs and skills to help make it a better place.

And so contemplating these other responsibilities, work takes on a much greater significance than just bringing in money.  In theory, it should play  a key role in living a whole, connected and authentic life, not assisting in building a fractured and confused one. In fact, in Buddhism,  “right livelihood” (as one step in the Eightfold Path) is believed to be a key step to the achievement of spiritual awakening.

So what is a right livelihood?  The teachings on right livelihood espouse the importance of doing work that:

  • is ethical
  • does not harm others
  • but most interestingly – “genuinely develops us as we develop it” Lama Surya Das.

This latter point is described beautifully by Maya Angelou when she describes a right livelihood as “something made greater by ourselves and in turn that makes us greater”.  This is the role that work plays in helping you become the best person you can be.  Do you feel that the work you are doing is making you a greater person for doing it?  This is an interesting and sometimes confronting question to pose to ourselves.

For as is shown in the sketch, there is never a need to feel trapped.  There is always an open door.  We just have to begin to take responsibility for the way we want to lives to be.  There is also no need to take a giant leap.  Sometimes I get so overwhelmed trying to answer all of the questions right now- Should I stay and change my attitude or quit?  If I quit, what next? What should I be doing? How will we live?  But we only ever need to take one step at a time.

“Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.” Maya Angelou

Thank goodness for Scott Dinsmore and his passionate belief that we can all find what excites us and build a career around it.  He has developed a great course called “Live Your Legend” that helps people identify their strengths and passions, and begin exploring how they can turn them into livelihoods.  See his great TED talk below which clearly explains the predicament that so many of us are in at work, but also which provides a clear 3-step process for resolving it.  His website is: www.liveyourlegend.net.  I have started the Live Your Legend course, and look forward the exciting explorations ahead.

Here’s to all of us finding the work we love  – for we all have the right to be the best person we can be, and to be truly free and happy!

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One comment on “Regret and Responsibility

  1. Pingback: Headed for the Open Door! | The Day Brightener

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