Tag Archives: meaning

4 Actions You Can Take While You Are Working *Only* for the Money

My job is soul-sucking.

It’s not the first time I have heard this phrase from someone that is miserable in their work. Many people that are deeply unsatisfied and unhappy at their jobs describe an oppressive (and sometimes hostile) daily existence including: a lack of trust in their co-workers or management, feeling pressure to perform without support (or sometimes active sabotaging), political game playing such as others taking credit for their work, experiencing subtle or overt sexism, finding the work meaningless, boring, or in some cases morally bankrupt, etc…

Others say they feel as though they are not living up to their potential or want to be involved in work and people that matter to them. At some point during the conversation, I usually ask:

So why not quit?

And the response:

I can’t afford it.

This is smart response. Financial security and taking care of your family are meaningful reasons to stay at your soul-sucking job temporarily. If timing is your choice, I never recommend quitting your current position without a transition plan and an understanding of what’s next for you.

Sometimes though, especially for those in high-paying and/or prestigious positions, the conversation leads to staying because of the importance of maintaining a certain lifestyle.

Reminder: A few weeks of family vacation where you worry about your work often, that beautiful house where you can’t sleep without medication, or weekend’s where you feel depressed and exhausted…is not much of a lifestyle.

Whether you are at a soul-sucking job or simply want to do something bigger or more meaningful, there is a third option. Stay while you plan your escape by:

  1. Saving. Reduce or alleviate the financial risk of making a big shift. Reduce your expenses, get a second job, support your spouse in working, or start a side gig. Most people that are unhappy at work feel that they do not have any other choice but to stay. Without some level of financial safety net, the risk and anxiety of leaving your job may be too significant.
  2. Dreaming. There is zero risk in dreaming about what you want. Carve out even five minutes a day to explore and be intentional about your work and life dreams by asking yourself the big questions. Reflect on what it is most important to you in the next phase of work and life.  With the right questions and process in a short time you will see patterns and a direction emerge. Reconnect with your dreams first and then get very practical about what is feasible and what would be a financially profitably way to approach it. Here are a couple of questions to get you started. Remember these are brainstorming exercises, so no filter and no right or wrong answer. This is between you and you.  Your answers may range from specific and small to visionary to vague: If time, money, or the opinion of others were not a factor, what goals and activities would you pursue? What issues, causes, and problems that need solving have you been particularly drawn to.
  3. Taking micro steps. Don’t stop with dreaming, because without action (and eventually a plan), you won’t make progress. Once you know what you want, then start making a list of infinitesimal, doable steps you can take toward it.
  4. Finding something meaningful in your work now. Bringing more of yourself into your life can help. Try one of these every day: write down one way in which you are contributing in a positive way to your company; start the day by recording one thing you are grateful for at work; reach out consciously to someone at work with a kind or encouraging word; go outside at lunch and breathe the fresh air; or brainstorm out-of-the-box ideas to help your company that would also fuel your own passions.

How about you, what one small, infinitesimal step can you take to begin toward work that is meaningful to you?


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Suffering, Beauty, and the Dump


I was so taken by the majesty of nature when I arrived at the dog park today.

I shot this photo but I wasn’t sure if I would share it.

It was early morning and I was up and out by six am.

10 minutes earlier I had been buying a Venti at Starbucks. Since the rest of my Saturday would be full of work and kids’ activities, I decided to grab a cup of coffee to take with me in the hopes of creating an atypical, slower-paced, meditative walking space.

As I was heading out of Starbucks, I noticed the grief-stricken face of a woman on the cover of the New York Times—I couldn’t pass her by. The mother’s daughter had been killed in a terrorist attack and a photographer shot the photo as she bent over her daughter’s coffin.

I took her suffering to the park with me (as I often do).

Then, when I arrived, Nature greeted me with this gift and the anguish and beauty were existing together.

(Until my phone rang.)

My daughter called to be sure I would be back in time to bring her to the dump to sell raffle tickets for her basketball team.

Yup, the dump.

And there it is—beauty, suffering and carpools to the dump.

Some days, life in the ‘burbs can feel so trivial in the backdrop of world events.

And hard to resolve in my head and heart.

But, today it all matters.

That mother was still with me as I soaked in the gift of awe-inspiring nature. And the drive to the the dump was meaningful in all its ordinariness because talking with my daughter is sacred.

I am taking it all in. Being fully in it.

Every bit of it literally exists in my cells.

Today, I am embracing life.

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