I’m using a few tips from Amy Poehler’s book, “Yes Please” to get through this week… and possibly to get through the next month.
At one point in her book she is navigating through her complicated and adventurous past career journey, she takes a moment to talk about how dangerous it is to become too attached to our careers. The more attached and focused on our identity we are, the more it can let us down. She describes the difference between creativity and your career, and how creativity is what drives our passion and keeps us doing “what we love,” while our careers are “the stringing together of opportunities and jobs.”
Our career is much more tricky. We might be lucky to use our passion and our creativity throughout our career, but our career will not fill us up in the same way our creativity will. And the more we care about where and how we get to a certain point or goal, the more we are caring about our career instead of our passion. She writes:
“Ambivalence is the key to success…You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look….”
“You will rarely feel done or complete or successful. Most people I know struggle with that complicated soup of feeling slighted on one hand and like a total fraud on the other… Ambivalence can help tame the beast. Remember, your career is a bad boyfriend. It likes it when you don’t depend on it. It will reward you every time you don’t act needy. It will chase you if you act like other things (passion, friendship, family, longevity) are more important to you. If your career is a bad boyfriend, it is healthy to remember you can always leave and go sleep with somebody else.”
I’m sharing this because, like me, you might need a reminder like this right now. I spent a few weeks this last month getting VERY tied up into my worth and identity as small business owner, and it was a dangerous game. I associated my lack of recent wins with my worth as a person, which is NOT what we should ever be doing.
We should follow our passion, use our strengths, do our best work, and do it for the purpose that is willing to pay us well for it.
If you are in a tough spot right now wondering how your career might have steered you wrong, I’m encouraging you to take a look below the surface. What are you really fighting for, and what drives you to do your work? What is your passion, and how can you follow that in different areas in your life – despite what your career is telling you?
How can you start thinking of your career like a bad boyfriend that might let you down at any point? How can you remain resilient while the bad boyfriend casually ‘forgets’ to be your DD one night?
For me, it looks very similar to how I get out of a ‘funk’ in my personal life. I start doing things that feed me- not things that feed my work. It might be taking more dog walks, playing with my kids more, getting back to meditation, or making my workouts a priority instead of cooking dinner. I start asking myself, “What will bring me joy and reignite my passion RIGHT NOW?” Is it reading, writing, going outside, having a drink with a friend?
Whatever it is- do it.
Feed yourself. Feed your passion, and don’t let your career let you down when you need it most.