Thursday, July 24, 2008

Career Inklings from Columbia

Work and Play Fusion

The first day that I entered the grownup world of work, I wondered when I could go back to being a kid again. That was many years ago, before I learned that work and play could actually be two sides of the same coin. It was a matter of attitude and perspective. Thirty years and some (much?) grey hair later, I feel like the words from a song by Bob Dylan: “But I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.”

Everything about working seemed difficult to me back then: adult clothes, long hours, getting there, getting home, what to eat for lunch, who to eat lunch with, and on and on. I truly felt my spirits sag as my freedom floated away. Perhaps I had the wrong idea of what work was supposed to be. Maybe I didn’t know how to connect with my work. But, gradually, over the years I discovered that the secret to my success, happiness, passion resided in me.

How did I discover this? Well, jumping from job to job, boss to boss, year after year was exhilarating at first. You know, the novelty of new things. But, then it became exhausting, as in. “Hey, wait a minute! Why am I doing this again?” Finally, the moment of truth arrived and my discontent became elucidating. I realized that my problem was mine alone to grapple with and solve.

I can’t say that my discontent miraculously dissipated with that realization. I didn’t suddenly reach career nirvana or magically achieve that elusive workplace bliss. But gradually I saw that the one common denominator in all of my jobs was me. I became better prepared to shift the responsibility for my happiness and fulfillment from “out there” to “in here”.

Figuring out what I wanted, who I was and what my talents were began the slow process of awareness. In many ways I’d taken the opinions of others as gospel of my career choice. I’d continued on a path developed, designed and dictated by others, rather than listened to my own intuition. By shifting my emphasis from the external world of expectation, to the internal world of desire, the “little voice” of dissension became a barometer of the change only I could make. Gradually I mustered the courage and the skill to move toward the direction I felt suited me better rather than always running away from my current circumstances.

I’m not in career nirvana yet, but workplace bliss is becoming more attainable.

As Picasso said: “It takes a long time to become young”. Why wait? Let your “young-ness” begin today, by fusing play with your work!

Next time I’ll discuss some ways to recognize the voice that’s your own as you brave the journey that honors you, your talents and what you bring to the world.

Janet Ruck is as an escapee from the world of full-time work. As a career consultant and writer, she is consumed with helping people identify their passions, uniqueness, interests and talents to keep them from slipping into the faceless abyss of the workplace. Janet encourages herself and her clients through the use of journaling and creative self-expression as means of gaining perspective and insight into their authentic selves. She helps clients create and sustain satisfying careers by recognizing their own personal magic. Contact her at

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