In 2015 I was fired from what I thought was my dream job
After getting fired, I went through seven years of what I have come to call, “my dark night of the soul.”
This time, for me, was characterized by a general lack of direction or purpose in my life.
If you Google “dark night of the soul” this picture, “Charon” By Gustave Dore comes up:
This picture, to me, epitomizes how the dark night of the soul feels. Lonely, anxious. Surrounded on all sides by unscalable cliffs, pounded by black waves.
At least my dong was covered.
During those seven years, I had 15 jobs:
- Video producer
- Uber driver
- Produce Clerk
- Radio personality
- BBQ restaurant manager
- Hero’s Journey for writers teacher
- Auto Body office manager
- Life Coach
- Haunted Attraction Director
- Marketing Start-up co-owner
- Sound Editor
- ESL Teacher
- Factory worker
Some of these jobs I took because I needed money or health insurance. Some were genuine attempts at finding purpose and direction via a career.
That was me, falling for the Capitalist myth that direction and purpose have to be found through a job or making money.
Don’t get me wrong — your purpose can make you money. A career can bring you a great deal of direction and meaning — in some ways that’s the dream, right?
But, it’s a hard place to start.
Whether you have a purpose or direction in your life, you need to eat. So, if you lack such things, my advice is always, to take care of the eating bit first. Get a job that pays your bills and doesn’t wear you out, if you can. Once you have survival taken care of, then you can pursue a purpose.
That’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right? Physiological and survival needs are at the bottom — they require addressing first. Then, once our basic survival is squared away and taken care of, we can start self-actualizing — becoming who we’re meant to be — discovering our purpose.
There’s a reason the whole thing looks like a pyramid. Bodily needs represent a base that growth and actualization can be built upon. Likewise, purpose and actualization create a point that survival can lead to.
If you make purpose the basis for survival and the rest (the aforementioned western capitalist myth), you get out of balance quick:
So, the advice I give clients trying to find their purpose is not to immediately make “purpose” and “career” synonyms. Take care of your bills and your financial responsibilities first. Then go in search of your purpose. And then, one day, you might just find they’ve become the same thing.
Here’s a video version of this essay:
To get the exercise, famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell used to find his purpose click here: http://eepurl.com/htQq_9