Do you still wear the same clothes you did when you were 15?

My guess is that the answer is a strong “No!” (with maybe a silent “hell” before the word no). My point here is that as you get older, your style changes as you learn, grow and change yourself. Your passion grows with you.

So why do we have this mentality that we should work in the same field until retirement? Why do we expect something that fulfilled us at 25 still do so at 35? 45? 65?

When was the last time you were so absorbed in something that you lost track of time? Or, you finished a task and felt really satisfied. How good did that feel?

Well that’s purpose, folks – the sense of satisfaction that comes with creativity, focus and a job well done.

Too often, we equate the word “career” with “purpose”. And then we find ourselves tired, burnt out, lost, bored, stuck, and a million other words that are no fun. And if you’ve ever felt this way, you definitely aren’t alone.

What if your career was something that actually gave you purpose? Something you didn’t look forward to retiring from?

Take a look at the dictionary definition of the word career:

career [ kuh-reer] 

  1. an occupation or profession, especially one requiring special training, followed as one’s lifework:
  2. a person’s progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking:
  3. success in a profession, occupation, etc.
  4. a course, especially a swift one

The same website cites the antonyms for career (the opposite), as:

  • Amusement
  • Avocation 
  • Entertainment
  • Recreation

A career doesn’t have to mean something we do, until we can finally retire and not have to do it anymore. Or we count down the days until we’ve saved up enough money that we can just quit. 

Here’s the thing you have to keep in mind: A job is just a job. Your passion and sense of purpose is based on who you are, not what you do. And who you are evolves, grows, and changes over time. Don’t be defined by your job or career.

You are an interesting person, so it makes sense that you’d be interested in different types of work over the course of your career. What if instead of focusing on that big retirement party at some distant point in the future, you started focusing on how to make your work purposeful and meaningful today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life?

Sure, it won’t look the same at each stage. But what if it could feel the same? I don’t know exactly where I’ll be in 10, 20 or 30 years. But I do know I don’t want to retire from doing the thing I love. And, more importantly, the prospect of helping people find fulfillment and purpose excites me, it’s what I consider my life’s work, my purpose.

So, take time today to start thinking not about the job you do now or the next one, but instead about what makes you happy, purposeful, fulfilled – what you’d never want to give up no matter how old you get. Your answer to that means you don’t have to countdown to the last day of your job, but instead you get to look forward to every day, here and now.

And remember: A job is just a job. Your passion and sense of purpose is based on who you are, not what you do. And who you are evolves, grows, and changes over time. Don’t be defined by your job or career.

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