When I work with my clients, I’m always searching for their source of inspiration. It’s one of the most important resources that they have, yet often remains unidentified.
Inspiration is a bit different to having fun. There’s a lot of ways to have fun, but they tend to be rather fleeting. I’ll go see a movie, and enjoy it – but if it dragged on for another couple of hours, I’d probably lose interest.
When it comes to managing your career, it’s a little dangerous to just focus on which activities you find enjoyable. Just because those are fun in the moment doesn’t mean that you’d like to spend the next 10 (or more) years working at it.
Inspiration is something different: It doesn’t give you pleasure from the outside, it gives you energy from the inside.
Inspiration is one of the things which makes each of us unique, linked to our personality, our goals, and purpose. It tends to tie together multiple aspects of our lives, not just limited to work or family or spirituality.
Here’s my best example: I enjoy the process of learning. Sounds simple, right? But this shows up throughout my life:
- I like new jobs which challenge me.
- I love interacting with new clients who are teaching me about their area of expertise.
- I get bored with TV shows that become repetitive and predictable.
- I volunteered to lead a chant choir primarily because it was something so far outside my experience.
As you can see, my source of inspiration is linked to a range of activities which I find fun and enjoyable. But it’s important to understand the deeper impetus behind this, because that will help me make better career decisions.
Instead of just jumping from job to job because I’ve enjoyed when I’ve done that, I’ll evaluate new opportunities based on what I’ll be able to learn.
This is particularly important as I’m building my coaching business. I’ve been doing this as my full-time job for nearly four years now, and still have a long way to go. If I would have lost interest and moved to a different career last year, I wouldn’t be now enjoying the fruits of a growing business. So it’s crucial that I understand that my learning is now focused on working with a diverse client base, rather than changing career paths.
I work with clients to help them understand their sources of inspiration, and how they want to have that show up in their life choices. And I observe that these can sometimes show up as an internal conflict over the choices they’re making.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable and unfulfilled, look for the deeper sources of what inspires and energizes you. And keep digging!