On Purpose: Getting Lost
"Are you a workaholic?" A newer friend asked with sincerity in the middle of a party.
"No, but I used to be..." I replied.
We were sitting on the sofa in our friend's house catching up a bit when the conversation went deep. I like deep, so I was in my element.
"It's really just a busy season and I knew it was coming. Now that I'm in it, I'm noticing how long my days are and how much capacity I have to accomplish again. But I am tired right now. It's a lot." I added.
She nodded and I continued, "Busy is different than what it used to be because my motives have changed as I've gotten into the roots of why I did what I did back then..."
You could say I was lost for a long time and a few years back, I began to find my footing again. I've been reflecting on this conversation as I prepared to write for the week, considering what it means to be where I am now versus where I was then.
From where I sit now, it seems I had to get lost in my work to discover who I am and what I was really made for in this life. I have an appreciation for the years I lived focusing on what people thought of me and the seasons when proving myself worthy was a way of life. I have compassion for myself in the places where I experienced gaps in real areas of need like being loved and belonging. It's fascinating to uncover what we do to fill in our own gaps in this life... And perhaps more so, amazing to learn how even the bad can shape us for good as we heal and move forward.
These days getting lost has taken on new meaning for me. Once my motives were identified and ironed out through a lot of personal transformation, I started imagining a future I knew I wanted but never knew how to cultivate. Of course, it's still a process, but getting lost here has looked a whole lot like trying new things. For one, when I left the non-profit world almost four years ago, I focused my business consultancy in a 'project management' direction and set aside major time to write the draft of my first full book manuscript. Within the first year and a half I understood that while I was employing skills that came naturally to me, I wasn't thoroughly enjoying most of the work I was taking on. It was risky to pivot my business to focus more in areas of strength and passion but I reached a point where it was more painful to stay the same than to pivot. While I'm still working hard to grow it, I can't express how worthwhile it has been to make the changes I've made.
Getting lost has also meant that I've taken on side roles that met specific needs for me along the way. It has been so freeing to choose what I've needed instead of letting a role define me or my value. I took one position because the projects I'd taken on at the time had me working alone often. As an extrovert, I was experiencing a huge deficit in energy level which was actually negatively affecting my work. So, I opted to give quite a number of hours weekly in a job that didn't pay much, but afforded me the opportunity to work with people all of the time! While I was there, I gained insight into their organizational structure and what worked well and what didn't work well. I learned a ton. It helped me and I hope it helped them to have me there.
In another role I've recently stepped into on an interim basis, I'm learning a whole new skill set in business—accounting. Truth be told, this particular area feels like the antithesis to my natural wiring. In college, I felt like I was pretty terrible at it, actually. My grades were mediocre, at best, and I didn't think I had a knack for being able to understand it. Coursework in accounting was required to attain my marketing degree, so I couldn't avoid it. And, here I am 17.5 years later, working in a capacity where I'm learning pieces of it more intentionally. Life is funny... This might sound strange, but It's actually awesome to be in over my head. I know the work I'm doing now will help me in the future as I learn this new 'language' and better understand structural considerations for billing, payments, vendors, systems and more. It's pretty wonderful, actually (even on the days when I totally mess something up).
Getting lost here, in these side roles, has been an important piece in my journey forward. The intentionality required to get lost in order to move forward and have needs met is key. Who knows where we'll be a few years, after all? But what if we focus on what's in front of us, serving others and growing as people? A lot of good can come from putting ourselves in places and positions that are needed today—for ourselves and for others.
- Have you gotten lost lately?
- What does it look like for you?
- Is it helping you to stay stuck or to move forward?