Take a Step Back
Sometimes we just have to take a step back and ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?”
Even though my birthday is still a few months away, it’s been on my mind lately. At first I thought it’s because I’ll be turning 49, which puts me a year shy of the half-century mark. But the more I thought, the more I realized that this has been one of the best years I’ve had in a series of really good years.
Granted, I haven’t done a lot of traveling, nor have I done a lot of speaking; but that’s okay. Instead, it’s been a year of taking care of me and giving myself something I haven’t had for a while – which is economic stability.
When I left the corporate world back in 2013, I was intent on never returning to it again. I was hell-bent on working full time as a personal development coach, and I have to say that I succeeded… but I succeeded a little too well. What I discovered was that people who weren’t ready to work with me on deep, emotional alignments often disappeared quickly, while those who were ready to do deep work on themselves only needed me a couple of times and then they too moved on.
Yay them, and yes, yay me!
The work I did was deeply satisfying and personally rewarding, but the uncertainty of when my next client would come along wore on me. Additionally – and this is a difficult admission to make – what I did never felt truly joyous. Oh, I had a wonderful time and I was especially grateful when I saw people aligning themselves in a way that released their personal expressions of joy, but I always hated having to “hustle” to get new clients. I’ve always seen my work as a labor of love, so by “needing” to make a living doing it, I felt out of alignment.
While there will always be needs that must be met, doing so from a place of joy is essential to enjoying what I do. Doing what must be done, and doing so joyously, aren’t mutually exclusive. If anything, those two align perfectly with each other. My challenge was that I was approaching my work from a place of need rather than joy, and that’s what knocked me out of sync. Rather than taking joyous action to bring in the right clients, I chased after any client in the hope that I could meet my financial obligations.
So it was no small amount of anxiety and feelings of defeat that I decided to return to the corporate world. I was fortunate enough to find work with an amazing company whose culture and philosophies align closely with my own. Even better, my first day on the job was on October 3 last year… which happened to be my birthday. Talk about an awesome birthday gift to myself!
And that’s what got me thinking about the things that have happened since my birthday; because the past couple of months have been really challenging. I won’t go into detail, but I will say that due to some restructuring within my department, I found myself doing a job I didn’t like. I started focusing on things I didn’t like and I soon found myself questioning whether or not I wanted to continue working at that company.
Intellectually, I understood that there is no perfect job, and that sometimes we have to do things we don’t like in order to create opportunities to do things we DO like. Emotionally, however, I was a hot mess. I was on a rampage and finding all sorts of minutia to justify my feelings of self-pity and anger. My internal dialogue was a match for my dark mood, and while I didn’t show my anger outwardly, I was honest if anyone asked me for feedback.
During that whole period, my higher self continuously reminded me that there was a bigger picture I was choosing to ignore. While my attention was focused on swatting away the gnats that were annoying me, I lost sight of the elephant I was riding.
Everything came to a head when one night, in a moment of sheer panic, I took a step back and asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” That’s when I remembered that my original purpose for returning to the corporate world was to provide myself economic stability. I had exactly what I wanted, so why was I obsessed with stuff that didn’t really matter?
I took another step back. If I already had the single most important thing I needed to live and work joyously, what else wasn’t I seeing?
Turns out there was a lot.
I spent a few minutes writing down all of the things that were most important to me in my work and in my life, and by the time I completed the list, I realized that I had it all, and then some.
So why the hell was I complaining?
I was complaining because I fell into the very human tendency to focus on what’s wrong rather than seeing everything that’s right.
And there I was thinking that I’d gotten pretty good at being aware of where I had my focus. Um… no.
I had quietly slipped into auto-pilot without realizing it. It took a couple of months of increasing emotional pain for me to finally realize what I had done, but boy did I snap back into full consciousness the moment I saw what happened.
The good news is that I’m having fun again, my corporate work and my personal work are immensely fulfilling, and I’m living joyously. The lesson here is that when we’re focused on all the little things that annoy us, it helps to step back, ask what’s most important to you, and then look to see if you have those things. If you do, then celebrate what you have and enjoy it! If you don’t, then ask yourself, “What am I doing to create what’s most important to me?”
The Universe really does conspire to help us. A small step on our part is met with a giant leap by Source. Little things, done consistently, with purpose and a conscious recognition of what’s most important, gives us the room we need to live, laugh, and love.
That’s an incredibly simple recipe for joyous living, so why not use it?
About the Author
Appio Hunter is an author, speaker, spiritual guide, and a guy dedicated to raising our collective EQ. He uses his seminars and workshops to facilitate conversations about authenticity, alignment, awareness, and the experience of community, connection, and joy. Appio is also a weekly columnist with The Good Men Project and co-host of the Real Men Feel Show along with his good friend Andy Grant.