The Gallup Organization has conducted research over the past fifty years and then assessed the results from across many different nations, languages, and life situations to determine what it takes for one to experience wellbeing. Discovering five common strands threaded through the many results they have released a book called Wellbeing to describe them. The first element is “Career Wellbeing” which they define as “how you occupy your time” or “liking what you do every day.” Reading this chapter has led me to several observations that are really impacting the way I think about how I view my life and work.
My first observation is that what makes one’s career fulfilling is not necessarily the same thing as what makes them a living. We define our careers far too narrowly. When we think of a career our minds turn first to our job, or maybe the type of job that we wish we had. Certainly our careers involve what we do to make a living but on the larger scale our careers are made up of what we do with our time and what we work at accomplishing. “You don’t need to earn a paycheck to have thriving Career Wellbeing. But you do need to find something that you enjoy doing — and have an opportunity to do it every day.” In some cases our jobs can help us to directly fulfill our goals and in other cases they are what facilitates accomplishing what is most important to us.
When Gayle first began to talk about releasing a full length album it would have been hard to imagine even for a musician just how much it would take to make this happen. The vicissitudes of Gayle’s journey have included moments where it looked like releasing this album would never happen as well as where needed breakthroughs came through in surpising ways and at just the right times. The process that began over a year and a half ago has finally reached its culmination. Gayle’s new album “Make Believe” and best work to date will release this Saturday evening, November 13th. The CD Release Show will be at the Ruby Room in San Diego at 7 PM.
There are certain points of pain that magnify our need for wellbeing. I think the one that impacts me the most is the social, which the book Wellbeing describes as “having strong relationships and love in your life.” I want to know that I am contributing to the lives of others, that I am a good friend and that I am loved by those in my life. When I returned from my travels I found that San Diego had become a lonely place. My group of friends it seems have scattered and moved on to new places or aspects of their lives and I have not done much for the last few years to replenish my relationships here.
When we don’t feel well connected to community we begin to beat ourselves up and to think that there must be something wrong with us or we would have more friends. The vicious cycle begins when we so dislike ourselves that we think others don’t care for us either. The more we retreat into isolation the more our insecurities are affirmed until we have walled ourselves into self-made prison cells of isolation.
There are seasons of life that demand so much attention in particular areas that we lose sight of others. Finishing up four years of seminary has caused me to think about this a lot in recent months. I learned to survive working full time and studying at the graduate level by a selective focus that allowed me to ignore areas that seemed to difficult to initiate or to maintain. The routines that I developed in survival mode have become harder to shake than I would have thought. Reentry from graduate studies into the rest of my life is not automatic as it turns out.
My last six months of seminary wore me down. It was all I could do to try to maintain a positive outlook on life. It seemed that several years of unbalanced living had caught up to me. Staring at the finish line awoke my senses to the rest of my life that was still there and needed to be addressed. In school mode I trained myself to focus on completing the next assignment, finishing the current class and making it through one quarter at a time.
A graduation is called a commencement, however, because it is only a beginning. Finishing a degree program is not meant to complete our pursuits but to ignite us to follow them with enligthened vigor. This overwhelmed me as I pondered how much of my life I had learned to tune out just to get by.