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Your Work Is To Discover Your Work January 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.

When I stopped practicing law, I spent hour upon frustrated hour trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I didn’t realize at the time that our life’s work is to discover our life’s work:

Your work is to discover your work and pursue it with passion.  ~ Buddha


To help sort things out, I reviewed my life experiences and created a list of clues to consider.  This week, while sorting through my writing files, I found the list:

1.  Time is our most valuable commodity. Once it slips through the hourglass, it is gone forever.  Each option we pursue precludes other pursuits.

So many options . . . so little time.

2.  I don’t want a set bedtime.  I don’t want to set an alarm.  I don’t want to play dress up.  I don’t want to cart weighty litigation bags through snow and slush.  I don’t want to waste time at the water cooler.

I want to spend my days “in the flow” doing what I want to do.

3.  I want to be happy by making others happy and sharing what I’ve learned ~ teaching a class in Zen, operating a B&B on a sailboat, playing with kids, singing, painting, cooking, writing.

When we do what we love, we never have to work another day in our life.

4.  The work we do adds (or detracts) from our joy of living.  Before law school, I enjoyed working as a babysitter, a beer-tender at the Hoi Polloi, a food server at the Garden State Arts Center, and as the campus distributor of Exam Survival Kits at W&M ~ the kits contained candy, snacks, and a Crammer Hammer . . . to cram knowledge into over-stuffed brains.

Hey, maybe that hammer led me to Becker’s Hardware where I met BFF?

5.  Silence your mind.  Just be.  Focus on your breath.  Slip into the space between your thoughts.  Meditate.  In the silence of not doing, we begin to know what we feel.  LISTEN.

When we know WHO we are, we know HOW to live.

6.  Stop living by consensus.  Be who you really are.  Follow your intuitive impulses.  Do what you want to do.  When we switch from an external to an internal reference point, people find it much harder to manipulate us with insincere compliments and unwarranted criticisms.

Stop struggling against the current.  Go with the flow. Let the future unfold.


7.  Now that you know WHO you are, update your resume.   Focus on what makes you, you:  

Resumes should be
the ultimate marketing
tool ~ toot your own horn

Don’t feel constrained by past choices.  You made your bed . . . you can unmake it. Consistency is consistently over-rated.

When the time is right, you’ll know it.  Everything will coalesce.  You’ll have the time, the experience, the idea, the spark, the inspiration, the ability, the enthusiasm to fulfill your life purpose.

Great.  Now breathe.  Relax.  And let the Universe work its Magic.


Writing the list allowed me to embrace the uncertainty with a touch more confidence.  Instead of feeling panicked at the idea that I didn’t know what was next on the Agenda, I relaxed into the flow of life with alert curiosity.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Ordeals and challenges may serve the purpose of shaking us loose from our moorings to set us up for important changes we can’t see or imagine from our limited time-based perspective.  

Has that ever been your experience?

Related post:  What is Your Unique Purpose in Life? (Ordinary Vegan) * Grow in the Direction of Happiness


1. Rainee - January 15, 2014

Thanks for this blog Nancy. The message is very timely for me 🙂

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

After reading your post yesterday, I thought it might be, Rainee.

Making the list helped me to relax into the flow. Not long after creating this list, I saw a classified ad in the paper that seemed to be lit up in neon ~> the Universe working its magic to make sure it got my attention.

I became director of a domestic violence team in NJ and the next chapter of life started. The position did NOT require me to play dress up, or engage in idle chatter at the water cooler, or lug litigation bags through the snow, or have set hours. Cool, eh?

Rainee - January 15, 2014

Very cool! I am keeping my eyes and ears open for new opportunities and interests 🙂

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

Going through life with “alert curiosity” allows us to see the doors and windows opening before us. Good Luck!

2. SuziCate - January 15, 2014

Needed to hear these words today. I am currently doing many things I enjoy…not making a living from it but quite content.
BTW you and BFF are the second married couple (of long time standing) I know of who met in a hardware store! She was indecisive on paint colors and he was purchasing paint…offered his opinion and his help to paint and the rest is history!

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

I think the #1 clue to “right livelihood” begins when we ask: “Am I Growing In The Direction of Happiness?” And that’s a great story, Suzi. I’ve read that women who want to meet real men should hang out at Hardware Stores rather than nightclubs.

BFF and I both worked at Beckers. We started dating 6 months before I left for law school. And the rest is history.

3. katecrimmins - January 15, 2014

For most of my career I worked at a job I loved. When I didn’t love it, I left. When I worked in human resources my favorite counsel was to do what you love. If you don’t love what you are doing, you need to move on. Life is too short. Great advice.

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

Great advice, Kate! Here’s to doing what we love and loving what we do. 😀

4. Morgan - January 15, 2014

This is a Perfectly Lovely start to my day…Thank You 🙂

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

You’re welcome. It’s great when it resonates.

5. Pix Under the Oaks - January 15, 2014

I have never worked at what I went to college to learn to be. I worked retail all my life and loved it until 2001 when I was too tired to unpack one more box of Hallmark cards or gift items. Good advice Nancy!

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

It’s great to know what we want to do . . . or not do. Glad you had the chance to work at something you loved ~ if I worked in retail, I’d choose a store populated by BOOKS!

Pix Under the Oaks - January 15, 2014

I did that too for a short while. I worked at a bookstore for a college of chiropractic. Man those books were heavy!

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

That’s how chiropractors drum up extra business . . . heavy books! 😉

6. colonialist - January 15, 2014

When I think of how few the occasions were during my career when I actually had a feeling of job satisfaction, I so wish I had read the writing on the wall and transferred it to pages!

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

Sounds like writing (and word play) has always been one of your true loves in life. Me too.

colonialist - January 15, 2014

It was. I managed to gravitate into some writing in my job – but wordplay was strictly frowned upon!

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

The writing I do now is much more fun than writing 25-page legal “notes” with an additional 25 pages of footnotes. 😉

7. brendamarroy - January 15, 2014

Great post, Nancy.

I have definitely had the experience of being locked out of places I was too afraid to leave, thrown out of places and groups I did not know how to leave, and coming to terms and admitting I had painted the rocks blue so I would not have to leave my waterless well.

I survived each and every experience and grew in the process. Everything does happen as planned at just the right time. It feels wonderful to be in a place of rest, knowing all is well. Hugs, Brenda

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

Thanks, Brenda. You’ve expressed a condensed version of your experiences in such a positive way ~ coming out of them with growth, learning, and peace.

8. Don - January 15, 2014

Thanks Nancy. It’s so good to be able to listen to your experience and walk through life. On a personal note, I have done many things and have been many things, some I enjoyed and loved, others I found tedious and full of drudgery. The one thing I’m grateful for is the perpetual change that has happened throughout my working life. This constant change has always enabled me to let go of that which I found to be drudgery and to take hold of that which gave me much joy and meaning. Thanks for sharing. A joy to read.

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

Yes! Change allows and encourages us to let go of what isn’t working to create more space for things that are a better fit.

When I look back over my life, I see lots of “building blocks” that led to “this door.”

9. Tom Merriman - January 15, 2014

Makes perfect sense to me, Nancy. I shall have to revisit your list, and have a go at tweaking it to my own preferences, I think. Or, in other words write my own list! 😀
I’m feeling in a rut – this, I know, will help. Thank you!

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

I expect that feeling in a rut (or feeling bored) encourages us to engage in valuable introspection at the precise times when we will benefit most from shaking things up a bit. In other words, even ruts serve a useful purpose. :mrgreen:

Good luck with creating a custom-tailored just-for-you list.

10. Perfecting Motherhood - January 15, 2014

This post rings a bell with me as I’m working on my goals for 2014, trying to figure out where I want to head my life and maybe once and for all find out what I want to be when I grow up. I have a lot of “yeah, that’s nice” goals, but one much harder to achieve that’s more like, “yeah, I want to be that”. My challenge is making room for this big goal with taking care of everyday business to keep me afloat. Challenge accepted!

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

Excellent plan, Milka. Here’s hoping you can fit all the pieces together into a Big Picture that’s uniquely YOU.

11. Patricia - January 15, 2014

I have never been quite as organized as you. It seems life just sort of happens for me. And life is good. I must being doing something but I don’t know what it is. Maybe I just take change as it comes.and take what works and leave the rest. Took me a while to get to this point…was a time i fought every little thing but no more. Makes for a happy ditz..

nrhatch - January 16, 2014

You rock, Patricia! I would say that you have the knack of living the good life.

12. Behind the Story - January 15, 2014

I love your title. It says it all.

nrhatch - January 16, 2014

Here’s to pursuing our passion with purpose.

13. jannatwrites - January 16, 2014

I like your thoughtful approach to this and how you made the list. I remember in college, I went the first year without a major. Then came the pressure to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had no idea and felt that panicked feeling. I always felt I was ‘off’ because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. It makes me feel better to think that learning is the journey 🙂

nrhatch - January 16, 2014

I know that subtle shift helped me immensely.

For every “Mozart” (who started composing at an age when we were still in kindergarten) there is a Grandma Moses (who “blooms” later in life).

It also helped to realize that our purpose is not always ONE thing ~ it’s fluid. Our purpose morphs over time allowing us to hone one skill while dabbling in another.

14. Three Well Beings - January 16, 2014

I like “You made your bed, you can unmake it!” That’s actually gold. I think it’s really important to know what makes you happy. Too many people I know can’t seem to answer that, which challenges me to be sure that I always do know what I feel is important to me. So often we chase prestige and occupation when we’re younger, and then wake up mid-life and realize “been there, done that” and we can finally do the things we want to do. I’m glad for the times in life I chased my own tail a bit–I learned I didn’t like it very much and don’t want to do it again! 🙂 Wise words, Nancy!

nrhatch - January 16, 2014

Thanks, Deb! I am convinced that we are here to be happy and to make others happy . . . but that’s just the starting point. The HOW we do that varies from X to Y to Z.

Comedians make us happy by encouraging us to laugh. Chefs make us happy by feeding us good grub. Some of us are Joyful Entertainers . . . even if the only place we perform is in the line at the grocery store.

Chasing our tails is GREAT exercise! :mrgreen:

15. Eric Tonningsen - January 16, 2014

Love your swan! And letting the Universe do its work. Was that the GS Arts Center as… on the Parkway in Holmdel? As for “work” and me, it is increasingly (and easily) becoming about “joy” and “flow.” Why make it more difficult? 🙂

nrhatch - January 16, 2014

Thanks, Eric. Joy + Flow = Perfect Together! Especially with a bit of magic and synchronicity tossed into the mix.

Yes! On the Parkway in Holmdel ~ great venue for a concert and fun place to work.

16. diannegray - January 16, 2014

This is a fabulous post, Nancy. I’ve bookmarked it so I can come back to it to feel ‘centered’. I’ve always thought life is like a river and you just have to go where the universe is taking you – trying to go against the current is fruitless and exhausting. This is why I love the picture of the swan 😀

nrhatch - January 16, 2014

Yes! The river analogy is spot on, Dianne. Life is all about flow ~ a fluid dance from one to the next.

It is exhausting to try to swim upstream.

17. bluebee - January 19, 2014

A hardware store is more auspicious than a beer garden 🙂

nrhatch - January 19, 2014

Working at unique places has added depth and dimension to my field of experience.

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