Friday, October 7, 2011

Working It: What's In Me - and You (New Feature and an OOTD)

As you undoubtedly heard, Steve Jobs, founder and long-time leader of Apple, Inc. passed away earlier this week after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56 years old. As we grieve the loss of this innovative, inspiring, and brilliant human being, I'm compelled to revisit his oft-quoted message urging people to find work they love that inspires their passion and allows them to create fulfilling lives.

What are the things in your life, that you get up for every morning? The things that you love to do - the stuff that feels like a win, just because you get to do it?

In my work, I have the opportunity to spend a lot of time reading, writing, thinking and talking about educational initiatives that help students prepare for careers. We're always asking kids, "Who do you want to be? What do you want to do?" But these are questions that adults should be asking each other - or themselves, as well. As Pamela asked the other day, "Have you thought about what else you might have in you?"

The fact is, it can be really hard to answer a question like that. Some of us know - have always known, and will always know, what it is we were born to do. The rest of us - well, if we're lucky, we figure it out, sooner than later. The thing is, as Steve Jobs so eloquently reminds us, we don't have a limitless amount of time to figure it out. And we shouldn't settle. As he put it, "The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you've found it."

What do you think? Are you still looking? Have you settled? Or have you found it?

I enjoy my work. It's good, it's meaningful,and it's even important. But I don't know if it's it for me. It may be that I just need to find the right angle on my current job - tweak it and nudge it into place, if you will. There are a couple of projects that are just launching, that may lead me there. Or it may be that I should be taking another direction entirely. I'm in my mid-30s, and I feel that while I have done some really strong work throughout my career, it hasn't always been great work. And with every month that passes, the sense that I need to find it - this amorphous, undefined passion - becomes stronger. If you, like me, are still trying to figure out what it is that may be your life's calling - what's inside you, if you will (thanks, Pamela, for such an apt bit of phrasing) - then, I'm hoping you'll find this new feature helpful and interesting. I'm going to be revisiting and trying out various tools and resources that might be able to help me (and maybe you) zero in on a fully realized version of myself (or yourself). And if you happen to already be there (so lucky!!!), I hope you'll chime in and share your experiences discovering that part of yourself. Here's a short video, that kind of gets to the crux of the matter for me:

Okay, here's what I wore last Sunday - due to unusual circumstances at work (I've just transitioned to a home office! And that's meant packing and moving and unpacking and organizing, and general craziness and chaos, on top of all my regular work...) I'm way behind on posting. But I got so many compliments on this outfit that day (and particularly on the dress), I wanted to share it. Apologies for the bad hair:

Dress: Unconditional Osier Dress, Anthropologie
Belt: Skinny Leather Belt, J. Crew
Necklace: Hang in There Glasses Pendant, Kate Spade

Hope you're all having a great Friday! Thanks for reading!


  1. Very cute - I love that dress with those booties!

    And I get what you mean about your work.  I love my job now and feel that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.  BUT it took a lot of work (and luck) to get there.  I guess you could call me a bit of a wanderer in college.  I finished half of an accounting degree then realized I didn't want to finish.  So then I started on a nursing degree.  Halfway through I didn't want to finish...again.  My dad made me finish nursing (A- he wanted me to finally finish something in college and B - I think he was tired of paying for all this wandering, lol).  So I graduated from nursing school, unhappily.  I got my first job in a hospital.  The money was great but I was really unhappy.  I was in an ICU type setting and found that I was way to sensitive to be around all this death.  I went from a healthy 100 lbs to a very unhealthy 75 lbs from the stress.  I was thinking that nursing was really not my thing.  But then I found my niche.  There are so many different types of nursing that I wasn't aware of.  Now I work with healthy people in an industrial setting and I couldn't be any happier.  I believe this is true for many jobs - there are many different things you can do in the same field that can make you so much happier.  Sometimes unhappy people want to stay where they are because they are scared of the unknown.  But to make your life better sometimes you need to push that fear aside and go for what it is that you want or strive for.

  2. I love that dress on you!!

  3. I really enjoyed your post for today. It really made me reflect upon my life. Thank you for it.

    And I just wanted to say how much I adore your OOTD. You styled the unconditional osier dress wonderfully! Now I'm really tempted to get this dress!

  4. Adorable outfit!
    I feel like I'm teetering on the brink of a slight breakdown what with everyone asking me what I'm going to be doing once I graduate combined with the stress of my dissertation. Argh! Luckily, I figure that I'm still young so I have time to work things out - at least I have that with me!

  5. I remember having a conversation with a co-worker once and she asked me what I would be if I wasn't a math teacher.  I thought for a second and blurted out, "I don't think I would BE if I wasn't a math teacher."  I feel like its so ingrained in my essence, that to image me without it, I couldn't possibly exist in the world.  It's what I live for and it's who I am.  I specifically find that I work well with the weaker kids, the ones who were never good in math.  I try to build them up and give them an opportunity to be good at it for once, that way their 'doors' won't be shut when they go apply to college.  I could not imagine doing anything else. 

    But I think that no matter what, everyone has that certain thing that makes them who they are.  Sometimes it takes longer to find it, but when you do you'll know what it is. 

  6. You look so so adorable in this dress Carol!! And thank you for sharing a great post today. It got me thinking too.

  7. Like other people have said - it took me a long time to get to where I am now, and like you, I don't think this is necessarily "IT".  Whatever that means.  I know that I don't love every aspect of my job, I have days that really suck, and yet I feel engaged and stimulated and the love the variety that comes from teaching.
    However, the things that REALLY make me happy every day are not exactly passions that I could pursue professionally.  They are (although they don't follow this order in terms of what I like most): sleeping (going to bed, taking naps...), my morning coffee ritual in the morning (making a strong pot of french press coffee, listening to NPR and checking email), and walking our dogs - or just spending time with our dogs.  That said, if I have an awesome day at work and have fantastic classes, or if I've had a great run, then these just add to my day's happiness quotient.  

  8. This is definitely one of the cutest outfits I have seen lately. So cute!

  9. You look really lovely in that dress ;)


  10. Yes!  I love the idea of this new feature!  I feel great satisfaction in what I do with my work but employee morale is low-as is with most public service jobs right now in WI.  It has a trickle down effect.  But I always felt there was more out there for me, something else. I guess as I get older and more comfortable with my income and lifestyle, the thought of a career change is FRIGHTENING! I think I need to start out slowly, so this feature is so timely! 

  11. your outfit is adorable here! i love the shade of that lace dress, and the glasses necklace is awesome. i've been grappling with the same questions lately, mostly fueled by turning 30, about what i should be doing. it scares me to even wonder about it, because i can so easily keep on going at my comfortable job. it is good to have something kick-start you into thinking about how you could improve though.

  12. Helo! I love your style! You have very
    beautiful pics! I will follow you:)

    Big hug & kiss:)

  13. I love this ensemble! The mix of tough boots with the very femme dress is a combo I often try to assemble with my own wardrobe.

    As far as the philosophical aspects of this post, you definitely have stimulated my thinking. Even if I feel like I am on a career path that suits me, knowing whether or not I am executing my goals in a way that fulfills my potential... well lets just say that it is a question with which I constantly grapple. Although I want to do more than get by, and although I want to excel, I often feel bogged down by my own expectations. With every goal and accomplishment, there is a nag for better and more. There is the feeling that those accomplishments are inserted into some larger competition which is perhaps what drives humans to create and invent and improve but perhaps also leads to feelings of inadequacy... that we are never good enough. And while this can work to the benefit of human progress (in health, science, environmental protection, economic gain, etc.), I am suspicious of the ways that ideological notions of "progress" and "success" have engendered a culture in which, despite all evidence of extreme success, individual satisfaction is never reached. I worry about how my own feelings of inadequacies effect my senses of gratitude, humbleness, contentment, and perspective. Because when I look at my life I am very lucky, even if I am not the richest, smartest, most beautiful, most accomplished person in the world or even the room...