Yesterday I wrote about the power of finding your sparks--those talents, skills, gifts, qualities, interests or commitments to something larger than yourself that make you feel most alive, joyful and filled with purpose.
Today, I want to talk a little bit more about your sparks and how they do (or don't) connect to your career.
Here's the thing. . .
In an ideal world, you would be paid to express your sparks. When we talk about people building a career on their "passions," this is really what we mean.
Many people are fortunate to find a way to get paid for their sparks and I personally believe that part of the value in developing multiple income streams is that you can often turn your sparks into a source of revenue for you.
Seeking to be paid for your sparks, especially in a culture that makes work so central to our sense of selves, is probably the easiest way to live a life in alignment with your sparks.
But although I'm an idealist at heart, I also have a practical edge. I understand that we live in a world that is largely about productivity and profit and that not all of our sparks are going to generate enough revenue to make a living.
I also know that sometimes what it takes to make your sparks generate revenue can kill the joy that you feel in them. Here I'm thinking of an artist friend I know whose graphic design and corporate artwork pays the bills, but a little piece of his soul dies every time he has to use his artistic skills for that kind of work. Unfortunately, the art that makes his soul sing isn't as lucrative for him.
In these circumstances, our work and "career" may need to be structured differently. We may want to look for something that provides us with the income, space and time to express our sparks in the non-work parts of our lives.
And rather than seeing our jobs or our work as our primary source of identity (as our society encourages us to do), we need to shift into seeing our sparks as "who we are." Work is something we DO, in these circumstances. But when we think of who we ARE, what makes us special and feel alive--that comes in our spark moments.
If you are able to integrate your sparks into your work and career path, then that's wonderful. But if not, I still think that finding and expressing your sparks should play a major role in how you think about and plan for your career. In this case, finding work that can support the expression of your sparks becomes the goal.
Here's what I know.