It’s easy to confuse “your work” with “your job.”  

For much of my career I have been employed as a consultant and coach to corporations.  That job allowed me to get paid and to focus on my own personal ambition to “help others improve.”  Sometimes my employment made a meaningful difference to individuals, and sometimes it was just a paycheck.

For others, their employment has little to do with what is most important to them.  My friend is a successful physical therapist, however he would describe “his work” as serving in a nonprofit that assists families in poverty.

“Your work” is your unique contribution to the world. It doesn’t matter if that work is global in scope or intimate in nature; well-known or obscure. Your work (emphasis on the your) provides you with an intrinsic reward of contributing to something that is important to you. 

Discovering what your work is isn’t something you stumble across or get lucky to find; it is something you forge.  

Consider how metal is forged. A piece of steel becomes a work of art through endless rounds of heating, shaping, and cooling. It’s not easy. The metal doesn’t quickly lend itself to the new shape. It takes skill and demands perseverance from the metal worker.

Forging your work is exploratory by nature. It requires you to see what is possible, make choices within your control, and practice new skills. All the while, you’ll be fighting the pull of the past and more comfortable habits.

The idea of finding a perfect path to your own unique work can be paralyzing.  The key isn’t perfection, it’s to be directionally correct. It takes endurance to forge–lots of trial and error and patience, and that forging requires you to be patient in the process.

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