Career Counselor, Marcus Dabb
Extract from my books Foreword, by Glynn Curran
Work/life balance has become one of the mantras of the age. Many pay homage to the principle. Few live by it. The sad fact is that for a great number of us, work and life - far from being in balance - are in opposition. Life has become merely the underside of work; a sort of shadow existence ruled by the demands of the 9-5 routine.
With this dominance of work and marginalisation of life, we actually miss the vital core of living, which is to experience life as a journey - a sort of unfolding of who we truly are. We die no wiser than we begin. Worse still, there is the feeling of a series of fatal delays and opportunities squandered... the seeds of midlife crises.
If this type of life trajectory were rare, we could write it off as an aberration, a kind of individual pathology. But the facts speak otherwise. It seems that as many as 80% of us sense a mismatch between our work and our aspirational impulses. In other words, the state of working actually stands between us and our true work - the vocational mission that we were put on earth to do. In the process, we have consented to let work become our ruling addiction and life a mere add-on. Unfortunately, our callings don’t take well to being domesticated.
Reflect for a moment, on how freeing it would be if we could get the work/life balance right, if we could reclaim work as the seat of our passions and the pulsing engine of our better nature, giving energy and definition to who we really are. The author of this work - intended as an ongoing series - clearly believes that this is possible, that it is possible to “relish being at work” and to “bring that feeling of invigoration back into (one’s) home life.”
This book doesn’t revert to giving you tests to take or offering packaged information on how to find your ideal career. What it will do is take you on a road trip and insist that you keep an inventory on what you see, invite you to take note of the signposts along the way and set a style of your own that is not imitative.
It is going to pitch some hard questions. It is going to ask you to do an unsparing psychological audit as to what really motivates you. It will challenge your existing value system and ask you to leave aside the conference centre junkets to take a tour of duty. It pulls no punches in terms of the ultimatum - it is your life and happiness that is at stake.
At the centre of the hero’s quest is the determination to stop paddling about in the shallows and ask yourself: What if by working you have been denying your authentic work? Having put most of your waking life into your work, what are you getting out of it? Exactly how fulfilling has your life been to date? Where has it brought you? If it were to end tomorrow would you spend your last day reflecting on how yours was a life well lived?
Whether you’re mildly unhappy, or actively desperate, be consoled. For many people, work, as well as life, has become a wilderness. But wildernesses have always been incubators for a new vision.
The sun is setting on the day where the bulk of our energy is diverted into the state of the economy, celebrity voyeurism, pseudo fears of terrorism or simply tending our own patch. Instead, it will centre on creating opportunities for ourselves and others in order to truly express who we are and what we have to offer one another. But it will take a critical mass to inspire this change. And before this, it will take pioneering voices to comprehend that change is possible. The author is one such voice.