“I want it to count …”

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“You are not defined by your past.  You are prepared by your past.” — Joel Osteen

I was having lunch with a friend yesterday, when our conversation turned to what we “do for a living” and what we hope to accomplish through it.

Having been laid off a few months ago has given me the opportunity to share meals with many friends and former co-workers, some who have been set free by their former employers, others who are still “gainfully employed.”

This particular friend still very much had “a job,” yet I could sense a certain something every time we spoke about our past, present and our yet-to-be-revealed future in the business world.

“I don’t want to do just anything,” she said.  “I want it to count.”

One of my greatest temptations when I was laid off was to avoid jumping back to work in the industry I’ve called home for most of my career.  I have been a journalist since the tender age of 7, when I tore out sheets from a loose leaf binder, wrote a few sentences in large letters (headlines), scribbled some words (articles), drew a couple of stick figures (photos), and called it a newspaper.

My Aunt Cary bought a copy for 10 cents.  I was not only a journalist, I was a marketer!

Journalism is in my DNA.  Words flow through me to feed my soul as much as I hope they feed the souls of those who read them.  I have a minor in English.  I am that annoying person who will correct your grammar during dinner or happy hour, without even realizing I’m doing it.

But after a long and satisfying career as a television news journalist, something felt a bit off.  My love and passion for journalism had not wavered.  But the daily routine of finding new and interesting ways to cover the same stories day in and day out lacked purpose.  Quite frankly, I no longer had the desire to find the answer to questions like “How are we going to make crime relevant so people care about those stories?”

I already knew the answer.  We can’t.  Because they don’t.

It just didn’t seem to count anymore.

That’s why having  been given wings to fly was very refreshing. But in all honesty, a bit unsettling.

The hardest part about “not working” is that you’re suddenly handed the blank canvas you’ve always longed for, and you have absolutely no idea what to paint on it.

Scary?  You bet.

Maybe you find yourself in the same situation.  Maybe your employer gave you your wings to fly.  And maybe you’ve been doing everything you thought you should do to get your next “job” but the Universe won’t cut you a break.

So after hitting a few dead ends and not having anything you put out there come to fruition, you’re left with no choice but to let go.  Surrender and trust that the seeds you’ve planted in the past need time to settle into the soil before they bloom into the person you were meant to be, and the purpose you were put here to fulfill.

In the meantime, relax.  Do the things you wanted to do but never had the chance to do when you “had a job.”  You never know when a conversation … sometimes with a complete stranger … will lead to your next opportunity.

One day the opportunity to make a difference will come your way.  That opportunity may be in the form of several smaller opportunities strung together to give you the sense of purpose you’ve been craving …  A chance to break out of the routine which seemed so comfortable but was slowly sucking the life out of you.  (OK, maybe that’s a bit drastic, but I’ve never been one to be shy about getting straight to the point.)

And that day you’ll realize that the Universe was smarter than you all along.  And you’ll thank Her for not allowing you to settle for anything less than making it count.

My friends … go out there and do what you can’t and make it count.  I hope this little video inspires you to do so.

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