Easy as 1,2,3
If I were to ask you what motivated you in life, what would you say? Is it something you've given much thought to or perhaps you've never taken the time to analyze what motivated you and why? What if I were to ask you what motivated you in your career field? Do you know why you are pursuing the work that you are? Perhaps it is a field that you happened to fall into and it just seemed to work for the time being? I believe too many of us in the world today suffer from what I see as a lack of intentional living. We have vague dreams that make us excited when we think of them, but they sadly retain their dreamland citizenship, never moving to the real world where the rubber hits the road. And while our hopes and expectations lie in unreachable euphoria, we find ourselves trapped in a reality that we never intended, never planned, never wanted. No matter how much effort is poured into our work, no matter how much we muscle through the mire of tasks that leaves us unfulfilled, we still feel something is lacking.
So why is this? What's the difference between Jack the contractor who lacks joy or fulfillment in his work, and Joe the garbage man who simply loves the purpose he holds in society? As author Any Stanley put so beautifully, "Everyone ends up somewhere in life. Some people end up somewhere on purpose." I know that, at the end of my life, I personally don't want to look back at the trail I chose, wishing I had ended up at a different destination. I believe that to live intentionally you must start with introspection. Instrospection is simply the act of examining one's own thoughts and feelings. The ancient Greeks championed the motto "Know Thyself", and it's imperative place in creating a life of discovery and fulfillment is just as relevant to us as it was to them.
I was recently forced to better understand myself as I struggled with choices in where to pursue my passions in the profession of architecture. As I was still pursuing my college degree, the options were fairly limitless. I knew that certain ideas and projects made me feel good and excited, but I didn't understand why or how to channel that information through a useful conduit that would guide me in my own decision-making process. But over the course of time that I intentionally spent in architectural internships, being mentored, reading, and general observation, I slowly began nailing down what it was that made me excited in life and what I needed to pursue if I was to achieve fulfillment in my career. I finally came to a point where I could name three primary motivators in my professional life. Allow me to expound:
MISSION: At the heart of all of my professional aspirations is a desire to accomplish change that make the world better according to my values and how I view the world. My heart is to utilize design and creativity to promote and edify what I believe to hold the greatest value to society and our world as a whole such as education, community connection, missions work, and empowering the impoverished, just to name a few.
QUALITY: Settling in life is easy, and its something I never want to do. I want every work that I pour my creative energy into to be a direct embodiment of the best I have to offer this world. I believe that quality is not merely found in the highest budget project, the most technologically advanced structure, or even the building with the most glass, steel and concrete (not that there's anything wrong with these materials, I might add). Rather I consider quality work to be that which is expressive of emotion, meaning and beauty that transcends what is found in our ordinary environment through the implementation of timeless principles, a holistic approach to the work, and a creative efficiency that maximizes all available resources to their fullest capacity.
ADVENTURE: After my mere 24 laps around the sun, I've come to realize that I have an insatiable desire for adventure. I can't resist trying new foods, I get bored with my hairstyle if I keep it longer than six months, and I find almost nothing more enjoyable that traveling and exploring the world. I'm no adrenaline junkie, but my need for new and exciting things to do is simply a part of who I am, and is something that I know I must incorporate into my career if I am to truly be fulfilled with what I do.
Pursuing intentional living can look like a lot of different things to different people. I can only attest to the tools and strategies that work for me as I have pursued my own dreams and visions in life and how I hope to create something tangible from the intangible. If you would allow me to take my previous personification example one step further, I would encourage everyone to pursue a metaphorical dual citizenship for their dreams, for a vision cut off from its ethereal homeland is as fruitless as one caged in a metaphysical fairy tale. Provide yourself the framework you need to give existential life to your aspirations, as I did with my three professional motivators, while never losing sight of the passion that gave birth to them in the first place. While many will try to convince you that only a week-long session with a certified life coach will help you figure out how to live out your dreams, I refer back to Socrates when I say to simply "Know Thyself". For me, the framework I developed to discover my dream was three simple words. Who knows, maybe for you it might also be as easy as 1,2,3.