Three meetings, three men, over three weeks with a very interesting connection – they all had their hearts set on very different careers than what they were currently doing. These men who had spent anywhere from four to twenty years in corporate roles, were now unemployed and found themselves struggling with the decision – what comes next. They had filled their pockets with careers in finance, sales, and social media.   However, their souls were filled from working with their hands and hearts.

With each of these men there was a tremendous shift in our conversation when they went from discussing their jobs to describing their passions. Who they had become when talking about their passions was so profound that I would have thought different men had entered the room. They transformed from men guarded about their jobs to men who came alive when sharing the meaningful work they loved.  

The new client I met with today could barely explain in any detail, let alone any registered level of interest or excitement, what he was doing over the last four years for an investment firm. Trying to develop his resume into a meaningful and marketable document was a struggle, with few facts and fewer feelings. There was only one noticeable number within his success bullets.  That alone is a telltale sign to me of limited engagement in his work.

Then there was a shift; as he was leaving, he stopped, turned back to me and started to talk about the home he was remodeling. A smile crossed his face as he provided detail upon detail about the five layers of paint on the kitchen cabinets, the dated bathroom tile, and the too thin hardwood flooring that sadly had to be replaced. The excitement in his tone and the engagement in his body language was evidence that he was excited talking about his passion, not his profession. In transforming a 60-year-old house that was once occupied by a 100-year-old lady into something new, he was filling his soul. Then he told me what he really wanted me to know: remodeling homes is what he really wants to do with the rest of his life.  

It is so hard for me to watch.  To see these three men so passionate about work that they do, just not the work that they are spending 40-50 hours a week doing.    To hear them give explicit detail about their brisket recipe, crown molding, and new wide plank hardwood floors, yet have little to say that they feel is interesting or important about their careers. Moving from pocketbook work to soul work is a risk, a major risk. It is not for the faint of heart because it is a leap of faith.  It is faith in themselves, faith in the value of what they can produce with their hands and heart, and faith that the marketplace will pay the true value for the cost of producing their passions.   

My question is, what is the risk of doing work that fills your pockets and empties your soul?  What is the risk of staying in a job that you find boring, monotonous and unremarkable?  What is the risk of putting your dreams on hold, listening to naysayers who say you can’t make a living doing what you love?   The risk is that after dedicating 4 or 50 years to a “job,” you can end up losing yourself along the way. And that unfortunately is a risk that too many of us are willing to take.