Oh, to serve a higher purpose!
It makes one’s work make sense. It brings a feeling of being exactly where you need to be.
This aspect of the Bliss Map has a strong conjunction with a sense of meaning and purpose.
And, it’s an easy one to miss.
Certainly, it’s a privilege to have a job that also aligns with one’s values about what the world needs.
In the 21st century, industries are complex. People work jobs, that enable other jobs, that enable people to somewhere else to do 1 thousandth of their work, and on and on. It’s common for our work to be a small part in a huge chain of global interplay. The big picture can often get lost.
Many folks look or wait for their ‘calling‘ and never find it. Many of us simply work to pay the bills, and where it fits in the large scheme of things is neither here nor there.
Try these questions:
- What would be a legacy I’d be totally jazzed to leave in the world?
- How will my being here on Earth have made a difference long after I’m gone?
- What deeply matters to me and the world?
- When I read the obituaries, read biographies, watch heroic movies, etc, what are the kinds of things that get me on the edge of my seat?
- When I tell people what I do, when do I feel a deep joy and pride in my contribution?
- What is precious to me and the world?
- If “work is love made visible,” then when is my love for the world evident and wonderful?
So why is it so important?
Well, for motivation, for sustainability, and…everything really. And employers are beginning to realize it.
We all possess our own unique world view. We hold values about the world; what is important, what is needed. And when we work in alignment with our values, we work better, happier, and longer.
Simply put, work is better when we know why we do it.
Working with our values serves some particular unique human needs. To list a few:
And what about when we’re also In Love with our work?
This is our ‘calling’. It might not be our job, per se, (not paid for it), and we may not even be good at it, but we feel compelled to do it. Maybe we’re inspired to do so from a sense of duty or moral value.
Some examples may be:
- Making food for homeless
How about when the World Needs It and we’re also Paid For It?
One might call that ‘Vocation’.
This element describes a job that directly serves a need in the world, and therefor has a job associated with it, which one fills.
With a vocation, one may not necessarily be good at the work or in love with it, but they’re likely to be dedicated, serving a need in the world and meeting their own basic needs by getting paid for it.
Some examples may be:
- A ‘Job’
- A CNA (Nurse’s Assistant)
- Retail (currently)
What isn’t visually explicit on the Bliss Map is the combination made by two opposite quadrants.
When the World Needs It and we’re Good At It, we can call it one’s Duty.
When one feels a duty, they feel an obligation to a need larger than themselves, because of how their skills or abilities fit within their framework of what the world needs.
Without concern for Loving It or Getting Paid For It, necessarily, one feels compelled to serve.
Some examples of one’s duty may be:
- Volunteer Firefighting
- Environmental Conservation
- Community Work
“I enjoy this job, although it doesn’t fit my skill-set. Things are going well, but it would make more sense for someone else to do it.”
At the end of the day, it’s rewarding to know you’re good at your work.
There are about 8 billion people in the world at the time of writing. People are becoming highly specialized. Competition is high, and it makes sense for that to be the case. Expertise is both more common and more needed now.
And, especially at a job, it can be a difficult feeling to shake that “This job is great for me, but my employer could definitely find someone more suited for this position.”
Some examples could be:
- overwhelmed teachers
- some tenured college professors
- working in recycling
- teaching arts (sometimes)
Of course, these are only possible examples, as it’s very case-by-case. This is a general guide.
If you relate to this scenario, you may sometimes struggle with unmet needs for security, competence, stability, contribution, etc.
And, there may be places outside of your job where you can exercise your expertise.
Hobbies are a common realm for people to follow a passion and, with practice, foster mastery.
Mastery is rewarding, and it can motivate us, even outside of where we use it.
For more on Mastery, check out this excellent book by Robert Greene.
The following examples are to highlight how different people, even under the same circumstances, have highly individualized profiles on the Bliss Map. There is no one way to live a good life.
People working the same job can have very different Bliss Maps.
Ericka is a high school teacher. She enjoys the job immensely, and flourishes within it. Not only is she serving future generations, but she is doing what she does best, and likes the process of teaching. Her salary isn’t half bad either. She’s living life well, full of joy, because he Bliss Map is full often.
Pennie is a high school teacher too. She got into this job because of the salary, and by knowing that is serves an important purpose. But she doesn’t love it. The day-to-day tasks really get to her, and it slows her down, affecting the quality of work. She’s going to need something else in her life that she’s good at and loves doing, or she’ll find another job soon.
Greg is a high school teacher who people trust. He earnestly loves his work, believes in the service of it, and does a fantastic job. But he is a single parent, so the salary doesn’t quite cut it. Luckily though, he has a side job selling things on eBay and it is working out. With the ‘Paid for It’ quadrant flickering, he may need to find other solutions some day. But for now it is working.
And people working different jobs can have similar Bliss Maps.
Jeremy is a trash collector. He loves how his work fits into society, and is happy to get paid. He loves driving around in the neighborhoods, too, and without having a sense of smell, is made for the job. So he’s content. But his back is having problems. He can’t do the job very well with this physical challenge. His Bliss Map is usually lacking the ‘Good At It’ quadrant.
Aneta works in sales for a large tech company. An impressive paycheck brought her to the job, and by a stroke of luck she’s loving her co-workers. Even the people she works with are friendly, as she’s selling medical software to hospitals. The only issue is that she can never make her deadlines. When she does, it’s like a missing piece in her Bliss Map drops into place, and all is well. But she is realizing that those times are rare.
Sam works at the local recycling plant. He is also simply not good at his job. Too many mistakes on the clock has him at risk of being fired. He’s content working there; he gets good pay, loves the work, and loves how it fits with his values. He is working on changing his role in a way that suits his skills a bit better.