“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.”
I’ve been doing a great deal of reading lately on how having a purpose in life and how this contributes to our happiness, and in turn, to our longevity. Having a profession where you actually feel as though you are making a contribution to society as a whole is a clear example of having a purpose. This can be well defined through just about any profession. If you are committed to what you do and have a passion for it, this will ultimately contribute to your happiness.
As teachers we know what our purpose is, and since we have chosen teaching as a profession, gone through years of schooling and have made a conscious decision that instead of enjoying early financial gain as you might see in other professions, we would instead be rewarded with nurturing the intellectual growth of our students.
I think that it would be safe to say that we all enter education because we have the desire to impart our knowledge and love of our subject matter to the kids in the communities where we teach. To not only see the intellectual growth in the year that we may have them, but also as they make their way through our colleagues classes as well. The point is that they will see our passion and maybe, just maybe, they will take with them when they leave a life long love for learning.
On the island of Okinawa, Japan, they refer to this as “ikigai”, or a reason for getting up in the morning. This reason, or purpose is what keeps us centered.
But what happens when external, or for that matter, internal factors enter into the equation and stifle the sense of purpose that we have? What happens when a profession such as teaching becomes “just another job”? I don’t know many teachers who have chosen the profession for the paycheck, and the ever present myth of having all of the time off is well, still a myth.
Where am I going with this? Recent events have shown me that although we may have a very clear sense of purpose, from time to time our resolve is tested and when a situation may set up roadblocks that cloud our purpose, or to question it, then it is up to no one but ourselves to balance things out and keep moving on a forward and productive path. Most times it isn’t our love for teaching, or our passion for what we do that comes into question, instead it is those other factors that prove to contribute to our downfall and for us to lose our focus.
So what do we need to do to regain or maintain the balance? The external factors in our life are sometimes easier to correct than those that are internal. Often times internally we do not have any say in decisions that are made that “mess with our mojo.” But we still have to keep moving.
I have some thoughts. One thing that has proven to be incredibly helpful to me is to have other things that you are equally as passionate about and that you can share with others. If you are reading this, then you are well versed on my love for hiking and in turn, my blogging about it. You might also know about my love of building things, not so professionally, but a love none the less. These two things truly keep me grounded so I am not consumed with the daily drama associated with work.
Second, having a core group of colleagues that you can depend on is vital. Now I don’t necessarily mean people that we can just blindly bitch to one another about what we don’t like, but people who will listen and offer constructive advice and support as we meander through our daily work lives. Think about it-We sometimes spend more time interacting with our colleagues every day than we do our husbands, wives and significant others.
Teachers have a unique sense of community that in my humble opinion, can’t be matched by many other professions. We are not driven by money or other material factors, but instead the passing off to others a love of teaching and our specific subject areas. Think about the teachers that you loved the most. Why did you love them? What did they do in the classroom to convey their love for what they do?
Don’t get to a point where you don’t know why you get up in the morning.