Many people hate their work. I used to dread mine, even though it was possibly the funnest job in the world. It involved what I call “eating and sleeping around.” For 18 years as a travel writer I went to spectacular places, ate delicious cuisine, slept in often-luxurious hotels, did fun activities like hike in rainforests and attend cooking schools, and wrote about it.
For the first dozen years, it was my dream life. I was blessed to take road trips to every corner of New Mexico, and to journey to Provençe, Tuscany, Costa Rica and other amazing places. I wrote for The New York Times, Audubon and Frommer’s Travel Guides, among others.
Over time, though, I lost interest in travel, and my body started failing. I developed allergies to foods and laundry detergents, and suffered from a sleeping disorder. Because of this, my life became a pathetic comedy of trying to manage my health while still doing my job.
I would take pain killers to ease my headaches and sleeping pills to calm my body’s agitation in the night. I would cry when the drugs didn’t work, afraid I would botch the assignment. I even hired an “eater” to come with me on one culinary trip. For days, she sat across from me in restaurants and feasted on three courses, while I nibbled on a salad.
The problem was I couldn’t step away from the job. I have a tough time letting go of things that at one time really worked. In truth, though, we are meant to let go. We are meant to exhaust our jobs, our hobbies, our relationships and even our spiritual teachers. Sometimes they can transform with us, but often we have to make the break. I have done just that, and now, once again, I love my work, and my health is returning. Here is how I did it:
Focused My Attention
Loved My Job Even When I Hated It
Surrendered and Asked for Guidance
Lived My Dream
1. Focused My Attention For me, a daily spiritual exercise is always step one because it is the root of all spiritual change. It focuses our attention on love, so the physical world and all its imperatives become less real. We see the dream that the world is. When I admitted to myself that I needed to shift my work, my mind told me it was impossible because it believed that my sustenance came from travel writing.
Day after day, I woke and did my morning reading, which centers on the writings of my spiritual teacher, Sri Gary Olsen www.masterpath.org. The poems of the great mystical masters such as Rumi and Hafiz can also lift my spirits enough to bring in a higher view of life, so that new possibilities can appear.
After each practice, I would see the truth: all my sustenance comes from the Divine. My job is to channel that love, energy and money into activities that serve the highest cause possible. This focus allowed me to begin to imagine a new calling.
2. Loved My Work Even When I Hated It This step involves giving with gratitude. In the last year of my travel writing, I was still attached to the job. It was time for me to update a guidebook, which requires six months of full-on eating and sleeping around. Rather than do it parsimoniously, the way I had the past few times—bringing an “eater,” and taking day trips when possible rather than stay in hotels—I decided to be All In. I chose to serve my readers to the fullest of my ability and to do so with gratitude for the opportunity.
I packed a big bottle of sleeping pills and a box of Alka-Seltzer and hit the road. I did the job wholly, trusting the Divine to keep me safe. I took long trips, staying at different hotels every night, ate duck in Madeira sauce, chocolate crème brûlée and drank red wine. It was a blast, though I suffered from a perpetual headache and stomach distress.
By throwing myself completely into the job, I exhausted it. The extremes of pleasure and pain wore down my attachment. When it was finished, I looked back as though on a battle scene and said “I’m done.”
3. Surrendered and Asked for Guidance The desire to shift jobs is really an effect of a change in consciousness that has already happened within. While I was shifting my work, whenever I wondered what to do, I released the question to the Divine. That put my mind in a random state, so that I could hear. Many flashes came in. I would teach travel writing courses or write a travel blog. But each idea would die within a day or two. For the first time in 30 years as a working writer, I did not know what to write. So I wrote nothing (except for my work assignments), and kept asking.
One night I had a dream. I stood before a shelf full of big, important books. I reached up and pulled one out. When I opened it, I found my own spiritual journal. My new job was what I had been writing all along.
4. Lived My Dream Job In order to create any new reality, we have to step into it and live it, even if only an hour a day. I had blogged a little in the past and readers enjoyed what I wrote. So I began again. I simply started doing it.
As well as investing time in my new endeavor, I invested money. Years ago, when I quit teaching college writing to become a travel writer, I cashed in my retirement account to fund my first year, money that multiplied exponentially. For my current job, I have invested savings as well. True spiritual masters and successful entrepreneurs don’t wait around for someone to fund their causes. They step into their creations, invest themselves, and thus the creations take form.
Now I can’t wait to get up in the morning to do my job. When people ask me what I do, I say, “I blog and write books about spirituality.” Every time I say that, I feel the power of my focus ripple across this dream of a life. My writings are part of a book called Every Moment a Vacation that will be available in 2013.
This physical world is a malleable dream. We can step into it and, with Divine help, fashion it to support our highest calling.
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Hi Lesley. Wow! Your ability to discern and clearly articulate the subtle workings of the Shabda
in your day-to-day experiences is so inspiring. Thank you for heeding the inner call to share your gifts!
Thank you, Dan. I so appreciate you reading and commenting. Each day I feel more of the wonderful, invincible current flow through me, fueling my new intention. This path is such a ride!
Wonderful post, Lesley. It is clear you are divinely in-joying this path and inspiring others as well. What a gift! ~ Elsa
Thank you, Elsa. I so appreciate you reading this. We are so guided, when we listen! Many blessings.
I love reading your posts, Lesley. This post on moving from one work to another is especially relevant for me as I move my work from therapist to artist. The steps you outlined are the very ones I am in the midst of. I feel so blessed knowing that there is something far greater and wiser than my mind in this new creation.
Thank you for sharing these snapshots of your journey.
Sage, I so appreciate you reading and commenting. Yes, we are fortunate to have such powerful guidance! From what I have seen of your new journey, you are on the right track. You are taking charge of not only your art but of channeling that art out to the world. And it is a beautiful expression of Divine love.
What a wonderful post.
First of all, being a travel writer has long been a secret ambition of mine. By reading what you wrote, I feel like you’ve done it for me and I’ve been able to see to the end, where it no longer works. I can release any regret I may have about never fulfilling that dream and honor my own inner wisdom that kept me from following that path.
Even more, I really appreciate the honesty of your writing and the courage of what you have done. You provide not only inspiration. but guidance for the rest of us.
Qatana, thank you for your wonderful note. You have a beautiful fluidity to your writing and such insight you could write amazingly about travel, I’m sure. Your blog readers would probably love to hear about any travels you take, especially filtered through your conscious awareness. It would be a lot more fun for you than the slogging that travel writers have to do for magazines and guidebooks.
Bravo, Lesley! I love watching you emerge so fully and graciously into your new life. Your writing is so beautiful and moving, and I am beyond thrilled that you are stepping into it wholeheartedly. You are taking brave action – following the path of what you were born to do in the way you are meant to do it. Such an inspiration. Thank you. ♥
Thank you, Jodi. Your journey with claiming your calling so inspires me. It is wonderful how we can support each other!
As always your writings bring a tear of joy and so much inspiration for me. I’ve been questioning what’s “wrong with me” for feeling so done with my job. To view it as an effect of a change of consciousness is so very uplifting…I’m feeling my energies rise!
Thank you for being a channel and serving the Divine.
Lori, I’m so happy to hear from you. You have been in my conscious awareness a lot lately. You have so much to share. However you choose to do it will be completely supported. Remember His quote: “I will support you!”
What a beautiful post! I think many are in this situation right now. With so much uncertainty surrounding so many, they too are asking, “what do I do?”. In an age of instant gratification i think it is important to know that answers do come, and although it may not be as fast as an email, you must remember to tune out the static long enough to HEAR and SEE the change. Great job!
Thank you, Amanda. So true. For me, as I come to see more and more fully that I AM the creator of my reality, the more power I have to direct into my most beloved calling.
Hello from an old friend,
I’m so glad I came across your blog Lesley. I am contemplating a job shift after 25 years in the marketing and advertising business. Your words are very encouraging and inspiring. I’m happy for you and your new personal journey.