Thursday, October 25, 2012

Finding Your ‘Sweet Spot’

Last week I was telling someone about how much I enjoy my job, that as a journalist every day I’m able to engage in a challenging and intriguing variety of writing projects, including books, magazine articles, website content, a weekly email workplace meditation, and blogs.

“Sounds like you’ve found your sweet spot,” he responded.

Finding your "sweet spot," whether
in tennis, golf - or life - can make
all the difference in how things turn out.
It’s been years since I played tennis, but the term sounded right. I knew when I hit the sweet spot on my racquet – which was infrequent – I had a good chance of having the ball go exactly where I intended. In a similar way, after decades of training, experience, success and failure, I believe God has taken my career exactly where He’s intended for it to go.

Sadly, not everyone can say the same. In fact, studies indicate more than half of all workers dislike or even dread their jobs. They show up each day because they need to pay the bills, not because they want to be there. “Work is a necessary evil,” the mantra informs us. For many people, that seems true, but it doesn’t have to be.

In The Heart of Mentoring, the book David Stoddard and I co-authored, we talk about aligning passion with work. What lights your inner fire? What pursuits infuse you with enthusiasm and energy? Or to borrow my new friend’s words, “What’s your sweet spot?”

Once you’ve identified that, you can try to match those things with your work in some way, either by redefining your job responsibilities or setting a goal of finding a new job that more closely relates to the things you’re most passionate about.

I understand in today’s uncertain economy, with limited employment options, that’s easier said than done. But I can’t think of many things more debilitating than having to pull yourself out of bed day after day and getting ready for a job you hate. Do you think Thomas Edison got up each morning and muttered, “Do I have to mess with light bulbs again”? Or Mother Teresa grumbled, “Another day of fussing with poor, dying people”? Or Michelangelo complained, “I don’t think I can stand painting another ceiling or sculpting another statue”?

They, and many others we could name, found their own “sweet spots.” Whether they recognized it or not, they had discovered God’s calling on their lives and pursued it with gusto, determination and passion.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But how do I find my sweet spot?” or “I know my sweet spot, but there’s no place for it where I work right now.” I can appreciate your frustration, even discouragement. There have been times in my career when I felt the same way.

However, I firmly believe God has a special, individualized plan for each of us – including the work we do. If we’re willing to include Him in this quest to link our passions with what we do for a livelihood, He’ll guide us in the right direction. After all, we have promises like these from the Scriptures:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4-5).

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).

There you have it: Delight in the Lord, first and foremost, and commit your work to Him, seeking to honor Him through it. If you do that, He’ll do one of two things – direct you to a different job, more suited for what He designed you to do, or transform your attitude toward the job you have so you’ll start to regard it as a blessing rather than a curse.

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