One of the common advices an accompanying expat spouse receives in response to her/his concern about losing a career/job is this: “Enjoy your hobbies while you have this great chance. Look at what you love to do and do it.” It’s a great suggestion and many newly-unemployed expats have definitely found a peace of mind in taking up pottery, painting, writing, or stamp collection. Finally all of those things they’ve been meaning to do their entire lives were at their fingertips and they had time and resources to do them!
Then a few months later a few of us “impact-oriented” people (me included!) started to wonder. So here I am painting away (or writing or creating pottery or sewing) and isn’t this the time when I am supposed to be getting really good at this — my new craft, professionally-speaking? I mean I’ve always been successful at my work, I’ve advanced and made more money in my career almost every year so isn’t this the time to start booking galleries or creating my fall fashion line? And if not, then why am I doing this? Why am I spending all this time and resources on doing something that’ll never create any impact in the outside world and will never make me money?
This is when the old familiar voice of doubt starts getting louder. Maybe this new painting I am making is going to be really bad. Should I change this color or should I add this color or should I… just quit the whole thing and do what I am good at — find work and immediately begin putting in 60-hrs weeks to catch up on what I’ve missed? The hobby I’ve taken suddenly takes the form of some race I am supposed to win and every day I am more and more afraid to screw up the canvas.
Has anything like that happen to you? It certainly has happened to me — and it continues to happen once in awhile.
What do I do?
I go back to a great metaphor my coach and I created.
I see myself as a child playing in a sandbox, building a castle. The castle isn’t coming out the way I’ve wanted and so I level it to the ground. “It’s just sand,” I hear my child say and begin to build the castle again. Playing is the main point here.
Allowing yourself to play is the biggest gift and the biggest learning — and that learning comes from our inner children that we’ve forgotten with all our career and impact aspirations. So how about making play the central part of whatever we are doing and remembering that it’s just sand?
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