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  • Are You Striving For Stuff Or Are You Striving For Peace And Personal Fulfillment?
  • Post author
    Stacy Mikulik

Are You Striving For Stuff Or Are You Striving For Peace And Personal Fulfillment?

Are You Striving For Stuff Or Are You Striving For Peace And Personal Fulfillment?

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I wanted to talk about a shift in mindset that happened for me when I quit my lawyer job and started grace + hudson. It's something that is so simple, I can't believe I didn't notice it sooner. This shift has had a huge impact on how I look at my goals and how I prioritize my time. If you're stuck in a job you don't like (even if you're really good at it!) this journal entry is for you. This might be one of the keys that can help you unlock the door to your next, more fulfilling career.

Let's get right to it. The mindset shift that happened for me was this - am I striving for STUFF or am I striving for PEACE AND PERSONAL FULFILLMENT? Now, let me back up for one quick second before we dive into this. I wouldn't call myself a materialistic person or someone who owns a lot of luxury items - in fact, I don't think I own even one item from Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. But I still found this mindset shift to be life-changing for me. So before you say, hey, I'm not really into "name brand" things and therefore this isn't applicable to me, keep on reading.

Back when I was a lawyer, just a few short years ago, I unconsciously was striving for STUFF. A good job, a promotion, a pay raise, a nice apartment, savings in the bank, contributions to my 401(k), etc, etc. I say unconsciously because I never really stopped to think about why I was working so hard. I just followed. Followed what everyone else was doing, followed what people in my profession were doing, followed what I was "supposed" to do as a graduate of a top law school and Ivy League college. 

When I left that world - you know, the world of corporate America and traditional office jobs - and started doing things on my own, I had to start forming goals and making long-term decisions for myself. Meaning, I no longer had a figurative "checklist" handed to me by a boss or superior as to what I was "supposed" to be striving for (i.e. a promotion, pay raise, etc). It wasn't long before I noticed something that felt pretty pathetic and sad - I had never sat down and really thought about what I want for myself. Instead, I was just adopting these figurative checklists as my own. I thought, "Could this be why I've been so unhappy?"

You'll notice something on these corporate America "checklists" - they're all about STUFF. Acquiring the best performance review score, the biggest pay raise, the next promotion, the internal awards, etc. There is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING about acquiring personal fulfillment and satisfaction. Think about it, when was the last time your boss asked you, "Stacy, do you feel in alignment with your career? With the path you're on? Do you feel a sense of personal fulfillment? If not, how can I help you get there? Do you feel at peace with your work-life balance and feel like you are at a good place in your work and personal life?" For me, that was a big fat NEVER.

This leads us - often blindly - to pursue a lot of material goals to the exclusion of intangible, often more important goals. I don't know about you, but I worked at some pretty big law firms and the checklist of goals involved getting a promotion, a nice car, a house in the nice part of the city, getting married with a big engagement ring, etc. And when you "grow up" sorta speak in this world and haven't been exposed to any other career or job, it's hard not to fall in line and strive to acquire these things, too. I mean, afterall, it's what I'm "supposed" to do, right? Everyone else is doing it. I guess that means it's what I'm "supposed" to be striving for? 

When I left the legal profession, I realized how highly inaccurate this was. And I felt pretty sad about it. How had I missed something so glaring? How had I gone down this path without even realizing it? How had I not realized sooner that I was so unhappy because I was (a) pursuing mostly tangible things to the total neglect of more important internal things and personal goals and (b) pursuing someone else's version of "success" without even knowing what my own personal definition of the word meant?

I slowly shifted into a new mindset which, I can basically sum up as this: a shift from focusing on tangible things to intangible things. Instead of working towards getting that nice, new car I now want to work hard towards achieving an awesome work-life balance that leaves me feeling energized, fulfilled, and at peace in all the right ways. It's funny, but now that I do work that fulfills me on a soul-level, I find that I don't need the after-work shopping trips (and other purchases) quite so much. Looking back, I think I "treated myself" to all that stuff because I felt pretty unfulfilled on the inside. You know how it goes - I was trying to fill that hole with things like new shoes - and we all know that thrill only lasts for a short while. The only thing that can fill that whole is doing the inner work and finding out what truly fills it up in a healthy manner. For you that might mean a new position, or a new career, or maybe just a shift in goals. The answer is different for everyone.

This brings me to my last point. We go to these great schools, and get these great degrees, and we are programmed to choose from one or two or maybe three different career paths. There's different reasons for this which I won't get into here, but remember that we're all different. No two of us is built the same. Not even twins! Think about that. Yet we're all supposed to fit onto these narrow career pathways? It's not right. And it's what has a lot of very talented people feeling very trapped, very unfulfilled, and very unhappy with their day-to-day lives.

So, I challenge you to a sit down like the one I had. Where you truly unplug from the career goals you're programmed to have and write down what YOU want for your life and how your career fits into that. I bet you'll find some things on that list that you can't buy. You can't buy work-life balance at the store. You can't buy a sense of inner peace at the mall. You can't buy personal fulfillment online. But yet I believe those are the things we should be striving for most and, when you do, you'll find you need less and less stuff in your shopping cart to help fill the hole.

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  • Post author
    Stacy Mikulik

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