Honestly, these three traps are not graded by intensity or survey preference. The trap (or traps) you recognize for yourself may be in a different priority order than mine. The information, awareness, and resolution, however, are not dependent on the order! I just chose to write them in reverse order subjectively!
So let’s get started. Third Trap: The big “O” word!
It has the power to trap you in something you believed was right, but at a deeper level, in fact, you feel and know is not.
For many in business, your job and even career are driven by external influence, and in particular by the beliefs you have about what others expect of you.
Simply, you are trapped by…Obligation (dark anthemic music plays dramatically in background!)
Let’s start at the top, did you follow in your father or mother’s footsteps? Doing what they chose for you? Did you go to school because they knew what was best for you? Is there a doctor in the house? A lawyer? A ______ (fill in the blank)?
Or was it someone else that influenced you?
More on this in a moment.
Did you end up in your job as a logical choice, because of the input of someone close to you? Were you influenced and directed by a friend, family member, peer group, teacher?
Or, from a different perspective, did you find your current job as an innate calling from your soul? Not so much?
Likely you feel obligated to fulfill a role or a profession for many reasons, some of which often include satisfying another or others’ influence. Whether due to your educational upbringing (which also may have been influenced by an even earlier belief), or society rules, or even a feeling of obligation to some rule or belief we carry around, we often choose our careers and jobs without clear vision. Bottom line, our choices are often not made out of a clear calling or vision based in freedom.
You end up in a job that is a logical flow of steps from an external influence: because it pays well, has prospects for advancement, or it makes someone else happy. But you feel your destiny is something different or greater. Are you in that group?
Let’s get back to your parents and familial influence.
Obligation is also defined as duty, and the ones who have made perhaps the biggest impact on your career/job choice were your parents.
If you chose your career, or at least your area of work, because of your parents, it could have been in one of three distinct ways:
You either followed in a parent’s footsteps (usually your father), entering a career that matches or is similar to theirs.
You may have followed your parent’s guidance, influence or advice, taking on a career that you were guided into.
Or for the rebels among us, you rejected your parent’s guidance, influence and example, and chose a career completely different to what they wanted for us, out of rebellion.
This can happen consciously, or, as is usually the case, in an automatic response,
Whichever way it happens, in most cases, the career chosen is not your authentic choice, but an external influence or worse, out of reaction. Hardly a choice at all.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
The definition of obligation includes such words as compulsion and requirement. Lovely, aren’t they? How do these feel as a reason for working? Look good? Sound like fun? Not so nice, huh?
Obligation can be confused with, or feel more real than, our own free will. When we feel obligated, we feel attached, required to say yes. Often, we unconsciously agree with our obligation such that it is automatic. It’s one of the reasons the military works so well. There is an innate obligation to serve and sacrifice together that works in that organization.
How would the army work if all the troops there did their own thing and didn’t take orders? Are all the individuals there following their own preference? Are they truly exercising free will?
In my work with clients, I’ve found they feel regret or even a buried resentment and sadness for not living their true calling. Speaking for myself, when I became of the choices I had made, at first there was regret, and honestly, I didn’t immediately give all that up to follow my true calling. In fact it took several years, and relapses, so I am not saying it is easy. It is, however, a whole lot easier with support and guidance.
HOW CAN YOU USE THIS?
The simplest step is this: When you are moved to take an action, ask yourself if you feel obligated to do it.
On a larger scale, reflect on any sense of obligation you may have to your job, your boss, to your family?
Some obligations are innate and important – for example, to our families providing shelter, sustenance to our kids. Yet even within that, we have choice. Knowing that you have a choice is more than half the work. By simply knowing that you have chosen, you have reclaimed your power and ability to choose.
Home exercise? Oh, you thought this was just some light reading? No need to do any work? My intention with this series is to provide you both with some education, and some self-investigation so you can better see where you’ve been and where you can go. If you would rather continue your life as you have before, stop reading now, don’t go any further, and pretend you never read this!
If you are moved to take this deeper, I congratulate you and invite you to read on:
Sit down with your journal, some paper, or open a fresh document in your word processor if that works best for you.
Give yourself about 15-20 minutes to do this exercise. Take time to review each of these two questions, and write down any answers that come to you.
A) Where do I feel obligated?
B) What choices have I made in that situation.
Once you have completed this exercise, take some time later on to review what you wrote, and see if any deeper answers show up.
Review how much energy and effort you expend to maintain this status quo.
It’s OK, this review is for your eyes only, and I won’t leave you here!
More to come!
To your best life!