photography of dirt road surrounded by trees

Navigating the Road Back to Eden

Little less than a year ago, I talked about leaving the Garden of Eden. I was talking about work and how my ego took me out of a place of abundance. I was very comfortable in this place, but the need for more took me on a journey.

This blog is simply a blog on how to get back to that place, but first some context. If you’re familiar with the biblical origins story, Adam and Eve are cursed when leaving Eden. The curse given to Adam was the curse of hard work. That’s not to say that Adam and Eve didn’t work when they were in the garden. Quite the contrary, when Adam was created cultivate and keep the land. The whole garden, Adam had to upkeep. That sounds like hard work. What’s the difference between working in the garden, and working outside the garden. The work outside the garden causes frustration and eventually depression because it was meaningless work. Meaningless work is the curse. To find Eden is to find work that is full of meaning and fulfillment. This becomes a blessing into itself because of how hard it is to do.

The Compass for the Journey

So the question is how, do I, how do we get back into the garden? How do we find nirvana and peace in our work since it’s so much of what we do? In my quest to find my garden, I’m finding that meaningful work regardless of title and regardless of pay. I hope that’s what people are looking for when they are leaving their jobs in this great migration. These are the things that I’m looking to do in my career to create meaningful work for myself. This is how the curse gets broken.

The first thing I need to do is define what it means to have meaningful work and what makes work meaningless. For myself, too often do I end work tired for stress. It’s really hard to figure the one thing that causes this stress. Throughout the day, we are hit so many micro-stresses including things like disagreeing with a coworker, or not being able to meet a deadline or goal. These all add up to a very long day. It feels like the expression, death by a million paper cuts.

Know Who You Are

One thing I’ve learned in this pandemic is to make sure that I value myself and my free time. Like most of us, when I got done with work, I would go to the gym and then maybe watch television. I wasn’t prioritizing creating and creativity because I spent so much time doing “work” that I didn’t have the energy creating the blogs you see today.

I still love to DJ, and I still love to write poetry. In order to create meaningful work, I have to make a concerted effort in making sure I prioritize these things over lounging around with low energy. Work no longer defines me. Having these thoughts and the opportunity to write them down makes me who I am. The opportunity to put feelings into words that other people can agree with makes me who I am. My interest in helping people become who they are, not who people tell them to be makes me who I am. No marketing campaign in hopes that someone would buy product could do that for me. I am more than just a digital marketer.

Another thing that I value is an environment that will allow me to be me within the collective. I understand the need for company culture, but I don’t want that culture to completely hide who I am as an individual. I write about this all the time, so I don’t see too much of a need to go too much into detail.

Impacting the Lives of People

The next thing I need to do to create meaningful work is to understand what impact I’m making. I work in digital marketing and the biggest motivation to just about all we do is revenue. I’m not motivated by money. With whatever that I do, I want to make sure that I’m creating an impact that bigger than myself and bigger than a company making more money. I think I would need to be reminded of the impact that my work has on the person viewing my work. I would want to prioritize people over profit and make sure that the things that I do are for the benefit of humanity, even if it means losing potential revenue. That also means working in a company and with team members who care about people and won’t put to goals of the company over the impact it could have to them.

More Than Just Coworkers

Not only would I feel fulfilled that I’m positively affecting the lives outside the walls of the office. I would love knowing that I can help my fellow coworkers. The only caveat to this again is motivation. I’m happy to help anyone when the motivation of the help comes from love. However, if the motivation comes from fear, I have bad response to wanting to put it any effort to achieve anything based in fear. One of the biggest fear motivations is the fear of not reaching a goal. An arbitrary goal doesn’t serve much of a purpose rather than meeting the expectations of the company. These are things that I cannot get excited for. In contrast, I love being a mentor to anyone who need guidance with their work, or throughout the company. If someone needs help doing a task, they simply can’t do alone, I’m the one to call. Being self centered will never get me back into Eden, so I have to make sure that I’m willing to help with love being the motivation.

More important than helping my colleagues and coworkers is building a relationship with the people I see every day. By relationship, I don’t mean a transactional relationship. A relationship in which if scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine. Once conversations go beyond what needs to be done, and don’t feel forced like at the beginning of a meeting, that’s when true connection begins. I want to be appreciative of the people I work with. Not because of the work that we do, but because who they are as people. That’s one of things that I had and truly miss the most.

Seeing the Trees

This journey has definitely been a bumpy road. I have to be grateful because it’s been a bumpy road to better. Each self reflection gets me closer and closer to my values and what I want in life. It allows me to have have a wider perspective so I can not only think about myself, but the people I affect with the energy that I put into my work. Reflection also allows me to think about how I can help those who work closely with me. If I can be myself and make an impact the people around me, I will be back in Eden.