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How to explore your genius with volunteer projects

Dream careers begin with voluntary work

When you discover a line of work that draws upon your passions, natural talents, and work/life experiences, your higher self immediately recognizes the opportunity as divine destiny, like all of who you are on the inside and all of what you've experienced has come together leading you to this very moment. It is magical - not only have you uncovered your genius, you've truly encountered your divine calling.

We don't always see the world, however, through the eyes of our higher selves. More realistically, when I talk to individuals who are looking at a dream career opportunity, they experience it from their more fearful selves. And what I see is resistance rather than embracing the opportunity. Have you ever had something amazing is in front of you and your first instinct is to say: "no, not me" or "no, not now." In this scenario, I often think of the first Rocky movie. Most people forget that Rocky - a no-name club fighter making a living as a loan shark - was approached with the opportunity of a lifetime to fight for the heavyweight championship title, and at first he said no. See the scene here:

In these particular situations, the reason people say no is that they experience a form of Imposter Syndrome - they say, "I'd love to do that, but I'm not qualified." This is a career path they want to pursue but they reject it because their internal examination says they're not ready.

When advising someone in a state of resistance like this my advice is always: Test It! In other words, go out into the world and share your genius - your talents, passions, and experiences in a less risky way than pursuing the dream job. A great way to test your skills and see how you like and take to a new area or higher level work is to get involved with a nonprofit or advocacy group doing voluntary work. Groups like these need so much help! They need people on the ground making phone calls, mentoring, and teaching skill sets. They also need high level thinkers doing visioning, strategy, and pulling in resources. Opportunities are endless, especially for someone willing to be resourceful.

Testing your skills through voluntary work to learn if you are qualified for your dream career is especially helpful if you would love to be a change maker or activist through your job. I can attest because voluntary work is what led me to my dream career at age 30 to lead a non-profit organization in the work of advancing women and girls in the professional world. (Read my career story here.) And, more recently over the past 2 and a half years, I've been doing this testing again. This time at a more advanced stage of my career, I am bringing together my natural talents as an advocate, writer and speaker, my work experience as an attorney and community builder, and my passion for reforming the legal system. All of this together adds up to voluntary work I've been doing in the Restorative Justice movement in an effort to discover and open doors to consulting opportunities as an activist and strategist.

So, if you've identified a dream career area to be a change maker toward equality, justice, peace or whatever speaks to your heart, stop saying you'd love to do something but you're not qualified or you can't find the time. Get involved! It's simpler than you might think, especially if this is your divine destiny. When it is your calling, doors open with ease! You can start by setting an intention to do voluntary work to test out your skills. Write down your intention to explore this voluntary work as your dream career in your 2019 Career Vision and add it to your Vision Board. Also, if you're in Chicago, come hear me speak at the Conscious Activism event happening on Friday January 25, 2019 at Bodhi Spiritual Center. (Conscious Activism event info here). Once you've set your intention and created your vision, then follow the wise advice of activist and change maker Martin Luther King, Jr: “Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Spiritual Practice: Lovingkindness Meditation

Mahatma Gandhi said: "Be the change you wish to see in this world." If you're feeling called toward work that creates more love and kindness for others, you can begin by cultivating that sense of love and kindness within yourself. A great way to build this energy from the inside out is to do a lovingkindness metta meditation. In this type of meditation, you direct loving energy and positive wishes toward yourself as follows:

"May I be well."

"May I be happy."

"May I be free from suffering."

Then, in a sequence of expansion you direct this energy and these words towards somebody you love, then somebody you are neutral towards, then somebody you have difficulty with, and ultimately toward all beings everywhere without distinction.

You can try out this type of meditation through the Insight Timer App. I recommend the 5-minute and 26-minute practices by Bodhipaksa. I personally practice the 26-minute version once a week during acupuncture treatments when I am already scheduled to be in stillness. Access the meditations here:

Lovingkindness (5 mins) - link here

Developing Lovingkindness (26 mins) - link here

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