Is Your Job a Path With a Heart?

 Trail in Temperate Rainforest

This post was originally posted in March of 2010.

Being a hypnotherapist and  small business coach is the longest job I’ve held, now going on 10 years and without a doubt, the most fulfilling job I’ve had.  My story is one where I’ve had a lot of jobs. I used to feel bad about moving from job to job so often, and for not being able to decide about what I wanted to do. I used to really beat myself up at times.

In my search for meaningful work, I have sold books door to door. I’ve cleaned up horse poop in stables. I have herded cattle in Montana. I’ve worked the drive thru window at Wendy’s. I’ve stood in hundred degree heat in dress shirt and tie trying to sell someone a used car. I’ve sold water conditioners, memberships, suits, shirts, ties, shoes. I’ve sat at a desk for 8 hours a day pushing paper around. I’ve worked for a multi- million dollar software corporation doing tech support. But the minute it became clear to me that the only thing the job was going to give me was a paycheck and nothing more, I started thinking about the next job.  I tell you, it wasn’t easy, and there was always a price to be paid.

I read something when I was in my twenties that I never forgot: “The Lessons of Don Juan, A Yaqui Way of Knowledge” by the late Carlos Castaneda. Say what you want about Castaneda’s 15- book chronicle of his apprenticeship with Don Juan, the extraordinary and powerful Mexican shaman, I found these books to be mesmerizing, beautiful, transcendent and profound.  In this book was a passage  whose  truth shook me to the bone when I read it as a very young man, confused and doubtful about my future.

“Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question.

I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart? One makes for a joyful journey and as long as you follow it you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.

A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it. The path without a heart will turn against men and destroy them. It does not take much to die and to seek death is to seek nothing.

For my part there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length.

And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.”

I’ve had a lot of jobs because I have always asked the question “Does this path have a heart?” My greatest fear was to die a spiritual death in a job that sucked the life out of me and gave back nothing in return but green pieces of wrinkled paper. As Jim Rohn says “It’s not what you get in life which is important, it’s what you become.

If you are thinking about changing a career, business or job because you don’t feel it is a path with a heart, or you are looking for one, then I support and encourage you. If you are not on a path with a heart, then you must get off of that path and try another.  Here are some things to think about.

  • You may have a family, bills, responsibilities that don’t give you the luxury of quitting and looking for something else. Got it. Do what you can to be true to yourself. Perhaps a different position, different responsibilities, different location.
  • Your path with a heart may not be your full-time job. It might be a part-time hobby or enterprise that your full-time job supports.
  • If you have the luxury of trying something else, talk to someone who is doing it. Research it. Read about it. Volunteer to get a feel for the daily life of it.
  • Maybe you just need to get a job, any job to keep yourself afloat. You might be saying  “My God man, my car is going to be repossessed and you’re talking about a path with a heart? I need a path with a big dollar sign!” Fine. Do what you need to do and choose powerfully. But keep looking for that path with a heart while you get back on your feet.
  • If what you are doing is not working for you then try something else.  Give it some time. You will know if it’s right for you if you ask the question. There is no shame in leaving, even if you have invested much time or money. This is your life!
  •  Maybe your path is supporting a family or an aging parent and your crappy job lets you do that. Only you can say whether or not it’s worth it. Be clear about it and then be strong and do what you need to.

I believe that the work that we do gives us a powerful opportunity to express ourselves and to make our own unique contribution. Finding the right path can be difficult and discouraging.  If you need help, give me a call. I wish you luck in finding your path.

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5 replies
  1. Theresa
    Theresa says:

    You are “frickin’ amazing,” Ted, as usual. Your wise words and insights arrive at the right time for me and always inspire me! Thanks.

  2. Nanette James
    Nanette James says:

    Thank you for this. I made a decision to leave a job that for me had no heart. It was good to read this.

  3. Paul Whitehead
    Paul Whitehead says:

    Loved it, thanks!
    Above all the section: “Here are some things to think about.”. How utterly grounded in the pragmatic realities of daily life. A pleasure to read and such a welcome change from so many of the other books/guides on this subject.


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