What will you do with this one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

It’s a simple question many of us struggle to answer honestly. If you have a solid understanding of this, kudos. The rest of us fight our way through the undergrowth, scythe in hand, cutting down the distractions that have overtaken what could be our trail. Sometimes when we have cleared enough of the path to see more than one foot in front of us, we realize this isn’t where we are supposed to be and we’re faced with a hard decision: continue on the path we’ve been working so hard to find or take a sharp left into the bush and forge a new trail.

When in service to this life of ours, it behooves us to find the right fit. What does that mean? The answers differ per person and during the course of our lives the weights for assigned values can change.

We each have a horizon against which we evaluate the worth of our efforts for an anticipated outcome, calculating whether what we pay to accomplish or earn something is worth what we get in return. It could be financial gains, social or community value, investment in family time, or any combination of these and other factors. What do we value? Everything is a commodity if we assign it worth.

In business, we measure return on investment. That could be anything from cash, time, infrastructure, people resources, to technology. We establish a basic formula: X resources are of Y value and we anticipate Z return. We know what our goal/s is/are for this business endeavour and we understand the cost of fighting through the undergrowth to find/stay on/establish the path. We have a strategic plan we revisit, align our measurable actions with the strategic goals, and with relative confidence can forecast a return.

We could – and many do – apply this framework to our personal lives. For some it works, for others it doesn’t. Our goals change and commodities lose or gain value. Business coaching and life coaching industries are thriving; professionals promise change, some of whom are effective and others not so much. A common thread is recognizing a want to change our personal or business lives and choosing to take action. Reconfiguring those commodity values.

In answer to Mary Oliver and with someone in mind who lived his life thoroughly until the morning he stopped breathing, I am taking that sharp left and forging a new path. Rather, finding a path I had abandoned earlier. It’s the right fit, far from the financially comfortable one, and it will not be easy. The cost of living with the wrong fit is too high, as my commodity values have shifted.

I am a writer, that much I know. It’s what I will do with this one wild and precious life. And it’s how I choose to pay my bills, as unsettlingly inconsistent as that might be, because of my own shift in commodities. So I am returning to contract writing and exploring freelance.

When asked about retirement, my friend had a common reply:

The day I wake up and don’t like what I’m doing, I’ll stop doing it.

Harry McWatters

In my professional life I have had the good fortune to work with or for many talented and intelligent people. My fit has often been as participant observer, part of the organization yet on the peripherery. It’s where I’m both least and most comfortable, providing me with space to see where actions align with goals and where there might be opportunity for change. I believe this to be the essence of communications: building bridges through translating between groups or stakeholders and share information.

To the small business owners struggling to get out a monthly newsletter; to the professional seeking to produce written support materials; to the large organization looking to take action that aligns with a strategic goal of improving communications in some way: let’s talk.

~ Jeannette

Categories: Writing

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