We are all familiar with the hero’s journey. In a nutshell, a hero’s journey is about conquering our fears and overcoming incredible obstacles to go in search of something rare and wonderful. It is the archetype of most movies because we never tire of watching ordinary people do the extra-ordinary.
As a career counselor, I accompany clients on the journey to finding greater purpose and pleasure in their work and in their lives. Each person’s story is unique yet some elements of the hero’s journey play out time and again.
We all know stalwart employees who show up at the same job for decades without ever considering doing anything else. More power to them! Then there are those who feel called to a new path. The call could come in the form of an inner yearning, a chance encounter, or a significant life event such as a car accident, lay-off or the passing of a loved one.
I have a client who recently left a secure job in city government to heed a call to build sustainable housing for indigenous and fragile populations. Another is feeling called to leave a high paying healthcare technology gig to coordinate medical mission trips in faraway lands. A third is developing a non-profit that will focus on mentoring at-risk boys.
The hero’s journey begins the moment we decide to answer the call.
Cue the fire breathing dragons.
Heroes have no clue what lies ahead and they go forward anyway. Be forewarned. You will suffer and you will be tested. It is inevitable.
You will face inner demons such as self-doubt, fear of failure or lack of hope. And, you will encounter obstacles and meet up with real world adversaries who seem hell bent on stopping you from reaching your goals. Your job is to overcome each challenge as it arises.
This is the point at which we question ourselves. We wonder if the call was real and we come up with all kinds of logical reasons to scurry back to our hum drum jobs and lives. This is a completely normal plot twist.
In the end, the hero remains committed to the journey. No. Matter. What.
Luke Skywalker has Yoda. Dorothy has Glinda the Good Witch. Who will help you along the way? It could be a life coach, a trusted friend, or a colleague that will provide the support you need.
Sometimes all we need is a dose of self-confidence but more often we require practical skills and training to make it to the next stage of the journey. Don’t sit around waiting for a wise mentor to show up out of nowhere. Despite the many similarities, your life is not a movie!
Seek out the help you need to keep moving forward.
Embrace the journey.
Make no mistake, searching for a new career is a hero’s journey. It is a worthy endeavor and requires tenacity, grit, humility and hope. Once we you have embarked on your journey, your life will never be the same.
Even if you don’t quite end up where you intended, you can still choose to feel good about what you accomplished. True heroes celebrate lessons learned and honor the skills they gained along the way. The journey itself is more important than the destination.
For better or worse, the hero’s journey is one worth taking. Why? Because nothing else will bring you closer to self-actualization than staring down your deepest fears to make a dream come true. The greatness inside you is listening. This is your call. Will you answer?