When Sabrina Ali first reached out to me via Kelly Diels, she said: "My 'thing' is resumes". I'll 'fess up: since I left my corporate gig in 2006, I haven't thought much about resumes (with the exception of including one in my own business plan). Those dreary under two-paged, Times New Roman, 1.5 line spaced, centred contact info ("make sure you don't have a partygrrrl69@ email address") documents that seem to breathe "meh, this is good enough". SO. BEIGE. So, given that this delightful young woman came to me through Kelly (and I've only met incredible, anything-but-beige stars through her), I imagined that Sabrina would offer my readers some fabulous tips about sassing up their resumes. And that that would be good.
Between the months that have elapsed since that request and this posting, it's truly blissful to see Sabrina claim her REAL thing: uncovering vocation.
So please, dig into this wise young woman's delicious words. And see what covers start to peel back for you.
What's your thing?
Sabrina Ali: Here’s “the” thing first:
The simplest thing that you do is your gift to the world. You need no thanks because it’s a pleasure just to be able to do it. And you can absolutely create a life out of doing this seemingly simple thing because you do it uncommonly well.
Not everyone knows how to express, name or talk about the meaningful thing they do with specificity. It’s under a lot of clutter.
So my thing? Where do I come in?
I uncover vocation. I help articulate enthusiasm (with my compassionate investigative querying nature) and facilitate the design of strategies to create vocation-centred living. It’s all concrete; it’s all marketable and totally professional.
I’ve personally been working with people on creating vocation-centred lives my entire life. I was designed this way. Over the last eight years alone I’ve worked in career transition coaching, self-development facilitation, career and education advisement, and employee engagement roles.
It’s (like seriously long over-due) time to re-imagine our concept of work. Work is not just about a means to an end, it’s about creating a life that integrates all parts of you.
Was finding your thing the result of a divine revelation, an insane invention, a culmination of insights...or something else?
Sabrina Ali: Finding my thing was all of the above and something else (as you say). It was a matter of putting all the clues together:
A culmination of insights: I used to be a career workshop junkie. If someone was holding one, having one, giving one then I was there. They were fun to me. Some were better than others and whether I was looking for a job or not, I went. At some point, I started to offer my insights to the other participants. At some point, I started to become the teacher. Who me?!?
A divine revelation: I used to drop everything, clear everything in my schedule, move my schedule around, and even create a schedule around helping people with their career and education strategies. I just couldn’t help myself. And I especially loved the results - phone calls, emails, or coffee and dinner dates with people to celebrate job and school program offers. People were feeling “on their path,” they were making more money, feeling happier. Hearing this news was the equivalent of ... well, I’m almost embarrassed to say, but it was like having really great sex. Every. Single. Time.
The revelation: My enthusiasm is a force to be reckoned with. And so is everyone else’s. And I define this particular enthusiasm as: Clarity of purpose in total alignment with intention - where being and the task are one.
My insane invention: I have an insane invention being invented right now! I’m in the midst of creating the ultimate self-guided digital vocation exploration kit. It’s called the Bliss Kit and it’s for fellow heroes and heroines who yearn for self-discovery; who want to create careers and lives with a sense of energy-giving purpose. This is the quintessential collection of career and self exploration tools to assist people on their journey. It’s due out in March.
Something else: I’ll call it listening to the signals of life. Reflection, curiousity and intention are the ingredients. I would have been blind to the clues lying around me if not for the act of reflection and the power of being in a state of curiosity. The wisdom is not hard to find, but you don’t know what you’re looking for or looking at without intention. With intention it’s like looking for Easter eggs that were hidden by someone that wanted you to find them.
Obstacles/fears/doubts – what were they, how'd you vanquish them??
Sabrina Ali: These words have come to mean: The gifts that I couldn’t have in the moment that I’d never want to be without.
It’s human to experience obstacles, fears and doubts.
It is divine to transform them into something that serves your life. And we always at any moment have access to that possibility.
Obstacles: Not enough money. Not enough love. Not enough acceptance. Not enough credentials. Not enough time. It all boiled down to externally referencing myself towards other people’s ideas of success rather than defining my own based on how I wanted to feel in my own life.
Fears: That I’m generally an inadequate human being. That I have helped all the people that I can and now there’s no one else to help. That I can’t write. All stories that I inherited and contrary to the actual evidence showing up in my life.
Doubts: That what I’m doing (whatever plan, strategy, idea) won’t work. The antidote? Listen to life instead – what people are asking me for, thanking me for, admiring about me without any prompting whatsoever from me. Where is the love coming from and what is it saying?
My vanquishing (love that word btw) strategy: Tiny. Baby steps. And often (momentum is a friendly force).
A nurturing strategy that encounters the doubts, obstacles and fears was key. For example, I have worked with gifted coaches, a Jungian counsellor that I really connected with, energy healers and did yoga over the last 4-5 years. These partnerships helped move me through my stages faster and I’m thankful that I made those investments in myself. I am in a supportive relationship where I grow into more of who I am and I also adopted a dog. I speak kindly to myself. I even did a couple of online writing courses for the sheer pleasure of learning (nothing with grades). I write every day.
If you love yourself and allow yourself to be loved, fear, doubts and obstacles start to look like opportunities for evolution. If they can get you just sick and tired enough of maintaining life ‘as is’, they are your friends. Trust me.
What questions did you ask yourself to trigger your a-ha moments...and what signs and milestones should others be looking for in their journeys?
Sabrina Ali: When I feel the “crunch” of existing – exasperated, frustrated, pointlessness, listlessness, rather than asking: “Why is this happening to me?” I ask: “What is this experience here to teach me?” Not in a punitive way, but rather in a compassionate way to help me evolve my capacity to be in the world and to live with more joy than fear.
Pain is sometimes very subtle and sometimes it’s loud and clear. Either way, it is a sign that something is unresolved. We were taught to avoid pain, but the bridge to joy lies in turning towards it.
It’s the foundation of why an entire work history can be transformed from a burden to an expression of enthusiasm. It processes and grieves things that we blame ourselves or others for. It allows for alchemy of experiences from pain to purpose, useless into ‘full of use.’
With this question alone I started to witness patterns that limited me that I had been unaware of. This is freedom. Freedom to choose rather than letting an unconscious pattern keep you feeling estranged from your one wild and precious life.
Sabrina Ali is totally honoured to have her "thing" exposed by Tanya Geisler. :) She's a Vocation Strategist and the Creator of www.makebelieveforreal.com. Sabrina says: Work is a pilgrimage of identity, a partnership of your heart and head, and what you are called to do for work is sacred.
You can also find her on Twitter.
Tweetworthy Sabrina Ali (for your sharing pleasure)
- Finding your thing is about putting the clues together. @thewitchofbliss to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8yT5k #TFThurs
- enthusiasm = clarity of purpose in total alignment with intention - @thewitchofbliss to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8yT5k #TFThurs
- It's divine to transform fears + doubts into s.t. that serves yur life. @thewitchofbliss to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8yT5k #TFThurs
- In facing doubts, ask yurself: Where is the love coming from + what's it saying? @thewitchofbliss to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8yT5k #TFThurs
In upcoming Thing Finding Thursdays, I'll be sharing interviews with the paragon of Creative Joy herself Jennifer Louden, Matthew Stillman ("deproblemizing through High Weirdness <--LOVE) and more, MORE, MORE!!
Plus, news about the launch of my Board of Your Life kit. It's coming, and it's goooooood. Make sure you're signed up to receive notices, will ya?