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The Great Work of Your Life Quotes
If you could go back in time, knowing what you know now, would you make a different career choice? What would it be?
It’s a question I’ve seen floating about social media recently, and the vast majority of people commenting say they would make a change. Their pursuits would have better reflected their passions and dreams, not just a paycheck. Often, it was fear that held them back or pressure from well-meaning parents to make the “smart” career choice, saying you could always explore your passions as a hobby later on.
But, we know how busy life gets. The hobbies and passions are usually the first to go.
In other cases, maybe you do put aside your fears and pursue your “dream job” in the field you always saw yourself in, but once you get there, the field isn’t what you imagined it to be. Or, the path just ends. Sometimes it’s cut off from you for reasons out of your control.
What then? How do we feed our souls without literally starving ourselves in the process? How do we find meaning when faced with the mundane brick wall of a 40+ hour work week that drains our energy and depletes our creativity and desires for something more?
I’ve experienced this stress in my own life and see it daily in the lives of those I love. So many of us are “leading quiet lives of desperation” to quote Henry David Thoreau.
When I was at a particularly low point in my career, not quite knowing or understanding how to climb my way out towards a happier work / life balance, I started doing a lot of yoga to help focus and ease my anxiety. It was then that I discovered Stephen Cope’s book, The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling. For some, the book might lean too heavily on spirituality and the tenets of yoga and dharma, but I found the book enlightening. Inspiring, even.
In the years since I read the book, I believe I have made great strides in my journey to my true calling, but I still struggle. I’m lost sometimes. But there’s wisdom in the journey. Each day, I try to be more present, more open to opportunities, reminded of how short our lives are, and what truly matters in the grand scheme.
I hope you’ll read the book and be inspired as I was, but in the meantime, here are my top favorite quotes.
Top 7 The Great Work of Your Life Quotes by Stephen Cope
1. “Actually, you can only expect a fulfilling life if you dedicate yourself to finding out who you are.” pg. 23, The Great Work of Your Life
2. “A life is built on a series of small course corrections—small choices that add up to something mammoth.” pg. 87, The Great Work of Your Life
3. “I discovered a secret: Bringing forth what is within you is mostly about creating the right conditions.” pg. 90, The Great Work of Your Life
4. “A life of dharma is exactly like a great yoga posture. Everything must be aligned around the spine. The dharma is a strict taskmaster. It will require you to reach—to work at your maximum potential. In order to do this, you will have to learn to take better care of yourself. You will have to sleep and eat properly…You will probably have to create a regular schedule. And one day you’ll realize you’re in training like an Olympic athlete. But not any old training—a particular kind of training, the particular kind of training that will support your dharma and no one else’s.” pg. 104, The Great Work of Your Life
5. “Grasping, or craving, or clinging to a particular outcome splits the mind from the present moment. The mind that is constantly evaluating—“ How am I doing?” or “How am I measuring up?” or “Am I winning or losing?”—is the divided mind.” pg. 127, The Great Work of Your Life
6. “Our conflicts and inner divisions—all that separates us from our true selves—must be worked out on the field of real life. On the field of relationships. Of work. Of effort. Of hobbies. Of callings. This is what dharma is. Dharma calls us not to just any old battlefield, but to the battlefield where we will suffer most fruitfully. Where our suffering will be most useful to ourselves, to our souls, and to the world.” pg. 194, The Great Work of Your Life
7. “And when we are truly ourselves we lose most of the futile self-consciousness that keeps us constantly comparing ourselves with others in order to see how big we are.” pg. 255, The Great Work of Your Life
For more inspiration on finding your purpose and living your best life, check out these posts:
- 15 The Obstacle Is The Way Quotes by Ryan Holiday: Setting Stoic Philosophy Into Action
- 43 Timeless Confucius Quotes from The Analects (with Page Numbers)
- 11 Eternal Quotes from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (with page numbers)
- 22 Illuminating ‘The Alchemist’ Quotes by Paulo Coelho (with page Numbers)