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Are You Sleeping On the Job?

Whatever your inner critic is telling you, feeling bored or uninspired are clear indicators that it's time to stop playing small. That's when you know your soul is hungry for more from you. And when a soul is hungry it has to be fed.
11/25/2015 02:17pm ET | Updated November 25, 2016
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I once had the experience of literally falling asleep on the job. I was working in a Cocoa Cola factory at the time, and my job was to sit and check bottle levels as the bottles ran by me on a conveyor belt.

I was 19 years old at the time, and this bottle factory was full of middle-aged immigrant women who had been working there for twenty-some years. Twenty years of washing, labeling, and stacking bottles.

I will never forget one of them coming up to me with a confused look on her face and asking me:
Why are you working here? You speak English, you're smart--you could do much better. I have no education, my English is not good, and I have to work here. But you...I don't understand why you work here?

What that woman said to me hit a tender nerve, and I found myself flooded with feelings of embarrassment, shame, and humiliation about where I was in life. Why was I choosing to do work that was deadening to my spirit and that was beneath my abilities? Why was I settling for less?

Granted, your particular line of work is probably a little more elevated than bottle work in a Cocoa Cola factory, but the questions still apply: Why do you put-up with work that under-utilizes your skills and abilities? Why do you settle for less? What stops you from playing big in your work world?

You could probably come up with a whole bucket-load of external reasons why you feel stuck in your boring job. You have a boss that doesn't appreciate how smart you are. Your job description does not permit you to go outside the lines and be creative. Jobs are hard to come by.

BUT the real problem is an INTERNAL one. The problem is YOU.

When that immigrant woman asked me those questions, I knew in my heart WHY I was working in that place. But how could I begin to tell her that I didn't feel smart, that I was scared to challenge myself, that I didn't feel worthy of any better? But that was the truth of the matter. That's why I was washing coke bottles for a living.

Maybe you're telling yourself something similar -- that you're not good enough or smart enough to even think about going after work that challenges and stretches you. Or maybe the sense of security you feel in your job outweighs the risk of you unleashing your creativity or your ability to possibly lead others in the workforce.

Whatever your inner critic is telling you, feeling bored or uninspired are clear indicators that it's time to stop playing small. That's when you know your soul is hungry for more from you. And when a soul is hungry it has to be fed. It is that bigger version of you trying to tell you that it's time to wake up, wipe the sleep out of your eyes, give yourself a good shake, and dream a bigger dream for your life.