“I found this job I want to apply for but it makes less money,” a friend shared. She was sincere – she wanted to apply, but it seemed unlikely she would, especially since she had just finished telling me about the new-found success of a former colleague that had landed higher up the food chain. “I guess I’m just envious. Maybe I should go back to where I used to work,” implying it would open doors (and it likely would) to opportunities like the one her former colleague had just landed.

“But do you want to do that?”

“No.”

And therein lies one of the biggest dilemmas of figuring out fulfillment – we sometimes don’t want to want what we want, a job that pays less but that we know we’d find more fulfilling, a job that offers greater work-life balance but lacks prestige, a job outside of the scope of our family or origin – outside of what we were raised to believe to be a realistic choice. Though choice is exactly what we do have. We can choose to compromise what we want or make peace with the wants we’ll never forget.

Making peace with what we want and setting on a path to pursue it, of course, does not mean getting where we want won’t be more complicated than we initially planned, or that we will be exempt from the irritations that come with the day-to-day routine of working. But making peace does mean we will gain the peace of knowing we overcame the superficial and freed ourselves to live.