The Benefits of Not Knowing Your Next Work

09th June 2016


No, I’d never been to this country before. No, I didn’t know where the roads would lead me. No, I didn’t intend to turn back. ~ Mary Oliver.

We are bought up in a culture that cultivates knowing. Bestows kingly respect upon it. And in worship, elevates it without discernment.

Our classrooms teach it. Mark and reward it. The child with the quickest highest hand and right answer gets the gold star. Our workplaces hunt it out. Recruit and pay handsomely for it. Judge it and promote upon it’s breadth and depth.

To say, ‘I don’t knowis, to risk shame, ridicule and humiliation. Perhaps, ‘not knowing,’ will curtail your career. Or, call an end to current work.

What if, to say you don’t know was deemed an act of bravery. An act of humility. A preparedness to be vulnerable, curious and open. And, resulted in a ways that changed everything? Its not to say we don’t need to know, we do – just not all the time!

Say you’re tired of your work. The dreaded face of Monday meets you on Sunday. You steal yourself to show up,  soul amiss. You push through days, dutifully, wearing the right face, with its pretentious smile, feigning presence and care. While all the time, you fear being found out as the interloping traitor to the corporate cause.

Imagining another work. Company or manager. You covert job ads, desperate for an out.  You think you’re better than this work, then think again, perhaps you’re not. You know you don’t want this job yet, you don’t know what job you do want. And so, you take the safer path and stay with what you know. And the dreaded face of Mondays threatens Saturdays too.

Right now, all you need to know is that you want a new work. Own this, your first step in finding new work.

When you summon the courage to say, ‘I don’t know,’ you stop having to make things up. You no longer stay with what you’ve outgrown. You stop pretending you accept, ‘it is what it is.’ You cease rushing for an easy, often skimming-the surface kind of answer. And, importantly you lessen the risk of taking a job not worthy of you.

Surrender to not knowing and you remain true, integral and curious to the possibility  of new work. 

To name the unknown and to be with it, can be unnerving. Unsettling, even scary. Your encounter with the unknown can also be exquisite. Sweet and sacred. So revelatory and real, it might break your heart and even change your life!

The unknown invites you to walk with faith, wandering mapless, without expectation of arriving. You are invited to explore un-previously trammelled terrain. To take new paths. Explore new places. To notice whats within and without. To connect to your feelings and the intelligence of your heart, body and soul.

Each step you are shade braver. More present you move closer to what waits for only you to know. The work thats your’s to do. The larger life that’s your’s to live and love.

Eventually we realise that not knowing what to do is just as real and just as useful as knowing what to do. Not knowing stops us from taking false directions. Not knowing what to do, we start to pay real attention. David Whyte.