Category Archives: Follow your bliss

What you do is irrelevant until you do this

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I’ve been trying to follow my bliss (it’s not a destination, it’s a journey). The thing is, I have a pretty good idea of what interests me, what skills I possess, what my talents are and what I need to improve. There is no ONE RIGHT WAY. This is all good news.

But I wonder if I’ve been asking the right questions. Or more specifically, if I’ve asked the right question (singular).

What is that all important question? It’s not what I want to do or what I am passionate about. The question I think we need to ask ourselves first is this:

 WHO do I want to be?

 We are all multidimensional people who have lots of interests, skills and talents but what we do and who we want to be are not the same thing.  Asking WHO we want to be opens up a completely different dialogue.

 To answer this question, you have to dig deeper.  And I think your success in achieving a life you love is determined NOT by what you do, but by deciding WHO you want to be. And then using that as a means to align all of your efforts and make decisions. WHO you want to be affects your thoughts, behavior, beliefs and emotions unlike what you want to do.  WHO you want to be lays the foundation for what kind of (doctor, teacher, artist, banker, mother) you will be.

Here’s an example. Gordon McDonald said that there are two types of people: Driven and Called. Driven people believe they own everything and spend huge amounts of energy protecting what they think they own (relationships, things, businesses). Called people believe that everything is on loan. As a result, called people tend to foster or cultivate relationships. They understand that people and things will flow in and out of their lives and are more grateful for the chance to have them and while in their possession, will act as stewards, caring for it for whomever has it next.

The point isn’t whether you agree with McDonald or if one is better than the other. The point is becoming aware of your subconscious thoughts and how they might direct your behavior.  Once you become aware of them you can decide if they are serving you well or not. Awareness will help you make a different choice.  You can live life on automatic pilot or you can take control of the wheel and steer in the direction you want to go.  Accept the responsibility.

Most of us don’t give a lot of thought about what we want to do, often falling into the first thing that comes along. We probably give even less thought about WHO we want to be. Asking what I want to do before figuring out WHO I want to be is putting the cart before the horse.  Humans are illogical and imperfect beings. Our behavior is determined by our feelings and emotions so figure out who you want to be and that will help you reframe your perspective and align your behavior in a (hopefully) more positive direction.

Figure out WHO you want to be and your path to what you want to do will be a lot simpler (not necessarily easier).

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Follow Your Bliss – Midterm Break

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Or “Don’t be in a hurry to figure it all out”.

 I’ve been trying to pinpoint my passion for a long time. My search always centered around a defined set of variables but I’d jump from one thing to the next, convinced each next thing was “it”. 

My first mistake has been to frame each of my little ventures as “the one” instead of seeing it as playing around – trying it on to see how it fits. I would have saved a lot of heartache and left more of my self-esteem intact if I had approached it with that mindset.

 My second mistake has been to jump right in – guns loaded. Don’t get me wrong, action is good. You should act, but maybe you should hold off investing in resources and education (i.e tons of money and time), etc until you know it’s really what you want. And sometimes you can act too soon. Sometimes it is beneficial to just let things stew around for a bit. Let your subconscious work on the problem. Do a little bit more exploring, let more of the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

Here’s what happened to me since I’ve started posting about finding my bliss. I’ve done all the steps that I talked about and I continue to learn. All good. But I was anxious to get on with it. I wanted to have it all figured out – NOW – even though some aspects were still a little blurry. I felt as if something was not quite right. But I chalked that up to insecurity, stepping out of my comfort zone.

But yesterday I made a connection between two pieces of unrelated information that I found and suddenly it all became clear. I knew what it was all along but I was focused on the wrong part of the equation. I may not have made an earthshaking discovery, but a little tweak in my thinking (remember “If your not getting the results you want, do something different – that includes thinking about the problem), brought about such a sense of purpose and clarity that I hadn’t had before. And I know that this time I really hit the nail on the head because I suddenly came alive. I felt as if I was an electrical cord and someone just plugged me into the wall. I was energized and literally buzzing with excitement.

It’s not fuzzy or blurry anymore. The pieces are falling into place and all because I gave it a little more time. Sometimes procrastination can be your best friend.

What have you learned about your journey? I’d love to hear about it.

Follow Your Bliss – Part 2

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I got a little long winded on Part 1, so I am going to keep it short with Part 2.

I liken Part 1 to laying the foundation. I’ve got some guidelines to keep in mind, know where my true interests (essence) lie and now I am ready to put it all into action.

Between Part 1 and 2 I kept coming across a theme in my research. I’m taking that as a sign and hence I give you Part 2:

PLAY.

That’s it. In this stage I intend to just go for it and try it all. Kind of like throwing it all on the wall to see what sticks. Too often we cut our self off from experiencing all of life. Do you always go to the same restaurant, take the same route to work, eat the same foods, go on the same vacation? I’m no better than anyone else except that now I intend to just go for anything that looks interesting and try it. Getting different books and magazines are helpful, but actually going out and DOING something different or trying a new hobby, volunteering somewhere  – these things can help change your perspective and introduce you to something that you never even realized you liked.

School has made us so rigid – there’s only one right answer – only one path to follow. Who says? This is my life and I’m going for it. I’d rather try a hundred different things (and ignore most people who will think you are flighty and can’t commit or “settle down”) because there is so much out there to experience, why limit yourself. Each new experience, skill you learn etc just adds to your knowledge and you never know where it might lead. It’s all good.

Follow Your Bliss – Part 1 Find your Essence

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I’m a creative. I’ve known this in my heart of hearts for a very long time. But my well-meaning mom told me that the things I liked to do (crafts, sewing, knitting) were fine as hobbies, but you couldn’t make a living from them. She was just trying to do what she thought was best for me. I went on to get a marketing degree (ugh).

 My mom is not a creative in the same sense as I am. She’s very analytical – a numbers person. While she was the one that exposed me to crafts and needlework, she could buy enough yarn for a sweater, knit it and be done. My yarn, fabric , pattern and bead collections are testament to our differences in this matter. For her, it truly is a hobby. Me – it’s wired in my DNA and NOT creating would be like not breathing.

 I’ve tried for many years to carve out a creative freelance career but I’ve never been able to manage it. I’ve gotten hung up on money, credentials, and confidence. I let marriage, moving, motherhood and a whole other host of excuses (I’m too old, I don’t have a degree, I’m not as talented as _____, etc) stop me.

 I’m at a very significant point in my life. I have a year until my son goes to college and then I am really free to do, go, be whatever I want. And after half of a lifetime of exploring different options (fashion design, graphic design, interior design, writing, event planning, custom drapery business,  etsy shop, craft shows, website that featured sewing, knitting, crafts and interviews with creatives) and never really sticking with anything long enough to harness any real success, I am hoping that this time I can come up with some sort of reasonable plan and start putting it in place so that a year from now I may be able to escape the cubicle jungle.

Change the Process

I am approaching it this time with this in mind: DON’T do what I did in the past. Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. (For instance, I love the idea of a day planner. I’ve bought many but they last about a week. I’ve finally learned that I’m not a “day planner” kind of person no matter how much those leather binders lure me.) This time, I’ll try a trial and error approach. I’ll try something new, if it works, I’ll add it to my repertoire, if not, out it goes and move onto another approach. In the past I never really considered why I wasn’t able to stick with something. I assumed it was confidence and beat myself up over it (way to improve the confidence, right?). Being a little older and wiser, I’ve realized maybe I don’t need to fix me (i.e. get more confidence), maybe I need to change my approach/process/system. What a relief this revelation has been for me.

So, how am I going about looking for my “ideal” career. First of all, I am striking the word “ideal’ out. Why pick one ‘ideal” thing when I am obviously attracted to many different things?  I like variety so a freelance career where I have an assortment of different projects is appealing from a “being engaged”  as well as from an income standpoint. Not being tied to one source of income means if I lose one, it won’t be a financial disaster.

Find your Essence

My starting point was to do a little self-analysis. I made up a list of every job, project, etc that I’ve ever done and noted what I liked about it. Then I tried to narrow it down to its essence – why I liked it. I came up with:  learning new things, creative collaboration, designing and creating. (None of this was anything new to me.) When you’ve narrowed your likes down to their essence it opens up many different paths you can take to satisfy that essence.

I’ve read a lot of books about finding your passion and most ask you to list what you like to do. But what you like to do isn’t as important as why you like to do something. I like to write but there are dozens of reasons people write. I do it  1) to process my emotions and thoughts and 2) to learn.  I can now see why I lost interest in copywriting. But if I focus on topics I want to learn more about, writing is still a viable option.  Spend some time figuring out the why and the whats will appear (but they may not be the whats you originally entertained).

I also went through all of my past creative pursuits and tried to figure out why I quit. I mean, from the looks of these, I should have loved doing any one of them. It’s easy to see why I left the insurance industry but why didn’t interior design or writing work? I thought it was confidence but turns out, confidence really had nothing to do with it once I really looked at what I was really doing.

Take writing as an example. I tried it for awhile, made some progress and then quit. Why? Well, when I was trying to be a copywriter (that’s where the “big” money was). But what I discovered in my self-assessment was that I use writing as a tool to learn. I should have been trying to write articles/books/blogs/presentations etc, about things I wanted to learn. 

Another example is interior design. I loved designing my home. I was hands-on in the process – coming up with a plan, sourcing items, finding the right fabric for the drapes, sewing the drapes, painting the room, repurposing garage sale finds and then seeing it all come together. But after taking an interior design class, even though you do get to design, the majority of your time is spent managing people and resources.  Learning why I quit serves two purposes. First, I can quit beating myself up for quitting because in the end it didn’t fit my essence and reframe it as a learning experience. Secondly, anything I decide to do from this point forward I can do a little research to see if the day-to-day realities match what I want to do before I invest too much time or money in it.

Here is a summary of my search so far:

1. Don’t do what you’ve always done if you aren’t getting the results you want. Keep trying different options till you find ones that work for you. Don’t focus on changing/”fixing yourself, focus on finding the process that works for you.

2. Keep your options open. There is more than one path.

3. Find your essence. Figure out the things that energize and engage you.  

4. Reframe past “failures” as learning experiences and move on.

Please post a comment about your creative journey and what is helping you tap into a more passionate life.