I was lucky because I always knew exactly what I wanted to be, it just took me a very long time to find the courage to get there. My challenge was pushing through all the inner critic, self-sabotaging patterns to allow myself to start creating the life I wanted.
However, if you are someone who has the drive to do something new and exciting but you don't know what that is yet, here are 3 tools to help you uncover what that might be. You can get these done on your lunch break TODAY!
BEFORE YOU START: There is only one rule to keep in mind when you are working through these tools: Allow yourself to answer the questions without judgment! I.e do not stop half-way through the exercise and think "well I can't make money doing that" or "I'm too old to start that now". The point of this post is to uncover your passion. You don't need to worry about how you will make money out of it just yet!
Okay, time to get started now!
1. Use Jealousy As a Compass to Point You In The Right Direction
To me, jealousy is the most effective indicator of what we want to do next but are afraid to pursue. When I find myself feeling jealousy towards someone, I try and get down to the main reason of why I feel this way. It's a technique I learnt from the author Julia Cameron. Am I jealous because this person is further along in their music career than I am? If so, this tells me that I want to achieve what they have achieved and so I will need to re-adjust my plan to include some new goals. Am I jealous of the way this person looks? If so then this tells me that I want to make more time to take care of my wellbeing (eat well, sleep enough hours, exercise, stop wearing my workout gear all day, get a haircut, you know basic stuff that we shove to the bottom of the pile when we are busy). This might sound trivial but you can apply the same concept to bigger life decisions. Before I started actively pursuing my music, I was so critical of other artists "This person can't sing", "This person is a one hit wonder", "I hate this song". Looking back I now know that I felt that way because I wanted to do what they had found the courage to do. I wanted to work as hard as they did to achieve what they have achieved. I criticized the people I wanted to be to make myself feel better. Now that I am actively doing what I've always wanted to do I find myself encouraging others who are pursuing the same things as me because as long as I keep doing my thing there will be space for all of us to succeed in this game!
TRY THIS EXERCISE.
PEEL THE ONION
Take a piece of paper and go somewhere private where you can be free to write what you want without fearing that people can peek over your shoulder! Reflect on your jealousy (both professional and personal). Try and understand why you feel the way you do about certain people. You really have to be confrontational with yourself and "peel the onion" one layer at a time to uncover what's lying at the center. Don't censor yourself in the process. What did you find? Are you jealous that others don't work as hard as you do? That might tell you that you actually want to slow down and make a change. Are you jealous of someone's photography skills? That might tell you it's time to get a camera and start learning. Are you jealous of someone's recent success? What did they succeed in? is it something you want? Try to turn the green monster into your friend and it will help guide you in the right direction to uncovering the things you want.
2. Pinterest, Books And Other Visuals
If the previous exercise wasn't for you and you were after something a bit less "Self helpy" (I love self-help stuff sorry!) then let's try something else to help you uncover your passion!
Look through Pinterest or a magazine during your lunch break today. What do you gravitate towards? What articles do you read and why? What do you pin most? Interior design? Stationary? food recipes? Pinterest is basically a curated board of all the things you love. Go back and have a look at what you have curated! Now just because you pin a food recipe, doesn't mean you want to be a chef! But if food is the majority of what you pin, if you are always on the hunt for new recipes, if you love coming home to cook and obsess about what restaurants to go to, then well food is clearly your passion. Wouldn't you love to make a living working with food somehow? Just ask yourself this question without judgement and without worrying about how you are going to get there just yet or how much money you will make.
This exercise was the reason I started this blog!
Although I knew I wanted to be a musician I found myself drawn to blogs. I was always reading and keeping up to date with them. The topics of each blog varied but I like the unfiltered exchange of ideas from one individual to another. I also read a lot about creativity to help myself start my music journey. I loved writers who wrote about their routines and how they managed to get a book finished. Two of my favourite books were Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" and Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Downs The Bones". I also loved listening to TED talks about creativity. My Pinterest was full of embarrassingly motivational quotes about going after what you want and taking the leap! All that stuff fascinated me but it wasn't until I sat down to really think about why I spent so much of my time doing these things that I realized I would like to start a blog of my own and that it was going to be about the Creative Process. The "getting started" portion specifically.
Get really specific about the visuals, books and magazines you are drawn to. What about them fascinates you? What are you constantly curating on your Pinterest boards? Become analytical about this stuff and see if it will help you uncover your passion.
3. What Would Your Ideal Day Look Like?
This one is the hardest of the 3 exercises because our brain is so good at keeping us from dreaming too big. Have you ever thought of an idea and shut it down straight away? Your brain is wired to keep you from taking risks. It's an evolutionary survival mechanism! Try and push past all the brain chatter while you finish this exercise.
TRY THIS EXERCISE:
YOUR IDEAL DAY
Grab a piece of paper, find somewhere private, maybe a cafe, and describe what your ideal day would look like if money and time were not an issue. When I did this exercise 2 years ago my description was something like this:
“I wake up early, I walk my dog on the beach (I didn't have a dog or lived near a beach), go get a coffee, head back to my home office (I didn't have a home office at the time), go through my emails and clear them by lunch time. Spend the afternoon working on a creative project without email distraction. Go to my vocal lesson (didn't have that going on at the time), then do some exercise and have a healthy dinner. Spend quality time with people I love and go to bed at a good time reading a book I loved or do some journaling)".
My life was chaotic when I did this exercise!!. My actual day did not one bit resemble my "ideal day". I was working really long hours in my day job, I had no time to work on music let alone exercise or take my fake dog for a walk! I was stuck in Auckland traffic travelling to and from my office in the CBD.
After you write your description, go ahead and circle anything you are already doing. For example, at the time of doing this exercise, I was eating healthy and I was spending time with people I loved even if it wasn't quality time. It's okay if you don't have anything to circle, but if you do you are already a few steps ahead of the rest.
Next, underline anything you COULD start doing right now. For example, I COULD wake up early and go to sleep at a good time and read a book. These 3 things were in my immediate control to change if I chose to change them. Also if I woke up earlier I was able to get coffee before I started work and have some time to myself before the demands of my job started. I was already on my way to ticking things off and it felt better. Off course, I wasn't able to do this every day but when I did I was closer to my ideal day.
Now keep going back to this exercise time after time and make decisions that will allow you to get closer and closer to this ideal day. I am a bit of an extreme person so I ended up making drastic changes over the next year and a half after doing this exercise. I found a new job where I could work remotely and I moved cities to somewhere smaller and cheaper so I can live closer to the water. I have cut down my work hours to part-time so that I can focus on my creative projects. None of this happened instantly and you don't need to be as dramatic as I was in the beginning but dreaming up an ideal day and working towards it gives you a goal and makes you think about how you want to be spending your days here on planet earth!! If you don't have a target in mind, you won't make decisions with a purpose, you won't move towards something, you will remain stuck and frustrated (I was stuck there for a long long time!)
You can not pursue your creative projects if you don't know exactly what you are after. So try these exercises and write to me and tell me if any have helped you in any way. Good luck and speak next week!