We are living in inspired times. While the job market and economy has changed, there is still a path of deep security. It’s your calling. You were born to excel in the work you love. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to find your calling or live it. You brain may never know. But your instincts know nothing else.
Having walked through my own extraordinary career transition from attorney to author and career catalyst, I’ve coached thousands to create the work they love, whether that means daring to uncover a new identity or re-discovering their passion in current circumstances. But this is what it always means. You have an unparalleled path within you. Your joy is your crystal clear direction, not your detour.
I urge you to commit to expressing your real gifts in your lifetime, not just the abilities that might qualify you for a salary. Write, teach nutrition classes, or paint cards and give them to loved ones or those who need love. Ditch the imprisoning mentality that your work has to be validated or franchised or net a certain amount of money to be worth it. You are worth so much more than this petty thinking. Truly, you can’t even imagine the capacities, opportunities and serotonin boosts of clarity you deny yourself by not pursuing what you love.
Often our joy takes us by surprise and expands our definition of who we think we are and what we think is possible. At one point in my career, after I’d already left my chic law firm and started writing, I felt compelled in a direction I could never have imagined. I’d spoken at a tiny church in Minneapolis about how finding your right work was how we felt the love and presence of divine intelligence. The evening felt like slipping into my skin at last, and slipping on a banana peel at the same time. See, I’m originally a Jewish girl from Brooklyn, so, for starters, speaking at a church didn’t seem like the kind of thing I would spread on my bagel. Not only that, but I’m a finely tuned logical instrument, trained at Harvard Law School, so this spiritual, surrender, go into the big union-fest kind of thing wasn’t originally on my tour itinerary. But the experience was bigger than my thoughts about myself. The feeling was definitive, even if I had no definition.
“I will do this,” I heard myself say in the inner sanctum of my being. “I will say yes.” I knew I was saying yes to leading, serving, honoring this small voice within me wherever it led, a voice that used a different alphabet and octave of possibility, and spelled things out in whole new ways. Whatever it meant, I just knew I wanted aliveness even more than I wanted a guarantee. It made no sense to my “practical” self. I imagined (and I’m wrong by the way!) there was no money to be had by following this sweetness, no fame or recognition. There was nothing I’d submit to my alumni magazine in a billion years or share at a networking group or even a backyard barbecue.
Still, I felt as though I was saying yes to bigger questions. I was saying yes to a larger game. I didn’t know what I was “saying yes” to, but the act of “saying yes,” felt like love of a higher order. I felt as though Spirit was asking me, will you play for my Team? Yes, maybe, I should have asked about the benefits package, but I was teeming with benefits at the time, and feeling something I’d never want to retire from. The questions spread through my cells: Will you trust this goodness? Will you follow your guidance and ignore the fears and instructions of the world? Will you bless everyone you can by doing what you love? I said yes, then, and I still do.
Oh and I’ll tell you this. There are so many gifts that come from doing what you love. It’s a joke to me that people think they will be poor by following something infinite, invincible, and alive within them. Students always want to hear the part about where I became a bestselling author and did a TEDx talk, which is all true. But I want to tell them about the increased energy, flow, and unflappable peace of mind. I want to tell them about the ridiculous synchronicities and opportunities that come along, the feeling of connectedness and the extra cherries in their cherry bowl. I want to reassure them that they’ll shine like never before; and everyone wants to hire someone who glows.
Mostly I want to tell them about the love. It’s a love that makes the axis of the earth finally tilt in your direction. It’s a love that makes all things possible, and nothing necessary. Of course, that love is intangible, but bear in mind that every good thing on this planet started with a delicate desire and a great amount of love. Also, you may think love is intangible, as in insubstantial, but let me say this. No tangible item, income or substance, nothing in this whole world or universe, will ever make up for its absence.
I’m not saying you have to quit your job or move to New York City to dance on Broadway. Start small, because believe me, there are no small steps. Every step you take to honor your dreams is huge. Take 10 minutes and sing, write, brainstorm about your vision or ideal business. Meditate or journal or do the thing you know would make all the difference to you to do. You know what it is. Start this very second. Or do what it takes to kick start this inquiry. Go on a weekend retreat. Go to the ends of the earth. Hire a coach, a therapist, or a lion tamer, whatever you need. Honor your gifts and you will honor your lifetime.