Last year was one of the most transformational years of my life. It marked the first time I set the intention to align what was in my heart with how I make money and to dare to live each day with a purpose and a passion for something that truly inspired me. In a career that had spanned over 16 years, I had had moments of these types of days and glimpses into them, but they had never been a consistent, driving force in my life. I set out to change that.
To embark upon this journey I conducted what I call a ‘Soul-Audit’ to uncover what was truly in my heart — including what both motivated and inspired me. I then sought to find the courage to pursue it. As part of this, I had to learn to believe in the possibility of a business where I could spend my days living a heart filled adventure.
It hasn’t been easy and the journey is nowhere near complete. In fact, it’s only beginning. It continues to be a process and at times a daily struggle. Many days, I question my own sanity and audacity to take such a leap into the unknown. Like so many of us, I spent the majority of my adult life living out an array of preconceived notions and beliefs that no longer served me. Beliefs such as:
· Nothing in life comes easy
· At the end of the day ANY job is still work
· Fulfilling your dreams is for the 1% and I’m definitely in the 99%
· You can’t make money doing good
After enough pain, longing, and stomach aching desire for more, I made the decision to change and to believe in the possibility of something greater, something more.
“To evolve, darkness must first come into the light. What you cannot see you can’t change.”
For me, the unknown was to uncover what was in my heart. After decades of a very successful career in digital marketing, I had become so accustomed to the part I was playing that I had begun to lose touch with what truly fulfilled me and alternately what no longer did. It’s easy to continue on a path, go with the flow, and forget to question whether the path still makes sense for you. But for me, complacency was no longer a way I could live. So, I choose to stop.
Through this decision, I’ve come to believe that we should all actively engage in challenging the status quo of our lives and we should do it often. This includes exploring things like, the greatest fears that are holding you back, and asking yourself regularly if you’re happy with your life and the choices you’ve made that have led you there. It also means having an intention to honestly confront your fears head on. As I embarked on my Soul-Audit here are some of the questions I asked myself:
· What is my biggest fear?
· What am I hiding from?
· What do I have a passion for?
· Of those passions, which one terrifies me the most?
· What are the gifts that I was given which I regularly ignore?
· What are the ways in which I lie to myself? And, why?
“We’re all courageous…some of us are just better at practicing it than others.”
At times, fear has been my biggest motivator in life but more often than not it has served to paralyze me. I often think of the lion in the Wizard of Oz who had the courage all along, when I am feeling particularly fearful. It’s a way of reminding myself that the vast majority of my feelings are short-lived and more often than not, an inaccurate indicator of my true self. In fact, I believe it’s the power to take action in spite of our feelings and fears that is essential to really living.
When I am feeling particularly stuck, I play what I call the, ‘What-if Fear Game.’ It’s pretty simple and it’s a way to understand the root of your fears so that you can ultimately surrender to them, no longer being hindered by them.
To start, take a fear. Then, run through a series of “what-ifs.” With each “what-if,” play out the worst possible outcome (or deepest fear) until you dig all the way down to the core thing of which you are most afraid. Once you’re all the way there — sitting in that fear — the goal is to surrender to the fear, knowing that even if the worst thing you can imagine does indeed happen, you will be OK.
I’ve found through this work that almost all of our deepest fears are usually related to death in some form. So the good news is — if you can surrender to your fears about death — you can do just about anything! An example of how to play the fear game goes something like this:
· I’m afraid to pursue a new career…what if I fail?
· If I fail, what if I become unemployed and then I lose my apartment?
· If I lose my apartment, what if I become homeless?
· If I become homeless, what if I can’t find food to eat?
· If I can’t find food to eat, what if I die?
This oversimplifies things but hopefully you get the point. The reason I make it is because fears lose their power and their ability to be an obstacle to your dreams when you confront them head on. When I was able to do this last year, my natural state of being, which falls more in line with things like courage, faith and love, willingly took the lead.
“We each have a unique contribution to make. Something that is remarkable, profound and inspiring in its own right.”
My journey of self-exploration led me to one conclusion: I needed my professional life to be tied to a higher sense of purpose to be happy. For me a higher sense of purpose meant something that would inherently help people, improve society and business, ultimately making the world a better place in some small way. Upon learning this about myself, I set out to match my gifts, or what I’m naturally good at, with this new found need. It was a long process that included further soul searching and exploration via various forms of research, speaking with mentors, studying those I admire, followed again by further soul searching. Finally, I was able to land on an idea that simultaneously inspired, motivated and scared me (in a good way).
When I was able to allow love, over fear, to be the driving principle of my daily actions, I was able to embrace and allow this new purpose into my life in a big way.
“As I dare to believe in my power to do good, I dare you to believe in yours.”
As I decided to take a big leap into the unknown, it was critical for me to believe in my own power and ability to do good through practicing the daily action of faith. What I’ve received in my very short time since realigning my life to a purpose is a fulfillment that’s hard to describe. But it anchors me and my actions in a way that gives meaning to everything.
If you’re personally feeling off course or that you’re not living out your life’s true purpose, I invite you to make the decision to change today.
I’ll leave you with this…
If you doubt you can wake up every single day of your life and know that you have the ability to make a unique contribution to this world, no matter how big or small, then perhaps it’s time for you to embark on your own Soul-Audit.
Originally published at medium.com