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How to keep your eyes on your own paper in your career

This Joseph Campbell quote is one of my favorites because it so ACCURATELY sums up the secret to creating a career and life you love.

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“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” ~ Joseph Campbell

If you and I had a conversation, I’m pretty sure that I’d share this quote with you at some point. And if I did, it would mean that I was SO excited that I’d probably continue on with something like…

“Let’s go a little bit deeper with this. Imagine that it’s nighttime. You’re in the middle of the woods, you’re on a trail, and in your hand is a flashlight. While you know you’re on a path, it’s dark outside so you can’t see what’s coming up ahead of you.

There could be a lovely waterfall around the bend. Or there might be a beautiful field of flowers coming up on the right. All you can see is what your flashlight illuminates, which is your next step…MAYBE your next two.

Then as you take that next step, the light will move forward with you and shine its light on the step after that. And so it goes as you continue to move forward, step-by-step, knowing that you’ll see the next step as you approach it.”

This Joseph Campbell quote is one of my favorites because it so ACCURATELY sums up the secret to creating a career and life you love.

One of the things that keeps people frozen in jobs or unfulfilling work situations is that they have a hard time keeping their eyes on their own paper.

They compare their career with their colleagues’, peers’, friends’ and strangers’, noticing the places where (they THINK) they fall short, and beating themselves up over it.

They then spiral down into feelings of anger and helplessness, which keeps them from seeing things objectively and taking any positive action. They get trapped in this negativity and hence, become frozen.

Keeping your eyes on your own paper involves taking Joseph Campbell’s advice.

  • It means focusing your attention not EXTERNALLY on what’s going on in others’ careers, but on focusing internally on what you want YOURS to look like.
  • It means recognizing that everyone’s path is, and SHOULD be different. After all, we’re each unique individuals with different ideas about what we want, what lights us up and what comes naturally to us.
  • And it means having the courage to follow that, and trust that as we take action on what we’re drawn to, our path will become clear AS we walk it.

If you want to play with this a little, take some time to consider the following:

What is YOUR goal?

What would you love for your career and life to look like one month from today? (Feel free to use a different timeframe, if you’d like.) What will it look like and feel like when you’ve reached this goal? What will be different then?

What are the four steps that will get you to your goal?

Turn these four steps into your weekly goals for the month. Just be sure that each of these is something you’ll be able to finish that week. This is KEY to your success because it can be hard to keep up your momentum once you fall off-track.

If your weekly action steps seem too big, change your end goal or break it down into 

smaller steps, along with more time to complete your goal.

Be Curious and Stay Flexible

This is perhaps THE most important part! This is where you’ll be keeping your eyes on your own paper and following what next steps feel right to YOU as you go.

Doing this will keep you excited and motivated and hey, as you take action, new insights, new people and new opportunities will likely show up.

When you come across something that makes you feel CURIOUS and tingly inside, let yourself follow through on THAT idea and see where it takes you.

Then, be FLEXIBLE and open to adjusting your weekly action steps, and perhaps even your main goal, accordingly.

If your activity continues to excite you, follow this path until it leads you somewhere new, or until you can cross it off your list.

This is what it means to create your own path with every step you take. Doing this is a fun, risk-free way of checking out new options that could lead you to a fulfilling career you love. Enjoy!

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