The following is a guest post from my friend, author and motivational speaker, Carla Gray BeDell. I am so very happy to know her. Carla’s amazing adventure, sailing and exploring aboard their boat for a couple of years is available on Amazon. Here is a link to her book, A Life Without Borders.
I hope you enjoy reading this piece, below, as much as I did.
My son entered his senior year of high school this year and we both feel the pressure from the well meaning questions he’s being asked by relatives and friends. “What do you want to do?” ”What do you want to be?”
I know we’ve all been down this road when we entered high school; everyone was concerned about our plan. It was important to know what we wanted to be, because….. well I’m not exactly sure. But how many of us really knew what we wanted to be and those that did, how many of you got it right?
I know I didn’t. I had plans to be a journalist ended up graduating from college with a degree in engineering, became a stockbroker, then gave it all up to travel with my family, and now, wrote a book. And you know what? I am right where I should be, because I finally got it right. How? By focusing on how I wanted to “feel” instead of what I wanted to “be”.Feeling is the most important thing we can do. It’s what allows us to create. One of the biggest questions I get in my workshops and coaching sessions is, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I don’t know what my passion is.”
My answer? You are asking the wrong question. It shouldn’t matter as much what you want to do for a living; it should matter more how you want to feel at the end of the day, at the end of your life. If you want to feel physically challenged, you probably don’t want to work in an office cubicle. If you want to feel compassion, maybe you want to work for a charitable organization. If you want to feel mentally challenged everyday, your work should reflect that.
Here’s an exercise I share with my clients.
Sit quietly for a few moments and connect with your heart. Take a few deep breaths and think back to when you were a child. Feel that feeling like it was the first day of school break, you had an endless summer before you and everything was possible. Really feel that. Now, what was the thing you enjoyed most doing? Were you inside or outside? Were you alone of with friends? Exploring or building or maybe some kind of art. Really connect.
Now go forward to now. Imagine your perfect day. Don’t think about a job; think about how you want to feel. What type of dress feels better for you, a business suit or hiking boots? Does working outside cause your heart to sing or is it the fast pace of the corporate world? Think about the end of your day. Do you want to feel like you’ve helped someone, feel like you’ve created something, or feel like you’ve sent a message out to the world? Think to the end of your life. Do you want to feel like you have made a difference with something you’ve done, something you’ve said or something you’ve created?
Really stop and connect with your heart. We have been taught that emotions aren’t reliable, that our head makes better decisions, but that’s not true. Your head is ruled by your ego, and it doesn’t always have our heart’s best interest in mind.
When I was a child, I used to lie in the grass on my back, stare up at the sky and watch the airplanes heading into O’Hare Airport in Chicago, many miles north of where we lived. I made up stories in my head of the people who were on them, and the amazing places they had just come from. It was my dream to be on a plane, to travel, and to write stories. The thought of it made my heart sing.
That was the feeling I remembered when I was a successful stockbroker, living what should have been the “American Dream.” In my heart it didn’t feel right anymore. My heart wanted to be out in the world, traveling with my family. That’s what felt right, and when one day I couldn’t fight the feeling anymore, my husband and I sold everything, quit our jobs, and took our kids on a four year adventure.
So though it took many years, and many wrong paths along the way, I finally listened to my heart, followed the feeling, and haven’t looked back. Though it wasn’t easy, and even some days I doubted myself along the way, it was and is worth it. The same thing can happen for you. But first you have to ask yourself, “How do you want to feel?”