I believe there are 2 keys to finding out what makes your heart sing: Awareness and Curiosity. Both have to be done with a radical validation. I believe, When we open our eyes to how we spend our lives and have curiosity about why we can start to uncover our true passions and purpose. Basically it all starts with three steps:
Step 1: Awareness of the activities/hobbies/people that fill up your life. How do you spend your time? With whom and doing what?
Step 2: Awareness as to whether or not you enjoy these activities/people. Do you actually like these events or are you just with them to fill up time and space?
Step 3: Curiosity around why you like or don’t like these events. Really dig deep. What is it you like or don’t like about the way you are spending your time?
A great example of this process is a client of mine from a few years ago, I will call her Beth (FYI-not her real name). Beth came into my office because her current job as an office assistant just wasn’t cutting it. Beth had a degree in Marketing and had taken this job in the hopes of moving up, but she soon realized that a. she wasn’t going to move up anytime soon and b. she wasn’t convinced marketing was her dream job.
After the first session, I gave her the homework of writing down how she spends her time, and then whether she liked or disliked much of it. When she came back in the office she had her list and a disappointed look on her face. Basically she said she didn’t like much of what she was doing, much of her time was spent on filler activities. Through the conversation it came out that the one activity she loved was reading. She absolutely loved having a book that she was engrossed in. So we began to take radical curiosity to her love of reading and we found: she loved reading novels, she loved getting lost in the stories, and predicting what might happen next. She enjoyed books with a lot of characters that did a lot of character development and had a realistic plot. In other words, she liked hearing people’s stories. In fact, this love of stories was one reason she got into marketing, she loved the idea of branding and telling the story of a product, but it wasn’t real enough for her, she wanted to help people on an individual basis.
So we tossed out the usual ideas of teaching, counseling, social work but she just wasn’t feeling it. And then out of nowhere she said that she had always thought about being a massage therapist but had convinced herself it would be silly to waste her degree. In fact, she had researched massage therapy schools but her dad was always telling her that she would be better off with a business degree. (I will continually be amazed that people tend to KNOW what they want to do, they just bury it so deeply and deny it for so long they don’t share it with the world). As we were talking she became more and more excited about massage therapy as a career, and then with a smirk on her face she said, what does loving to read have to do with massage? And I said one thing I love about getting a massage is if I want to I can talk to the massage therapist, I can vent my day. I don’t expect them to solve anything, I just wanted them to listen to my story. Beth agreed, that she too had vented on occasion when she had gotten a massage.
After more exploring and some work on facing her fears, Beth went back to school and received her Massage Therapy License. She then started her own Wellness Center (using her Marketing background). On occasion I will hear from her. She loves her job and the most frequent feedback she hears from her clients is what an excellent listener she is. Her clients leave feeling completely relaxed mentally and physically! To this day, when I talk to her, she will laugh at how the thought of loving to read opened the door to the idea of being a massage therapist.
That is the point of these 3 steps, opening the door. Figuring out what it is you enjoy doing, why you enjoy doing it and how to add more of that into your life. Beth’s love of reading could have manifested hundreds of different ways in her life, the key is that she gave her self room to start creatively allowing more of what she loved into her life.
So today, ask yourself what is it you love to do and then brainstorm some ideas as to why. I guarantee as you get better and better at bringing awareness and curiosity into your life you will start to live happier and work happier.