Illuminating life's path
Holly over at the superb Decor8 blog had a reader who inquired about "...how to find your calling in the design world." Holly put it out to the blog readers to offer suggestions, which got my mind turning! I wanted to share my response here, as well... Here are my thoughts:
Other than design, there isn't a subject I'm more passionate about than finding your "calling", "life's path", or "destiny". I've been fortunate enough to find mine, but it was a curvy road- not a straight path!
At the risk of sounding WAY "out there" (I'm not, I promise!), I have to say: I'm someone who believes in connection. I think there's a reason for what happens in every single moment of every day. (I think there’s a reason you’re reading this right now.) I also think if you stripped down the diversions in your life, you would discover that every person was born with specific talents to contribute to the world. I feel these talents are what connect us together to create an interdependent society that can sustain itself. The problem with this potential for utopia seems to be the "distractions" we encounter along the way...
What are the distractions that prevent us from finding our true calling? They are varied and numerous!
Money is a huge distraction. It's a necessity, of course, but it can also be a destiny-blocker.
I had a cushy corporate job, but I was using about 5% of my true talent and I was successfully "faking" the other 95%. After a few years of this, I hit the proverbial rock-bottom. There came a day when I said (out loud): "I would rather sell our house and everything I have than do this another day."
I quit my job the next day and began designing full-time... I didn't have to sell off everything in the end- but I was willing.
Are you there yet? Are you willing to sacrifice some things of comfort to do what you love? Will you put your life in a state of upheaval to fight for this dream? If you can answer "yes" to these, then you've already found your true calling. That dream that you'd fight for is your gift and your calling- do it!
Another distraction on your road to "you" could be your parents and friends' thoughts about who you should be. Although other people's input can open your eyes to facets of yourself that you may never have considered, their input could also be leading you down THEIR path- not yours.
If you take nothing else away from what I'm writing here, take this: Stop asking for permission to be who you are! Do not allow others to tell you that you can't do something or can't succeed. Also, do not allow yourSELF to tell you this, either!
See, my big barrier was myself. I thought I had to go back to college to get a design degree to do what I loved. I was SO wrong.
The truth is, if your dream is to be a decorator you don't need a degree or certification for this career. You do need innate talent and business skills... both of which came from my parents, not the university. If I would have waited for the university to tell me that I was an "official" decorator, I'd still be there now! (Don't confuse interior decorating with interior design, which does require a degree for certification.) Stop waiting for outside verification of your abilities and start refining them and sharing them now!
Another way to remove the barriers to finding your path is to erase the outside influences for a while and be QUIET with yourself. Turn off the TV and computer for a week and sit. Your mind will eventually lead you to what you are most interested in when it is stripped of superficial guidance.
Write down what you start thinking about or what you start doing during this time... you will be able to make the connections when you re-visit this journal later. This is a wonderful exercise to find your natural interests and talents!
On the opposite end of the exercise above is the distraction of looking too hard. This one is easy. It's the same story you hear about people who are looking for their soulmate: The minute they stop trying so hard, it happens!
If you are frustrating yourself in your quest for your destiny, you won't be in the right state of mind to see your little opportunities and "signs" along the way. Look for your calling, but don't obsess over it.
Along those lines, don't dismiss the people and things you are experiencing before your big "life epiphany". Everyone you are coming in contact with now is a piece of your puzzle. I can't count how many people that were put in my path before my career change that were somehow a part of my success afterwards. Remember... a completed puzzle is made up of many tiny pieces. Your "pieces" are the moments you are living right NOW.
Speaking of life's "moments"... I mentioned above that I never had to sell off things to sustain myself after I began designing full-time. How did I do that? I didn't plan it on a spreadsheet, create a sales forecast, or do a powerpoint. So why was I able to be successful on my own, without the corporate check?
The answer is: I have no idea! What I DO know is that after I began practicing my true talents and sharing the gift of decorating with others through my business, my life took on an inertia that wasn't there before.
I became opportunistic of every moment and recognized there were chances for success in each one. I treated each moment and each person as if they would make or break me. That's when the business grew FAST- like "magic".
This is described by athletes as "flow" or "being in the zone". I believe it to be God's affirmation that you are doing what you were born to do. Doors will open for you, "coincidences" will occur frequently, opportunities will come your way, and authentic success is yours.
Authentic success should always be your goal in finding your calling. This isn't necessarily monetary success. It's REAL satisfaction with your work, your contribution to others, and your "self". It makes you feel like the best version of who you are- right now, in THIS moment.
You only have THIS moment, so authentic success is never absolute. There are other moments to come, and more ways to learn, grow and give along the way.
That's the beauty of finding your life's path- it's a PATH, not a destination. The creation of yourself never ends, so get yourself on your path and begin enjoying the magic along the way! :)