I’ve been off enjoying the summer.
I recently started watching a documentary on the keys to mastery. It includes interviews with musicians and actors such as Carlos Santana and Stephen Tobolowsky. In the early part of the documentary, they talk about the first key being finding the thing you love.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard something along these lines time and again.
What haven’t I heard much?
How to figure out what you love.
In the documentary, they say that many people never do. They die without figuring out their true purpose in existing. How sad is that?! I can’t think of anything sadder, so I thought I would explore that angle and offer some suggestions I’ve gathered from talking to people and from my own experiences.
- Try a lot of things.
- You may have heard this advice before. When I was newly separated six years ago and slightly before that, the reality was that I didn’t even know myself anymore. I didn’t know what I wanted out of life either. So I set out on a quest trying things. That was the first time I tried to get back into the theatre scene, but it didn’t feel right back then. I hadn’t yet figured out that I was meant to write, not act. I spent a year watching hockey avidly and though I enjoyed it to a degree, I never felt like I couldn’t miss a game. It never gnawed at my innards like an unfinished story does. I initially set out to try everything that I didn’t or couldn’t do with my ex. From those, I found several loves. Some, like roller derby, I didn’t stick with because it was too dangerous for someone with a history of neck injuries and I really didn’t enjoy refereeing.
- Make a bucket list of things you know you need to try before you die. Start doing them. You’ll love some and hate others. Some will be okay, but not fun enough to repeat.
- It’s okay to have multiple passions.
- I’m so sick of hearing that the only way to make it is to get good at just one thing. That’s ONE way to make it, but there are many paths up the mountain. Yes, you’ll have more difficulties prioritizing if you have multiple passions, but that may be the thing that makes you more successful in the long one. J.K. Rowling isn’t just a writer. She’s been many things over the course of her life. Stephen King has also led a fascinating life including being the member of a band at one point. Those other hats make them both better writers. One must do things worth writing about to write stories that people connect with.
- Furthermore, I think it’s more than acceptable that you have a job that isn’t your passion. Why? Because if you’re like me, maybe when you’re worrying about paying the bills and keeping a roof over your head, it’s too hard to focus on producing stories. It’s far better to have a job that ensures survival. The image of the starving artist has been glorified, but I wonder what the statistics are on those that didn’t make it, not because they didn’t work on their passion, however slowly, but because they actually starved to death. Many people, once they figure out their passion, can convince a boss to let them put those skills to use in their current role, or as part of a project team on loan to another division.
- The thing you’re meant for might currently be out-shined by something you’ve put in the forefront.
- Don’t forget to look behind. In your past or perhaps something you think is too simple to be important, you may just find your golden ticket. You might be doing it all the time. Maybe you can’t imagine not doing it because you’ve always just done it. This tip was suggested to me by a friend.
- You need to minimize distractions.
- I’m not just talking about the little bits you go on Facebook or watching a favourite TV show. I’m talking about the bigger drains like following Trump’s every move. I get that he’s screwing a lot of stuff up for many, but do you really want him to be the thing stopping you from finding your calling in life? If you’re not chasing dreams of being someone in the political field, you need to find a way to tear yourself away from the daily stupidity surrounding him. This goes for anyone you are having an unhealthy obsession over, which may be a jerk at school/work or an ex-lover.
- And yeah, we could probably all do with less Facebook time unless we’re working in a social media job. I’ve always had the everything in moderation philosophy. Watching TV and movies are important for me as an emerging screenwriter, but I need to make more time to read scripts and work on my projects than I have been lately. My renovation has been distracting me a lot and it can be difficult finding a balance between getting that completed and not being away from the writing for too long. Thankfully, I’m doing the last wall section’s second coat today, so I’ll be able to focus more on the business of writing. There are legitimate distractions like health issues that one must attend to. Though I haven’t been making a lot of progress on some of my projects, I’ve been writing ideas down for later. I’ve also been watching movies and reading books in my genre.
- Learn to critically think.
- If you’re one of those people that says you can’t relax because your mind starts thinking, you need to work through that. You need to learn to critically think to find the way to your path. Stop regularly dulling your mind and emotions with substances. You can use them to unwind within reason, but don’t let that be in your way either. Thinking is a good thing. You simply need to channel that power to learn to make it work for you instead of letting it overwhelm you. I say this as someone who is prone to overthinking about EVERYTHING. What usually puts my mind to rest? Making a decision, planning the next two or three steps, then starting on step one. Turn that restless energy into something productive.
- Eliminate what you hate doing.
- Okay, this one should be obvious, but if you loathe something so much that the thought of it knots your stomach up and makes you feel like you’re a step away from murdering someone that says hello to you, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. At least not long-term. Sometimes we have to do undesirable things in the short-term to get us out of debt or to move up into something better. Don’t stay there though. It won’t be good for you or the people you work for. Also, you might be taking up a position that is someone else’s dream. It’s hard to believe that something we abhor could be someone else’s love, but that’s part of the beauty of this world. It’s why my dad was a mechanic and not an auto-body specialist. He could do the refinishing well enough, but he preferred not to do it regularly. Similarly, while I don’t mind discussing politics with some friends, the majority of the time it just pisses me off. This is how I know I don’t want to be too involved in the industry. I don’t mind helping others who have political aspirations, but I don’t want to be the one on that hot seat.
- Make a list of the things you’re decent at doing.
- Often, it is when people combine several things they may not be exceptional at that they find something they excel at. I have friends who may not be the best at grammar and spelling, but they love writing anyway. They have other skills that have lead them down a musical path because lyrics don’t have to be grammatically perfect, they only have to resonate with others. You may have heard something like play to your strengths. Make a list of your strong points. Get a friend to help if you’re struggling to see what you’re good at. Actually, get several perspectives because people see you differently. Somewhere in between what you know and what they perceive, you may find something you never thought of before. Marie Forleo has a good video on this.
- Stop making excuses.
- I hear stuff from people all the time that is an excuse. Not enough money is an excuse. You can qualify for OSAP and other bank loans if you’re thinking about going back to school. Want to open a business? There’s probably funding out there and you can probably also get some crowd-funding. If you want to make a change in your life, you’ll find a way. I know single parents of small children who found a way to make it work. Hell, take night classes or do courses online. With many MOOCs, you have so much freedom to learn something and many don’t cost a thing. Next you’ll say you don’t have time. If you have time for things like Facebook or soap operas, you can find the time for whatever goals you are brave enough to make. I know people who manage to write novels in 15 minute chunks while waiting for appointments or buses. Is it harder? Yep. But you CAN do it.
- The truth about excuses? You don’t want it bad enough to risk your current comfort level. I get it. I risked a lot going back to school. I cleaned out my savings and used OSAP. I’ve had a hell of a time getting caught up on all my bills and I know I’m lucky I got a job. Despite how hard I’ve had it at points along the way, I’d do it again. Maybe I’ll never write an award-winning anything. Hell, maybe my books and movies will never sell, but I love writing them too much not to be chasing the dream. It’s not easy. It’s scary, hard, and lonely, but also worth it. For every one person that is supportive, there are many more who aren’t.
- Get lost.
- No, I don’t mean go away you annoying person. I mean, when is the last time you did something that made you lose track of time? This happens to me when writing, when sewing, and when playing music. It also happens when I’m with certain people. Things that transport you away from the clock are your passions. Video games also do it to me, but I haven’t figured out if I need to work in that industry or not yet. Maybe they’re just a way for me to unwind for now.
- Know thyself.
- Yeah, you’ve heard it before, but it’s important. All of the previous steps are part of knowing yourself. Your likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses can all help you figure it out. Just because you’re good at something though, doesn’t mean you should be doing it for life. You might be skilled at something and detest it, which wouldn’t be healthy long-term. Similarly, just because you’re currently bad at something, doesn’t mean you’re not meant to do it. It means you have a steep learning curve ahead and you’ll have to work harder than someone who may be naturally skilled at it.
- So how does knowing yourself factor in? Well, you’ll be able to figure out whether or not something is meant to be a hobby or a career for one. Writing hasn’t been a hobby for me for the past eight years. It has been something more. I recently thought I wanted to do more with martial arts, but now I’m doubting that I want to keep them as anything more than a hobby that is part of my fitness regimen. This realization may lead to blog changes, or it may not, but I feel at peace inside. The better you know yourself, the more easily you’ll be able to figure out which opportunities are worth taking or should be passed on. You’ll know whether or not the crappy stuff that is part of every passion is worth putting up with too.
I hope someone found this post helpful. I’m off to finish that wall of mine and enjoy this holiday Monday. I think by next Monday, I’ll have a good idea of my fall priorities, but I expect they look rather like:
- The Page & The Magician: Finish editing and resubmit.
- Puppy Chow: Figure out what the next steps are based on the outcome of the contest.
- The Blood Waitress Club: Finish writing it.
- Script #2: Finish writing it.
- French: Read books to improve my vocabulary.
- Home: Continue to declutter and organize.
- Collaborations: Work on projects with others.
I suppose that’s about it.