If you have ever taken a leap and gone after something simply because it was calling to you, you’ve probably been asked about “the moment you knew”. That instant when you decided to switch career paths, move to New Zealand, or divorce your husband. For whatever reason, society has this expectation that there is a singular moment that causes someone to change their mind about their lifestyle. We hear about “overnight successes” and people “rocketing to fame”. You know, somebody made a decision and the rest turned out perfectly!
But that’s never the full story.
Just because your path isn’t lined with well-groomed rosebushes and sparkling in the sunlight, being oohed and ahhed over by a small crowd, doesn’t mean it’s crazy and will never work out. In fact, it means you’re pretty normal.
Ignore the notion that you can’t follow your dreams unless you have one singular passion that’s going to make you an instant success when you quit your day job. What are you going to say if you DON’T have one big passion – if you, in a totally normal twist of fate, are actually undecided? All you know is that you want to follow your heart, and that requires making a change. Screw the naysayers. “I don’t know” is acceptable as long as you’re working it out.
But where’s a girl to start?
DISCOVER WHAT YOU LOVE
Whatever calls to your heart will never steer you wrong. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic”, she talks about following little nudges from the universe. One of hers, a little bit of curiosity about gardening, led her to write The Signature of All Things, probably her most beautiful and luxurious novel. This is proof that your path may not be right where you expect it. It’s so important to look around and really follow what interests you. Just like in the fairytales you read when you were young, the path tends to magically light up as you keep moving forward. Think about what you return to, time and time again – what you loved as a child. What really speaks to your heart now, in this moment?
The trick here is allowing yourself to be both open and discriminating at once. Open your mind to every new opportunity and say a resounding, welcoming YES to see where it goes, if it seems right for you. But if you don’t like it, if you change your mind, be ruthless and cut it from your life. Your path does not need to be littered with remnants of old dreams and stale ideas that you never cared for. Sweep them away and make room to create your dream life from the things that come to you out of true LOVE.
TAKE RISKS AND LEARN FROM THEM
What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you. Do you have an idea? Try it and see how it pans out. It might be very successful or it might end with you calling your grandma who pats you on the back and says, “Ok, now get up and try again” (grandmas tend to know these things). You have every option in the WORLD open to you – they can’t all work out! If something goes wrong, if you are sent a step or two back, simply move forward in another direction.
In the same vein of risk-taking, try new things. Ever wanted to take a burlesque class? Do it. Maybe it will become the thing your life revolves around and you’ll end up teaching classes! Or maybe it will just be something you enjoy. Maybe you’ll hate it and it won’t go anywhere. But you’ve got to do more than sit on the edge with your toes in the water- you’ve got to cannonball in! If it’s cold or shark-infested, you can always get back to the shore.
LET GO OF WHAT OTHERS THINK
People are ALWAYS going to be interested in your business when they have no need to be. At the same time, at the end of the day, all everyone really cares about is what they themselves are up to. Usually, straight up insults are based on jealousy or some dissatisfaction in someone’s own life. That is not your problem! If people start to drop out of your life because they are unwilling to accept your acceptance with yourself (because that’s what this is, this ability to say “I don’t have one singular path and my life is always changing”) once you’ve decided what you love, they are not meant to join you on your path.
You can always change. Don’t ever think you’re stuck, even if you’ve announced your grand life plan to everyone ever and you’re horribly embarrassed to admit that you’ve changed your mind. Maybe in 5 years you’ll want to do the exact opposite of what you’re doing now. You are not any less because of this – you are simply shedding layers to become who you were meant to be in this moment. You get to choose that. Forget what other people think and understand that your way through life is your own. Making a fool of yourself and changing it up are not things to avoid – they are things to seek out in the name of growth and learning.
EXPAND YOUR IDEA OF SUCCESS
Success doesn’t always mean you have to be making money and living a life of ease. Maybe success to you is going to mean having the strength to try new things and be okay with failure, your biggest fear. Maybe success is going to be releasing the expectations your family had on you growing up. Or maybe success to you IS making money – and that’s okay too!
Remember that you don’t have to know where you’re going right this instant. You can be happy with where you are in the present while you are striving for more. And you don’t have to stick to the same thing your entire life. Do what calls to you right now and work hard at it, and it will generally bring you happiness (and if happiness is success for you, there you are!). If it stops bringing you happiness, if it falls through, understand that you are not meant to be in this place forever and you are now free to pursue something new.
You might have many careers and many paths in life. You might have one. You might know your single calling right away, and hear it singing to you from every inch of airspace. You might have to dig and hack away at the tangle of ideas in your mind until you find the diamonds that you want to bring into the light, polish up and show off.
Your journey from an ordinary, stale life to an extraordinary, full of love and joy life is not going to be an easy, swift change. There are no one-click-purchase links for life. Yours is not going to look like anyone else’s.
Your journey will be unique. Who’s ever found the straight road more interesting anyway? Isn’t it always more fun to explore the alleyways, to dance into those places that feel a little more dangerous? These are the choices that create your LIFE.
Let your existence be a grand, ever-changing adventure.
Thank you so much for this badass article, Kenaia!