“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman
The idea that you should follow your heart and the rest will follow is not news. Many of us have been given this guidance by our parents, mentors, or even some of the world’s greatest achievers. Still, how often do we find ourselves ignoring this advice? Perhaps you’ve stayed in a job you hated because the money was good, or remained in a failing relationship because you were provided for. How many times have you ignored that screaming feeling in your gut to “GET OUT!” because it’s more comfortable to stay?
But maybe you’re just not inspired by your work any longer. Maybe you really dislike what you do. Maybe the marriage is done. Maybe there’s a rattle inside for something more or different that keeps nudging you, and you can’t ignore it any longer. Is your logic, your family, your mortgage, or maybe even your ego keeping you from doing what you want to do?
Here is the tough love…you are trading your life for what you have.
Your logic is going to fight you on following your heart. It will start screaming the minute you even begin to think about doing so. It will tell you that you can’t make money doing what you love, that you don’t have the skills you need, or even that you are too old or too young. Here’s the thing — nothing great has ever been achieved because it was logical. Does putting a man on the moon seem logical to you?
Logic weighs the pros and cons. It uses the knowledge and skills you have gained up until now, which even if immense, are limited. What you are looking for is not in what you already know; it’s in what you would love. Great accomplishments are not birthed by our knowledge and experience; they are birthed in our imagination, in our willingness to follow our longings and seek what will dissolve our discontents.
Our tendency is to try to figure out “how.” How can I make a living doing what I love? How can I pay the mortgage if I give up my job? How can I keep my lifestyle if I divorce? How, how, how? It is not your place to figure out “how.” Those questions will be answered when you figure out “what.” What would I love? What would it feel like to have ________? What would my life be like if it all worked out? What would I do if I knew I could not fail?
Start by using your imagination to define the “what.” You have not committed to doing anything. Just envision the life you would love to live. Imagine five years down the road if you didn’t follow your dream, and then, if you did. Which one feels expansive? Ask yourself honestly if you are willing to continue trading your life for what you have instead of creating the life you love living.
If you conclude that the best path is to follow your heart, then the next step is to commit to change. Then, take actions in the direction of that decision. Know that a radical change does not have to happen all at once. There may be many things that need to shift, both outside of you and inside of you. As long as the commitment is there, you have started down the path to your passion.
It’s okay to feel fear as you embark on this journey. Following your intuition, your passion, and your heart gives you the power, the confidence, and the persistence to forge ahead — and to fall flat on your face and get back up. This level of power doesn’t exist when it’s just about the money or prestige. This new level of power will engage you, and may surprise you. You have what it takes to do this.
Tracy Williams is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.