Cathy Heller, author of Don't Keep Your Day Job, discusses how to take the leap from a life you tolerate into a life you love.
Let me begin with the most basic and important of all truths: Your presence on planet Earth is a serious matter. You are worthy and were created to enjoy every gift that this world has to offer.
As my friend the illustrator and podcaster Andy J. Pizza says, “People love diamonds because they are rare, but what’s more rare than an individual?”
“Whether you believe in God or science, your DNA and the experiences you’ve had make you the most rare thing on the planet,” he says. “There never was and never will be another you. Your existence is the only proof we need that there is something only you can share with the world, something which will make it more whole and more beautiful.”
I bet you read this post because there is something gnawing at you.
It’s not that you don’t feel like you’re enough. A part of you has always known you’re capable of so much, but you’re fed up with playing small or sitting it out. You want to live up to your potential and when you don’t, well, I suspect that’s where anxiety creeps in.
There’s a mission born inside you that is so big and so brilliant that your only option is to live up to that potential or spend the rest of your days in a wasteland of doubt and despair.
Once we begin to understand that how we show up in one area of our lives is how we show up in all areas of our lives, then we can begin working toward a more holistic and integrated state of purpose, success, and happiness.
When you hear that inner wisdom whisper, “You are here to do something great,” listen up! You are about to be led to the exact opportunities that will empower you to share your unique talents with the world.
Most people who are not excited to wake up every day usually do not grasp the breadth and wealth of possibilities. Perhaps you were told your dream was not reasonable or you lacked the strategies to bring it to fruition. I [wrote my book] to help with all of that.
Let’s excavate the old ideas around who you are. Let’s explore what turns you on, what brings you joy, what you want to learn. Let’s start shifting your priorities toward what you want more of in this lifetime.
The more you let things flow into your ecosystem, whether it’s money or love or friends or creativity, the more you have to share. The more you make your well-being a priority, the more you can serve others. The happier you are, the more you give others permission to do whatever makes them happy too.
Because ultimately we’re here to serve. The more you have, the more generous you can be.
Only one-third of people innately know what they’re meant to do. Two-thirds of the world are on a journey to figure out what that is.
The world needs more people who radiate good feelings, who make the things they were put here to make, who live in a state of abundance and in turn inspire others to reach for the stars. True feelings of joy are contagious and give others permission to follow their own bliss. By aspiring to become more conscious versions of ourselves and acting toward our highest potential, we show up in better and truer form for our families and friends.
Once we begin to understand that how we show up in one area of our lives is how we show up in all areas of our lives, then we can begin working toward a more holistic and integrated state of purpose, success, and happiness. This flow state is where we feel powerful and in alignment, whether in a boardroom or a bedroom, on our laptop or on the lap of a friend.
Make your life into art
David Sacks is an incredible writer who shared this simple but super powerful idea: “Make your life into art.” Ask yourself every morning, “How can I serve the world? How can I make a difference for another person?”
Keep leaning into whatever makes you feel more “you” in this moment. As you align with your higher self and have the courage to walk toward whatever is whispering to you, doors will open and you will connect with people who need your gifts.You are consistently led to where you’re needed and what will bring you the most joy.
You can also do what you love and get paid for it. Not only that, but you can get paid very well. But you need to take action, lots of inspired action.
So let’s get started.
Acknowledge the darkness
The first step in this process is acknowledging the darkness. There might be a little or there might be a lot, but it is okay to admit that you are not fine.
We live the lives we’re willing to tolerate.
Maybe something is missing from your life. Maybe you don’t enjoy it as much as you want to. Maybe you have felt this way for a while ... especially when it comes to your profession.
Starting with the darkness might mean saying, “I’m not okay with this nine to five, and I have to accept that. I’m not fine and the reason I’m still sitting at this desk is because I keep telling myself that I’m not good enough or there’s nothing else I can do.” We live the lives we’re willing to tolerate.
Change is a really scary prospect, so a lot of people just keep telling themselves that they are okay. It’s okay to not be okay, but it takes tremendous guts to let your feelings be alright.
Set a goal
If you can truthfully recognize that you’re not living your best life—and you deserve to—you will start the real work.
Sarah Knight, best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, has a method she’s created for transforming feelings of dissatisfaction and overwhelm into something tangible to be changed.
“The first thing you have to do is set a goal,” she said on my podcast. “A goal worth setting is your response to two questions: (1) What’s wrong with my life? (2) Why?”
The internal conversation might look like this: What’s wrong with my life? I don’t get to spend enough time with my kids. Why? Because I can’t seem to get out of work on time.
“Your goal, then, is to get out of work on time,” says Sarah. “Now, how are you going to do that? Break the goal down into small, manageable chunks and hack away at that goal one chunk at a time.”
Know that you are worthy
Our internal work is the first ocean to cross. It starts with this miracle of believing that WE ARE WORTHY. It’s about letting go of the shame and the doubts that ask, “Who am I to have this? Who am I to do this?"
You will need the courage to potentially have your heart broken. We tell ourselves that we don’t want things or experiences because we don’t want to feel inadequate or get rejected. You will learn to be okay with yourself even if someone doesn’t like your creation or you’re not happy with your first try.
You’re going to cultivate the courage to recognize that you don’t have to be perfect. Accepting the process is part of knowing that you’re worth it.
One step leads to another
Now here’s the cool thing. It’s actually quite simple to get back to your true destiny.
Let’s say, for example, you’ve always loved yoga. You start going more regularly and sign up for a teacher training program where you meet a new friend. She tells you about a studio in Costa Rica and you plan a trip together. Once you arrive, you take an afternoon course of Reiki, where you realize this is where you want to focus your energy. This is the power of the process.
What matters most is that you feel a sense of exploration that suggests through inspiration or chance encounters that you’re on the right path.
Or maybe you love talking about movie plots. You’d love to get paid to talk about movies all day! You start with a commitment to post a YouTube video reviewing plot twists each week. The momentum of the weekly videos stirs up new ideas. You’re getting excited about the new formats for reaching a slowly growing audience. You launch a podcast and then evening events where movie fans can come together in person. Now you’re making money talking about movies all day.This is the magic of stepping into the flow.
Trust your path
We can call it the flow, the process, the current, or the spiritual technology. What matters most is that you feel a sense of exploration that suggests through inspiration or chance encounters that you’re on the right path.
You might find yourself saying, “I don’t know why, but maybe I should do this.” As life leads you, you can stop stressing about what happens next.You surrender the how by staying aligned with the opportunities or ideas that most excite you, and things start to line up.
Enthusiasm lights up the brain more than anything else. “Choose the path that you are most enthusiastic about,” encourages author Danielle LaPorte.
“Enthusiasm is a heightened state of consciousness. Enthusiasm actually vibrates at a higher level than happiness or interests or contentment,” she says.
Clarity will follow action. We get clues of what to do next at each stage of the process. No one knows how the path will evolve.
You learn to trust your intuition and move toward what feels good, where people are excited about your work, and where you sense greater opportunities to come. Just like a scavenger hunt, you’ll receive clues each step of the way that will eventually lead to your purpose.
Embrace your purpose
“Happiness is all about purpose,” says Binny Freedman, lecturer and inspirational educator. As we lean into how we contribute to the planet, we develop a deep sense of contentment, which has the power to change our relationships. We get meaning from giving a part of ourselves to others and making a sacrifice for the betterment of others.
We have to take this concept of purpose off its pedestal and start interacting with it in our everyday lives. Stop thinking of purpose with a capital “P.” Start looking for purpose and meaning where it already exists and where you can build more of it. Bring these concepts back down to Earth and brush off the pressure that we need one, all-defining purpose. Purpose might be making a phone call, taking an extra moment to connect with a colleague, or reframing a self-defeating idea about our work.
Take your time and be patient
I personally feel more energized than I ever have in my entire life because I choose to be of service every single day. There’s a feeling beyond happy that’s on the other side of every situation that pushes you to become more and serve the world. I’m obsessed with the climb—I crave that feeling of making the world better and expressing myself.
But it takes patience to develop and recognize your calling. We live in a dangerous time because we have lost reverence for the long game. We’ve lost the understanding that everything happens over time, and we are impatient when it comes to the journey.
We’ve lost the understanding that everything happens over time, and we are impatient when it comes to the journey.
You want to know something? Google it. You want something delivered? Order it.
We’re talking about your life’s work here! Think of the greatest novels you’ve ever read: Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist or Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. You have to take the journey.
Emily Esfahani Smith was on the podcast, and she explained that only one-third of people innately know what they’re meant to do. Two-thirds of the world are on a journey to figure out what that is.
What we tend to do is label anything other than relatively instantaneous success as failure. Most of us don’t figure out our life’s work on the first try, but it’s that brave first step that leads you there.
Creative people are always waiting for the fairy art mother to show up. They’re waiting for Hagrid to tell them that they’re actually a wizard. I always say, ‘Look, Hagrid is not coming.’
You have to look in the mirror and figure out what kind of magic you’ve got. We have this fairy art mother mentality because in the past there were hundreds of talent scouts and agents who were looking for people with untapped potential. These gatekeepers realized that they didn’t have to expend resources on scouts as creative industries changed. The talent rises to the top on the Internet. Now, it is not a meritocracy. It is not a perfect thing, but if someone proves that they can build an audience, then they’re a good bet. There’s no one out there looking for untapped potential anymore. What I suggest is be your own Hagrid.
In today’s creative landscape, you choose when you’re ready to start.