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Day 94 – Role Models: Setting New Directions

Setting New Directions by Lori Deschene

When I chose to study writing and acting in college, I assumed that it would all work out when I graduated. Once I was in the real world, my confidence started to falter. I realized I’d have to struggle, and I began talking myself out of my dreams.

In my first job out of college, I provided respite services for adults with developmental disabilities. I’d pick them up, take them out for a recreational activity, and then bring them back home. When I switched to a residential environment and one of the clients tried to stab me with scissors, I decided the job wasn’t for me.

From there I fell into sales. I sold countless overpriced vacuums by convincing customers the $500 investment would preserve their carpets and save money in the long run. After a while, it occurred to me that I wouldn’t spend that money on a vacuum. Overnight I developed an up-sell constricting conscience that limited my earning potential.

In my mid-20s I fell into mobile marketing, which allowed me to travel around the country with promotional campaigns. After my sixth tour I realized I couldn’t make it a long-term career if I wanted to put down roots and maintain relationships.

I asked my friend who owned a yoga studio how she knew what she was meant to do. I’d worn many different hats, but none of them gave me a sense of purpose. She made a Captain Obvious observation that seemed unhelpful at first, but was actually reassuring.

“You’re figuring out what you don’t want to do, and that’s progress.”

I realized then that if I was ever going to feel fulfilled by my work, I needed to change my thinking on a few levels:

1. I had to stop assuming the work I’d love would be impossible to get.

2. I needed to take the pressure off finding the “perfect job.”

3. I had to accept that finding a situation that felt right might be a long-term project–one that might involve a lot of trial and error.

I’ve been trying and erring for years and my purpose and desires continue to evolve.

Since I started writing professionally in 2006, I’ve realized I don’t want to write full-time. I’m eternally grateful that I’m now able to write about ideas that matter to me, but I’ve discovered that I also want more.

That realization is progress.

It started as “I want to be a writer.”

It turned into “It’s too hard to be a writer–what else would be fun?”

That became, “I will write, even if I have to take every unpaid Craigslist gig I can find.”

That evolved into, “Now I’m a writer, but something is missing.”

And right now it’s, “I’m writing full-time but I’d like to spend more time engaging with people and doing physical activities.”

I’ve been on a long journey of do, adjust, do, to create a work life that feels balanced, meaningful, and satisfying. Just being on the journey with intention, courage, and commitment feels like a major success.

Finding your passion isn’t about identifying a concrete vision and getting there as fast as possible. It’s about jumping in, exploring, paying attention to how you feel, and then making changes as you go if necessary. Some of those changes will be minor adjustments; some might be major life decisions.

What matters is that we do. That we’re honest with ourselves about what we want, take strides to create it, and then have the courage to change courses if and when it feels right.

Satisfaction is in the doing and adjusting. Meaning is in the journey itself.

Lori Deschene is the Founder of tinybuddha.com and @tinybuddha, a daily wisdom Twitter account with more than 210,000 followers. She is also the author of the eBook Tiny Buddha’s Handbook for Peace and Happiness, and Tiny Buddha, Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hardest Questions, available in stores in January, 2011.