“How do I know what to do with my life?”
That’s a BIG question I get asked over and over.
In order to know what to do with your life, you have to first know one key thing: You are not looking for a “new, better job”, you are not looking for a “fresh start”, you are not looking for a “life makeover”.
You are looking for a feeling.
My discovery of this was a wonderful unfolding, though I wish I knew back in 2000 what I know now, when I began my own “what to do with your life” quest.
When I left my finance career, abandoning financial security and selling my house to support my dream, people used to say to me, “You’re lucky you know what you want to do with your life.”
Subtext: “Most of us don’t.”
But I did. Or so I thought.
I told everyone I was going to become an actor. Acting was the one thing I always loved doing, taking theatre classes since I was a little boy, reading every play I could get my hands on, studying it in school, winning awards and having genuine talent for it. I was also obsessed with all things arts and entertainment. And I regretted not having moved to LA as I had intended to (I really should have been cast on The Young & The Restless as a villain. Live and learn.)
But I wasn’t going to let another year go by without at least trying.
Stepping into a scene study class with other acting students I felt home again in a way no experience in finance made me feel. I auditioned for a play and on the first day officially no longer in finance got a call from the director at 9 am offering me the part (I loved that sign from the Universe). That part got me an agent, who then got me auditions which led to some teeny tiny film and commercial work.
But after a while something wasn’t sitting right with me. As I auditioned for this and that, I would be told I was too tall for some gigs, too dark haired for others, too gay, not gay enough, to ethnic looking, too fit, not fit enough.
After a while I absolutely hated that doing what I wanted to do was in someone else’s control.
So I started to do other things. I wrote, I landed a radio show and another radio show. I interviewed people and told their stories, sometimes on TV, sometimes on radio, sometimes in writing. I began to book live hosting gigs. Along the way I started a #ThoughtRevolution workshop series. I created podcasts. Today I also coach people on how to have a #ThoughtRevolution around whatever subject is important to them.
And the acting thing? Fell by the wayside. Not because I didn’t or don’t want to, but because I realized something huge:
I never left finance to act.
When I said I wanted to be an actor, what I was really saying was “I want to have a life where as much of it as possible sees me feeling how I do when I act. When I am “on”, when I am rehearsing, when I am working with creative people, when my imagination is going, I am at my absolute most joyful. I want to feel my absolute most joyful with what I do with my life.”
Everything I do today makes me joyful. I got what I truly wanted when I left finance, even though it wasn’t what I thought I wanted.
You are looking for a feeling and unless a new career or your life overhaul is going to give you that feeling, you will keep looking and looking, thinking you are looking for something you are not.
In order to know what to do with your life you have to first know what brings you joy. In order to know what you want to do with your life, you have to know that feeling of “there is nothing else I want to be doing”. >Tweet this!
If you already know what brings you joy, you are on the right path. Use it as your guidance system as you pick and choose change in your life.
If you don’t know, you’re in for the ride of your life. Because as I learned, there is so much out there that brings you joy, you only have to give yourself permission to explore. What are the things that you do that make you feel like you are “home” the way I did when I stepped into that acting class?
Need help with this? Pick my brain.
I’d love to hear from you. What are the things that bring you joy, and how did you discover them? What should other people who read this do to discover their joy? Share your wisdom in the comments below.