A Profound Idea that Can Change Your Life

Jul 11, 2012

Photo by the amazing Tracey Clark

I loved WDS this year. Last year, I was pretty “meh” about the whole thing but this year, I was deeply nourished – by the beautiful job Jolie and Chris did, by the speakers, by new connections, and by me. Because I stayed engaged. I stayed in relationship. I belonged to myself.

What about the profound idea?

It came from wunderkind Cal Newport’s  talk. I’m already a fan and after I got over the fact he is 12 (at least in appearance), I was pumping my fist at his ideas, especially this one::

You can’t figure it out in the abstract

and

Don’t give up when it gets hard. That doesn’t necessarily mean you are on the wrong path

Consider::

Do you keep thinking about ________ (writing a book, raising money for a cause, traveling) but not actually taking action?

Or

Do you take action, and then, when something goes wrong or feels hard/uncertain/uncomfortable, do you say “It must not be meant to be” or “If it’s so hard, it must not be my passion”?

I ask because I have done this more times than I care to remember and it has hurt me. The abstract kills more people’s hearts then politics and reality TV combined. Nothing ever happens in the abstract.

Action = life lived rather than life thought about.

But you know that. It’s actually the second part – the passion part – that trips more people up.

I had the kind of early success that few writers ever experience — selling close to a million books, being on Oprah, creating a very popular website in the wee early days of the interwebs- and I did not build this success into its full expression because I believed it wasn’t my passion.

That is painful to admit.

Of course, there were other factors in play but the one that drained my heart energy, the one that made me exhausted and ill, was doubt. Passion doubt.

I’m not saying your work has to be hard. Hard can signal something needs to change. But before it becomes a passion question (or a relationship question as in should I be with this person??) look around. Do you need to say no to some things, get more sleep, ask for more support, focus on what you really want to create instead of the seven other “good” ideas? Do you need to change your diet, work with your mood, get outside more?

We dismiss the simple tweaks and go at our careers or relationships with a chain saw.

Creating something worthwhile is really hard. It takes a long time. Thinking about passion doesn’t get you anywhere but it is sure a whole lot easier.

The profound idea(s) I am trying my best to live::

  • Stop thinking, planning and worrying about life purpose and do.
  • Get comfortable with uncertainty and challenge. There is no need to get discouraged when it gets tough.
  • If it life feels like a impossible uphill climb, look around at what else needs to shift or soften.
  • Proceed at the exquisite work of learning your craft and crafting a life that reflects your passions in action.

Thoughts?? Push back? Refinement?? I can’t wait to hear.

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