Bonnie Ware wrote a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. After spending time with those nearing death she found the number one regret:
I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expect of me.
Too often we live our lives quieting our own desires as we try to meet the expectations of others.
I wonder who wins? I mean, at the end of those people’s lives will it really matter if you did what they wanted?
It’s time to listen to your inner voice. The longing you have that burns within you, tired of being silenced. And you need to answer that one little question that shouts-“What if?”
What if you went after what you really felt called to do?
What if you spit in the face of fear and kept going?
What if __________?
As long as we’re breathing, there’s still time. The time is now.
Look at the things that have been stopping you.
Fear is an obstacle to face
Too often we let fear win. We believe the obstacle is too large, or that maybe it’s too late for us.
Well, it’s not too late. Time is going to go by either way. Isn’t it time to go for it?
In high school, when it was time for Driver’s Ed, my dad would not sign for me. Since I was afraid to drive anyway, I never learned how. Then when I was in my 30’s, as a married person whose husband was in the military, I started thinking about learning to drive. But I was still afraid.
And yet, my desire to take care of my child was bigger than my fears. Or at least enough for me to face them. So I learned how to drive in hilly Colorado with a stick shift. I did it.
What does responsible look like?
We grow into adults following one set of rules religiously. But what if it’s the wrong set?
Too often we listen to the voices of others, silencing the ones within us. My friend Jeff Goins has written a book, The Art of Work, which really challenged me in the area of calling.
Each person is responsible to not only do what she is capable of, but also what she is meant to do.
Do obstacles stop you?
What do you do when you are met with an obstacle? Freeze? Retreat? Start questioning yourself?
Maybe you do all three. I know I’ve let obstacles block my path. And I’ve questioned if I was even right in the first place. In his book, Jeff says,
We may even be able to celebrate setbacks and trials, the things that once seemed so daunting, knowing they are all signs that we are on our way.
Pain used to stop me
My life is riddled with losses. One after the other they rendered me immobile. At times I’d work them into my writings, into my talks. But I saw them as intrusions on my way to my calling.
In 2013, one week after I launched my first book, Real Love, my brother Steve had a heart attack and died.
I froze. How could I promote my book? I couldn’t even think about it.
For a while after his death, I just went through the motions of writing.
But in 2014, I listened to the voice within me. I embraced my pain and wrote my memoir, Broken: A story of Abuse and Survival. It was one of the hardest things I did.
Finding your life’s work is not easy. It may, in fact, cause you more pain than comfort, but it will be worth the cost.
Jeff’s book validated my pain, and I saw it was a viable part of my journey. My experiences were intertwined with my calling.
What I’ve learned
Jeff’s book taught me to look at my life and recurring themes and patterns.
I am now looking for opportunities, and expecting doors to open. I view detours as necessary steps on my journey. Children’s books started bubbling out of me, after writing Broken.
Writing children’s books was a different direction, but still part of the whole picture. Something I would have missed, had I not been willing to walk into my pain.
I’m determined to fulfill my calling of writing and speaking. It doesn’t matter if others are doing similar things. My life experiences and how I respond to them makes what I have to offer unique.
It’s one shaky step at a time. But I’ll know when I take my last breath that I’ve been responsible in pursuing what I was called to do. I’m living my life.
If you need help on your way to your calling, or you have any questions at all, I highly recommend The Art of Work. You can order it here.
It will change the way you think, and maybe it’ll change your life too.