Self-Discovery Is A Moving Target

October 27, 2008

I’m about halfway through the “Find Your True Calling” study group in the Fast Track Your Dream program. We have reading and exercises to do every week to learn more about our natural gifts, talents, and passions, so I’m getting used to being surprised by some of my own responses. But I wasn’t ready to be so surprised when answering questions from a different source about my creative career change.

I was responding to a questionnaire for the Fast Track program about what I’ve discovered in my journey so far. One question asked me if I could sketch out an ideal day at work. This is an exercise I’ve done before so I just dove in and started typing my response.

I wrote out the scenario and then read over it. I was surprised to see that I was describing different stages of planning, research, interviewing, and writing or producing stories on people’s creative career changes and other encouraging examples of personal growth. IMy ideal work day was filled with writing articles, producing audio pieces, and even having a hand in creating documentary style video pieces. It was all about finding and telling people’s compelling stories.

And I wrote next to nothing about coaching.

I found the coaching reference as I read through, but it was veiled. I mentioned “mentoring” people one-on-one or in small groups to help them develop their creativity and find the courage to take risks. But it wasn’t clearly stated as coaching at first. After thinking about it carefully and asking myself if that mentorship would be coaching, I realized I would include a session or two of coaching each day. But it wasn’t the focus of this ideal day.

There are two conclusions from this exercise. First, when I didn’t filter it or think too hard about it, I wrote that I would enjoy finding and researching and presenting stories about personal growth. It sounded pretty enjoyable and interesting as I wrote it. This is the fourth or fifth time for me to use this sort of exercise, and the first time my answer has flowed easily. The description has been the most congruent with who I am. Many other conversations and revelations are pointing me towards developing my ability to tell stories in different media. I need to honor that.

The second conclusion is that the exercises that help uncover gifts, talents, and passions to find your true calling are not exact, consistent, or binding. As I have focused on going through the exercises for my study group, I’m coming up with answers that are a little different, leaving behind some things that I thought might be important a few months back and adding other things I wasn’t sure about including in the past.

These kinds of exercises are helpful for getting to know myself better, but they don’t lead to a clear description of a creative job or business. They show me a variety of activities I might enjoy, and they point to values I need to honor to have fulfillment and authentic happiness. But it’s not clear which things will define my work and which things will be hobbies or recreation. And since I change over time, so do my answers.

The voice of Barbara Winter is whispering in my ear. It’s okay, she talks a lot about the muse of entrepreneurial inspiration, so when the muse shows up for me she has Barbara’s voice. The muse is telling me the secret to happiness with work might be devoting time to all my interests – even if I have to do that over time and not all at once – and honoring all my values, but always approaching an activity with the question of how I can generate money doing it.

The creativity of that perspective brings happiness and meaning and curiosity-piquing challenges. That’s probably why Barbara loves what she’s doing and has no plans of retiring ever. She looks forward to stretching herself to try new things. Her business is her plan for personal growth, authentic living, and increased enjoyment in life.

I hope we all have the chance to feel the power of that self-created freedom.

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey


One Response to “Self-Discovery Is A Moving Target”

  1. Darcy on October 28th, 2008 9:50 am

    Wow, what a lot to think about. I really admire how much you are throwing yourself into these exercises. I want to follow your example.

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