“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
I shared this quote from Steve Jobs over on Instagram last week and it generated quite the discussion in my DM’s. As you’d expect, there were a whole lot of different perspectives on the concepts contained in the words. From lamenting the idea that ‘work’ actually does take up a stack of time through to celebrating the fact that we get to decide what defines great work, we collectively had all of the bases covered. But one theme came up more than any other. If I bundled all the thoughts together I’d sum it up as this:
How do you work out what you love to do?
It’s a good question isn’t it, especially if you agree with Jobs’ basic premise that it’s the foundation of great work.
But it can be a hard question to answer. Especially for women. So many of the women I work with, either in my professional life or in my coaching practice wake up one day and feel completely disconnected. Life circumstances, obligations, responsibilities and the desires of partners and children have swamped any dreams they may have had when they were younger. They might know who they love. But they don’t know what they love to do.
If this sounds like you, I have two tips for you today to help you get back in touch with what you love to do.
How to work out what you love to do?
One – Start following breadcrumbs
It was Megan Dalla-Camina who first introduced me to the idea of following breadcrumbs. What does following breadcrumbs actually look like? Well, it involves taking a curious attitude. And being curious enough to take a next step – towards whatever feels right for you.
Here’s my version of following breadcrumbs. When I was a girl, I liked to write. And as an adult, I loved France. So I started blogging about France. And then, because it’s so fabulous, I started writing about French style. My love of French style led me to becoming a Style Coach. That taste of coaching led me to self-belief coaching. In the meantime, I started taking French lessons because I wanted experience France differently when we travelled. And because I love style, I started expanding what I learned about style to styling photographs for my hubby’s pics of France. Which led me to taking my own photos. Today my life is a blend of my day job, writing, coaching, styling and learning – and it continues to evolve (we’ve just opened a waitlist for our fine art photography!!). I couldn’t have told you that this would be my life today when I started on this journey. But this is where I have landed thanks to following breadcrumbs and taking next steps.
Now, it’s one thing to be able to take a next step. It’s another to work out where to start. If you’re feeling stuck, here are the two pointers I give my coaching clients. The first one is to remember back to what you loved as a child. Childhood passions – no matter how basic they may seem – can give you a clue to the thing that has been on your heart forever. The second is to ask yourself what section of a library, bookstore or department store you’d head to if you found yourself locked in overnight.
Two – Start running experiments
Like a scientist running experiments to prove a hypothesis, this tip involves you assuming that you would love to do something based on a known variable or variables. For example, you love yoga and teaching so you might experiment with yoga teacher training. Or you love taking photos of your kids, so you experiment with an entry level photography course. The trick with running experiments is to make sure that you don’t place too much pressure on the outcome. You don’t have to fall head over heels in love with everything you try. All you’re aiming to do is understand if you could love the activity you’re trying. It’s also important not to overcommit here. Keep your experiments manageable – you can always deepen your commitment when you’re clearer on the outcome.
One final thought
If you’ve been reading any of my words – either the ones here or over on Distant Francophile – for any length of time, you can probably guess what I’m going to recommend next….
Take baby steps. Don’t feel you have to get this sorted in a hot minute. It’s taken a while for your disconnection to occur. And although it doesn’t have to, it might take a while for reconnection to happen. Be graceful with yourself and allow yourself to take small steps so you don’t trigger your self-doubt or end up feeling overwhelmed.
Do you know what you love to do? Or is this something that feels a bit crunchy for you? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And until next time – stay fabulous.
Warmest, Janelle x