On Monday I had the privilege of seeing Elizabeth Gilbert speak live about her latest book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I’ve been an avid fan and follower of her since her bestselling Eat Pray Love so experiencing her presence live was something I’ve been excited about for years! And she certainly didn’t disappoint. In that far too short one hour with her, I cried, I laughed and I pondered. And I walked away with three intriguing questions to help you find your life purpose.
Before you dive into those questions, be prepared to think big and magical. Don’t be afraid of having one foot in reality and one with the fairies. As Liz said, ‘You must. We have imagination and it’s meant to be used. It’s far more familiar and long-standing to us than empirical thinking. It’s been used for thousands of years far before empirical thinking even came about.”
As a positive psychology practitioner myself, I love empirical thinking because it helps you get support for your arguments. At the same time, it has the risk of making you lose sight of the bigger picture. You have to be cautious not to fall into the trap of failing to observe things you’re not expected to see. This is why I believe in the holistic approach, an approach that marries all kinds of angles. I base my work on science but equally I love creative thinking because I don’t believe everything in life can be reduced to science.
With that in mind, I want to introduce you to the three questions that will help you explore your life purpose from a completely new angle.
1. Do I trust what I know – or do I need a permission slip to know it?
Give yourself the permission to trust the knowledge you have and use the skills you believe in. So many of us (myself included!) seek for permission from the outside world to share our voice and our work with the world. *Newsflash*: No one can give you that permission except you yourself.
Don’t down play your knowledge and equally, don’t act like you know everything. Do believe in what you do know and use that knowledge to make decisions to your best ability. Seek out new knowledge continuously. You’re a powerful, independent, human being and you have the autonomy and desire to go get the new knowledge you want.
2. What do I love doing so much that I can handle the sh*t sandwich that comes with it?
In life, there will always be some sh*t on the side of all the things you love. That’s life. It creates balance, it’s healthy and it makes you more resilient. So whatever path you take, whatever purpose you’re committing to, make sure you love it so much that you can handle the sh*t that comes on the side of it. Look for the cells of light in the darkness and make sure that light shines way brighter than the darkness around it. Find the thing that brings you joy and makes you glow. And be prepared to handle the crap on the side of it.
This is a brilliant question that originally came from Mark Manson, and it’s one that’s definitely reminded me of why I took the entrepreneurship path. I love the work I do. I love diving into deep, meaningful conversations with my coaching clients. I love the group dynamic when delivering a workshop. I love the way written words flow out of me when I have something real to share. I love the way the audience sits on the edge of their seats in anticipation of hearing my first words when I walk on stage to give a talk. I love all that. But it does come with a side of sh*t.
I am not a fan of admin tasks. Bookkeeping is a pain. Chasing for payment even more so. Learning to sell has been one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever done and still one I’d rather handover to someone else. The stress of being a one woman show. The to-do list that never ends. The boundaries you have to learn to set yourself so you’re not working 24/7. Yes, entrepreneurship comes with a side of sh*t. But I love the work I do so much that I’ll gladly have 10 sides of sh*t to accompany it.
3. What am I willing to start saying no to in order to create the life I want?
I’m all about getting on the no train – especially since Marie Forleo originally introduced me to this. But Liz repeating this made it hit home again. In order to create the life you truly desire, you need to also start saying no to things you actually want to do. Because, more likely than not, you want to do more things than you actually can. This is equally challenging and beautiful in my eyes.
How incredible is it that you have so many ideas and opportunities in front of you? How empowering is it that you have the power to either say yes – or no – to them? This is a question I definitely need to revisit again and again because I get so excited about so many things that I need to stop, reflect and refocus before saying yes. Now, for new opportunities that come my way, my rule is this: If I’m not sure, it’s a no. Basically, it’s either a F*CK YES – or a no. And yes there will be a cost to setting boundaries like these, but it’s the only way to get rid of the disease to please. And it’s the only way to start making the space for the things you want to do even more.
So this is what I took from Liz’s talk and her incredible book Big Magic. I highly recommend it to every single soul on this planet.
As Liz says, “Become a scientist of your own situation and become insanely curious about your own life”. Only by exploring, testing and trialling will you move forward. Occupy your creative mind with something, or it will find something else to do – just like a border collie would.
“Turn your life into a great work of art.” That is what you’re here to do. Live a life that makes you glow and you’ll be spreading that glow all around you.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Pick one of the questions above and write your answer to it in the comments below. This will give you the accountability to follow through with your plans, whilst also inspiring the rest of the Happyologist readers.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it, like it, tweet it, all of it – and you’ll be helping others to live their life purpose and live more fulfilling lives.
That’s it from me this time. Good luck in your adventures & until next time!
P.S. If you’re tempted to explore these questions through coaching, make sure you’re signed-up to my newsletter below – or check on my facebook, twitter or instagram – to get my Crazy Black Friday coaching discount that’s available only for 24 hours this Friday! (Spoiler alert: It’s more than the 33% off I offered back in June!)