I've started playing a game with my peers. When they vent to me about work -- describing their cranky bosses, long hours and unfulfilling days -- I ask them a question: If you could do anything, what would you do?
Most of them don't have an answer. Okay, fair enough. Finding your passion and purpose is a tall order.
But to my surprise, most of them haven't really thought about it. At least not lately. They're actually a bit stunned at the very question.
The concept of getting what you want -- the life you really want -- appears alien to some of you, not to mention completely unrealistic. Bills have to be paid and parents/partners have to be pleased. When you start going down one path, heading in another direction can feel downright impossible. And it often involves taking a bunch of steps back -- a task we're all loath to do.
So, chasing a dream is simply a dream. It's way out of reach. That dream life is for someone who hasn't already committed to a career, or someone who has gobs of money or someone with that ethereal free spirit that ever empowers soulful evolution.
But you have this one life. That's it. And believe it or not, you can actually choose to do anything you want with it -- no matter where you are or what you're doing right now.
How is it that most of us haven't thought about what we really want? How is it that we're all in motion -- we've chosen (or are desperately scrambling to find) jobs -- without taking a good hard look inside ourselves to discover those things that will make this one life wonderful? Why all this slogging through days that make us feel drained and grumpy and totally dissatisfied? Why aren't we more compelled to imagine new possibilities?
I think that some of us are scared to even let ourselves capture the dream. Because if we did, then we may just let it hang over us, un-actualized. It would be a nagging daily reminder that we're not living our potential. And changing course means taking risks, and risks are terrifying. But the things we most want in life are often the things that most scare us. Try filling in this blank: "If I only had the guts I would _____." See, the scary things are the greatest things.
It also seems we're just too consumed with what everyone else thinks. We've been groomed to do this -- it's not our fault. We want to fit in. Moving through life in conventional boxes is safe, and we get rewarded with approval for doing so. But shaking off judgment and wriggling out of other people's expectations is the only way to actually find out what it is that will make you happy. The people that love you will still love you -- and those that don't support you probably shouldn't be in your life, anyway. I have found that the people who get the most uncomfortable when I'm manifesting my right life are those that don't have to strength to do it themselves. Anger, ridicule and criticism are tried and true defense mechanisms.
And then of course there's the matter of believing that you could, in fact, manifest that dream life. There are no guarantees and no crystal balls, so it's easy to doubt the possibility. Could little old me actually do it? Maybe it will help to recognize that what matters most at the end of the day is knowing you tried to make your dream your reality. Studies show that at the end of people's lives they regret what they didn't do, not what they did do. We all question ourselves. We just have to take a big dose of self-esteem, a deep breath, and one step at a time.
Being intentional with your life is refreshingly powerful. It means meeting yourself where you are right now and finding out what makes you tick. And then it means deliberating going after it, not wasting any more time.
So, if you could buck off your limitations, if you could gracefully jump over the emotional and financial hurdles, if you could walk through your fear, unscathed, what would you do?
Alexis is at work on her first book about pursuing an inspired life as a twentysomething.
Find Alexis at www.alexissclamberg.com