Many of us ask the question, “What should I do with my life?”
It seems like a question that is asked just as much as the age old philosophical question/quandary, “What is the meaning of life?” Well, allow me to attempt to find an answer to both of these questions based on my amalgamation of experience as a TV news reporter/college professor/curriculum writer/blogger/lover of life.
I’ve been running into many people lately from varied walks of life and different ages who are trying to figure out what their passion is. Rich or poor — gay or straight — black or white, so many are struggling with what that “thing” is that enlivens them and brings them joy. I’ve certainly struggled to find that “thing” through my own struggles in life; losing my job, losing four family members in eight short months and sometimes losing hope.
When my students and mentees inquire about my career path and ask what they should do with theirs, I tell them to do this exercise:
“When you go to bed tonight, close your eyes and let go of your worries. You probably had dinner, so you’re not hungry. The lights are off so no one is watching in judgment. Think about what would excite you out of bed tomorrow morning. That’s probably what you should be focused on doing in your life.”
Then take it a step further. Now that you’ve ignited that spark of passion, think about how you can turn that into a brighter flame and then into a fully-fledged fire that is lit underneath you. Then ask yourself, “What can I do with it to make a living and help others?”
One of my students, Devin Williams, is one of the most brilliant video editors I’ve come across. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing him come into and embrace his power of editing videos. Devin’s former dream was to be a pro basketball player. He had his mind set. That’s all he wanted to do — until he took my beginner video class. He said, “Toan, I found my passion, that fire, that butterfly effect in my belly in your class. I became obsessed with telling stories with video and sound bites. I love editing and want to get better and better.” Devin then took my vlogging class and has been offered a couple of paid freelance gigs.
I too remember feeling that fire — my passion, however, was for using my voice to help inspire people to help others. You can ask my college professors, specifically Michael Robertson, the former chair of Communications at the University of San Francisco and he’ll tell you even he had some doubts about “young Toan’s” overambitious zest for using storytelling to inspire people. Robertson was a chiseled former journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle and he knew how the harsh news beast could brutalize young idealists like me. But I was adamant about using my power — of storytelling and connecting with people to help people discover and use their powers to help others. My path led me to reporting gigs in Wisconsin, Texas and then San Francisco — until it guided me to forge my own path through my social media site GoInspireGo.com.
For those of you who are struggling to find meaning in your job or your personal life, I dare you to do the aforementioned exercise. Pay attention to that little fire inside your belly that you’re putting on the backburner. What is that “thing” that makes you special? What do you love to do? Why aren’t you doing it?
I’d love to hear about how you’re using your power to help others.