Stop trying to find yourself. Create yourself

Several years ago, at the start of my consulting career, I had a manager who wanted to open me up to countless opportunities and possibilities. She cared for my development and knew that I needed exposure to all kinds of work. She told me that it would be best for me to, “sample from the buffet,” rather than to become a specialist in a given area.

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As I grew in my career, I remember turning back to her and thanking her for guiding me in the direction she did. But it was the words she said next that I really remembered:

“Now that you’ve grown and gotten started, don’t be concerned with finding your calling. Create the career you want.”

This is a critically important mental shift that every successful entrepreneur, creative, businesswoman, and leader must make in their career and life. Focus on creating the life that you want. You have the tools that you need at your disposal. It takes willpower, imagination, and desire. You must be willing to be a lifelong learner. Your education starts today.

How to Start Creating Your Life

The only journey is the journey within.— Rainer Maria Rilke

It’s critical for us to break down creating our self by the five popular questions:

Why, How, What, When and Who. This beginning work gives us clarity and definition. Surely, your’e familiar with the Why part. But let’s take a closer look at the other questions to help us determine our course.

How? — How are you looking to grow? Which methods and ways will you follow for creating the life that you want? If you desire to get into television or digital video, then you likely already know your medium. You can purchase a camera, begin starring in your own videos, or producing them for others. You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission to get started.

You can start creating now.

How should focus on the process. It should focus on the “vehicles” that you will use to take you where you want to go.

When? — What are you putting off today that you can get started on? The When question is all about timing. If you have a very busy life and schedule now, maybe you don’t have the time for a creative endeavor. So, look at your schedule and identify when you will. If you know you’re making excuses, then snap out of it and start coming up with solutions. What’s your excuse?

Chances are, you do have the time. You simply haven’t chosen to prioritize. Once you make time for beginning a new venture or creating a new image for yourself, you’ll realize the boldness of this power and the creative juices will start flowing.

Who? — Which part of you are you looking to grow? You may have the physical part of things down, but emotionally you could benefit from boosting your emotional intelligence. Or perhaps you’re looking to become a better writer. Maybe you want to read more books. Who are you now, and who do you want to become?

What? — The what is about visualization. There’s a reason that visualization is so important. Because it puts us at the finish line. It enables us to see the end-result, so we can get really great at reverse-engineering and crushing it on executing the process. Focus on one thing. It will help you get started faster and with greater clarity.

Why? — Why are we looking to grow? What is the purpose? We may have more than one purpose. But it should be something that amounts to a true “Why” for living. Before we commit ourselves to expend our most precious resource (time) we should always know why we’re doing what we’re doing. The Why question is imperative to answer.

Knowing your Why will dramatically reduce wasted time and unnecessary effort. It will move you much faster toward your goals.

Don’t be Afraid to Fail

Any time that you’re looking to create something, you’re going to be taking on risk. The more risk that you take on, the greater likelihood that you will have temporary setbacks. A temporary setback is a failure that you grow and profit from. It’s important to embrace a willingness to make mistakes and to know that failures are a part of everyone’s journey.

Dr. Alan D. Castel writes in Psychology Today:

“You will remember things for a longer time if you are first lost in the learning process, and then discover a deeper understanding of what you are learning. The same is true for most life challenges — we often remember challenges and mistakes we made, and what was learned from these failures. Sometimes a little failure early in the learning process can be a good thing.”

Don’t be afraid to fail. Be concerned if you’re unwilling to keep going once you do fail. This is where the importance of being a lifelong learner comes in! We become more self-aware if we’re willing to put in the work, invest in ourselves and refuse to accept the status quo. None of us are doomed to a particular fate if we’re willing to step-up and fight for what we want.

Don’t live your whole life behind the comfortable confines of a computer screen. You may be able to meet your boyfriend or wife online. You can start a business online. But don’t live your entire life online. There’s nothing quite like real personal connection — right in your community, right where you are — that will elevate you and lead to opportunities that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The ideal that we’re working toward is to have a symbiotic relationship between our personal and professional lives. One where the person we are with our family and friends is similar in virtue, desires and values to the person we are in our professional work and ambition. This is really the foundation for creating yourself.

Thoughts on Purpose

“ Satisfaction and success come from doing things you are meant to do and doing them for the right reasons. You have the chance to pursue your life calling. However, you must reflect internally before moving forward. When we know ourselves, we grow ourselves.”

I’ll conclude with saying that I’ve found my purpose in life by creating and doing, not by spending too much time drafting and planning the perfect life. I say this not to diminish the importance of planning. I say this because sooner or later, you need to jump in to the deep-end of the pool.

It took me a while to figure this out. I’m a dreamer. A futurist. I’m someone who loves to imagine and become the architect for big, robust plans. But I’ve also learned that we have to put ourselves out there and get started. I’ve also learned that I have several purposes for my life. I don’t just want to be a bestselling author and entrepreneur.

I want to be a great father and family man. Take this from author, John Coleman:

“Most of us will have multiple sources of purpose in our lives… [Mother Teresa served the poor as part of what she believed was a higher calling. Marie Curie, the Nobel prize–winning scientist, was also a devoted wife and mother (she wrote a biography of her husband Pierre, and one of her daughters, Irene, won her own Nobel prize).

For me, I find purpose in my children, my marriage, my faith, my writing, my work, and my community. For almost everyone, there’s no one thing we can find. It’s not purpose but purposes we are looking for — the multiple sources of meaning that help us find value in our work and lives. Professional commitments are only one component of this meaning, and often our work isn’t central to our purpose but a means to helping others, including our families and communities.” Source: HBR

Think about those multiple sources of meaning for you. Think about how they tie back to the five core questions above. And then, get started on creating the life that you’ve always wanted for yourself!

Create What You Truly Want

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This article first appeared on Medium

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