Author, theologian, and civil rights leader Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Anything that doesn’t move you toward your ultimate potential is a detour, a temporary setback — pursuing your true north should be your ultimate purpose in life. Everything else is secondary.
Albert Einstein spent his entire career re-imagining physics —his ideas and theories were so revolutionary, he changed the way the Universe was imagined, not just once, but several times.
Einstein was an embodiment of genius, eccentricity and free-thinking. He pursued his true north, enjoyed the journey in the process and changed our perception about the universe.
It’s far more interesting to bet on yourself and find the guts you need to produce, create, make, do and be the one who says ‘go’.
When you pursue projects, activities and your personal true north, you’re believing in your potential. You’re believing in your capabilities. You are choosing yourself and given yourself the rare opportunity to live life to the fullest — a life of meaning, purpose, happiness and fulfilment.
In a world, where conformity is the norm, you are likely to have the most impact when you do what makes you come alive.
I choose myself ten years ago. I stopped hedging my bets and committed fully to my becoming the best version of myself without permission. I’ve never looked back. Today, I have no regrets about that decision. It was a difficult choice but I’m happy I pursued my true north.
Today, I write blog posts, sell ebooks and courses and make a living from other projects. I’ve also written a book, Working in the Gig Economy: How to Thrive and Succeed When You Choose to Work for Yourself in partnership with a traditional publisher in London.
I also run a self-sustaining small business blog (AllTopStartups) that attracts sponsorships from businesses of all sizes. I’ve also been fortunate to work with dozens of high-profile technology companies. And I also run Postanly Weekly, a personal improvement newsletter with over 40,000 subscribers).
I make a living from multiple income sources, including sponsorships, book sales, courses, affiliates, and the Medium partner program.
Admittedly, it’s not easy to pursue what makes us feel alive. Many of us feel trapped by a lot of circumstances and events beyond our control.
But here’s the good news, you don’t have to stop everything you are doing today to pursue what makes you come alive. You can make, find or create quality time for what you really want to do.
Just revisit your schedule again and use those free minutes or hours available to you to start a side project that makes you lose yourself.
While you live, while it’s in your power, seize the opportunity right now and do more of what brings out the best in you.
When we feel alive we give off a powerful energy that can even inspire those around us. That energy is vital — not only to ourselves — but to our families, those close to us everyone else who also stand to benefit from it.
“So it’s incumbent upon each of us to figure out what makes us come alive — and go do it. Far from self-indulgent, it’s a critical act of service in a challenging world,” writes Doug Sundheim of Forbes.
The signals pointing to what makes you feel alive are all around you. You just have to pay attention and listen fully to yourself.
What makes you “come alive” and what makes you “lose yourself” are the moments when you feel nothing but joy. These are the moments of bliss when all the noise and everything in your head stops, and you so totally in the moment, you lose track of time.
For me, creative writing makes me come alive. Quality time with my family, travelling, exploring different cultures, being in nature, great conversations with smart people, visiting art museums, learning a new skill, reading great books and articles, discovering and listening beautiful music, watching documentaries and movies about human intelligence— all of these things make me come alive.
Here’s a short exercise to help you figure it out what makes you come alive
- Get a journal (set a timer for 5 minutes and start writing!)
- Write down boldly at the top of the page, “I feel most alive when…”
- Write down every skill, task, activity, job, project, etc that makes you come alive or better still lose your sense of time when you are doing it.
- Don’t overthink it, just write everything that comes to mind.
- Don’t put your pen down until the timer goes off. Just keep writing. You don’t have to share them. Just write.
Now, here’s the moment of truth — look back at what you wrote. Are you doing any of the things you wrote down?
Are those things a part of daily life? If not, start scheduling a few of those in your life and keep experimenting to find out what you can commit to in the long-term to lead a purposeful life.
Every week, ask yourself — what should I be doing more of? Within a month you’ll see patterns. Those patterns point to where you should be placing your bets to come alive.
“Feeling alive is a noble pursuit. Keep exploring to better understand the circumstances in which you feel most alive. Your journey is one of the most important gifts you can give yourself, says Doug.
Don’t be afraid of the unknown if you decide to bet on yourself because everything is unknown. Whether the outcome is magnificent or eternal, whether it changes people’s lives, changes the world, changes you or groundbreaking, it matters that you show up every day and do more of it to reap the full benefits.
If you pursue your dreams long enough, compounding takes effect. Momentum will surge. Today, choose to do something interesting, meaningful, different, amazing and truly remarkable. You have a choice. Choose to come alive.
Don’t be subject to the tyranny of “how things have always been done”. Find your true north and push past the default. Give yourself time in your life to wonder what’s possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction.
This article first appeared on Medium.