I have a friend who was preparing for the Navy SEALS bootcamp. It’s the most extreme and intense bootcamp in the military that serves as a vetting tool, ensuring that only the toughest and strongest applicants…
I remember this moment like it was yesterday. Mid July. Sometime past midnight. Driving through Las Vegas in our 1982 Volvo. Though the Volvo is, by my standards, a really fantastic car, it was lacking…
Leo Babauta is a blogger, author, and teacher. He is the creator of the popular blog zen habits.com. Leo’s work and expertise centers on personal change. I had the opportunity to speak with Leo about…
“It was fun to have the majority of my life completely up in the air,” said no one ever.
Change can do a lot things. Change can make life better. Change can fix big problems. Change can get you more money, more time, more meaning, more impact. And change can leave you with less of those things.
But no matter what, change is painful.
Why? Because even the most adventurous of us like to feel comfortable sometimes. We like stability and consistency in many parts of life.
The hard truth is that finding purpose, passion, and calling requires a great deal of change.
As a result, few enter fully into the quest for meaning without some outside force initiating it. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just how it is.
All Great Stories Start Somewhere
In story form, all great stories have an inciting incident. It’s that thing that jumpstarts the story and interrupts the main character’s life as usual. A good inciting incident moves a story forward and points directly to the climax and resolution.
The reason we love when stories that have these kinds of moments is that we relate to them. We’ve all had some version of normal and everyday life, and then had it interrupted and ripped away by something outside of our control. We’ve all been pushed from places of comfort and simplicity into struggle and complexity. We know what it’s like, so inciting incidents speak truth to us about ourselves and about our lives.
As I’ve worked with clients, there’s always a reason that they’ve sought me out. Something has happened (or hasn’t happened) that has disrupted their vision for themselves and their work.
No one signs up to do deep soul searching work without a reason. It’s too challenging.
If the choice is between Netflix and hard work, there has to be a reason to choose the work.
Though the specifics vary greatly from one person to the next, I wanted to explore the common events in life that propel us into conversations about calling, life direction, passion and purpose.
My guess is that something on this list will resonate with you. Likely you’ve been through a number of these experiences, but one or two in particular has challenged you to ask questions about your identity and life’s work. I’d like to know which ones.
I went to a going away party for a friend not long after I started this blog. I was excited. This was the birth of a dream. It was scary, fun, and vulnerable.
It’s vulnerable to make something you care about public. Suddenly all of your dreams and hopes manifest in something that people can interact with and respond to. And they will respond.
Sometimes the response is a swell of goodness and resonance. Other times you get push back, questioning looks, and even criticism.
Most times it’s some mix of both.
I ran into a friend at this party and she mentioned the blog and how excited she was for what I was doing. I was thrilled to talk about it— it was all so fresh. I pulled out some cards I made for the site that I was equally excited about.
That’s when I became aware that someone else had entered the room. My friend turned and introduced me to a big man in a bright Hawaiian shirt. Within seconds I noted how he carried himself with a cocky swagger and a certain coolness.
He took my card from my friend and said, “What’s this?”
“It’s just something I made…” I said, trying to blow it off and get out of what was about to happen.
“It’s a card for Dan’s new project! Isn’t it cool?” She replied.
He studied the card closely, and made a hmm sound.
“Yeah. The colors here are too distracting. And the period… I don’t like the period. (I do graphic design on the side.) And the name… *tsk tsk*,” shaking his head, “… the name shouldn’t be written like that. The Meaning Movement, I don’t really get it…”
Then he handed me the card and said, “Yeah. I would definitely have these redone.”
As if I was looking for his feedback! As if I had asked for his opinion! As if this was a conversation that I wanted to be having!
Apparently his work here was done, because he promptly continued his journey past us and out the back door to join the party on the porch.
Leaving my friend and I standing in stunned silence.
My friend rolled her eyes, “He’s just like that. Forget him.”
Obviously I didn’t…