Photographed with Nikon D300, 35mm lens.
"You've got to follow your passion. You've got to figure out what you love -- who you really are. And have the courage to do that. I believe the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow your own dreams."
-- Oprah Winfrey
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Today's Love Thursday entry is a bit different that what I usually share, but recently the topic of Following Your Bliss has been coming up around me a lot. So because it's been on my mind so much, I thought today I'd try to memorialize my journey toward following my dreams. I certainly wouldn't presume that my way would work for everyone; however, for what it's worth, here's how I figured out what I love:
1. I made a list of everything I love to do. I mean everything: I love to scuba dive. I love to eat. I love to sing in the shower. I love photography. I love practicing my handwriting. In law, I loved writing contracts (though not necessarily reading, or actually, negotiating them). I loved making Powerpoint presentations. I love public speaking. I love watching Ghosthunters (don't judge me). I love baking. I love taking portraits. I love being near the ocean. I love reading out loud to Alex. I love reading good books. I love ... and the list went on and on. I took a good half hour and literally wrote down everything I could think that I loved to do.
2. Once I made the list, for the items I could, I broke them down even further. For example, I mentioned I loved writing contracts -- so I thought to myself, what is it I like about writing contracts? And then I wrote that down: I love taking a complex deal, and writing it so that the terms are easy to understand. I love figuring out how to explain a deal in plain language. I did this for everything I could: I love reading good books because I love watching how a really good author turns a phrase. And I added it to my list.
3. After everything was narrowed down, I started looking for patterns. I started grouping together entries that were similar. Eventually, I realized that 98% of what I loved could be categorized loosely into the following:
I love to speak.
I love to write.
I love to shoot (capture images).
4. I gave up on "titles." Initially, I really struggled with the fact that I didn't know what someone who "speaks-writes-shoots" was called -- it took me a long time to come to terms with this. But then, after a few months, I realized that I didn't have to know what title would fit -- all that mattered was that I realized that those were the three things I love to do. I also realized that I would never want to make a living doing only one of those things -- for me to be happy, it was important that I do all three.
5. I opened myself up to opportunities to do all three. I started seeking out opportunities to do all three things, and building up a resume that could illustrate that I could do them. I also became VERY picky about what gigs I would accept. I've come up with some general guidelines: (a) each opportunity needs to call on me to do at least two of the three things (including, you'll note, the upkeep of Chookooloonks), and most importantly (b) I do a gut check: I've learned my instincts are generally spot on, so if it doesn't feel right, I don't do it. Sometimes this means walking away from something that might be lucrative in the short term, but I learned early on that if I compromised on (b), I ended up regretting the experience (and often, so did my client).
The result of my being so dogged about this is that more and more, the right opportunities come my way -- because I'm clear about what I enjoy doing, it's easier for the right prospects to find me. And while I'm not making my lawyer salary quite yet, I'm a firm believer in the old adage, "do what you love, and the money will follow." So, a year later, I remain patient, but also determined.
Also, I remain happy. Which is very, very cool.
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Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Please leave your stories or the links to your words or images of love in the comments section below. Also, if you've made some steps in determining and/or doing what you love, I'd love to hear that, as well -- I think we all would. So please feel free to share below, as well.
And here's hoping you're following your bliss -- or at least taking steps to determine/do what you love.