Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. – Parker J Palmer
I know that there is a purpose for my life and I’m determined to find it. If I can embrace mystery, and be ok with the not-knowing, I can discover my life’s work.
Two months ago, I didn’t have a clue where to start. For years my own fears of failure and unknowns led down a path of inaction. But still, the stirring inside remained. There has to be more.
Thank God for the internet. While scrolling through my Instagram-feed, feeling sorry for my lack of self purpose, a book cover caught my attention. The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do, by Jeff Goins.
I had never heard of Jeff Goins, but that title intrigued me SO much. I went to his site and clicked around and found he was giving away the book for the cost of shipping. Whoa… an author AND a marketer. I like that. And so I bought the book.
And it’s been opening up a world inside of me. Taking something so lofty, like finding your calling, and bringing it down to where I was at. The ideas were simple, yet so empowering. He does this through multiple stories of ordinary people, like me, who have discovered what they were meant to do.
One thing that has been a major milestone for me, is what Goins describes as “awareness”. It’s the first stage of discovering your vocation, or calling. If we can take the time to look back on our lives, we can realize that we already have a sense of what are called to. Our lives have been speaking, but it’s up to us to listen.
I spent about a week thinking about that. As I went through my day to day, I began to take notice of the things that I loved, the work I love to do, and not just recently, but all the way back to my childhood. It still felt so ambiguous and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I enjoy so many things, like design and photography, that I felt overwhelmed at knowing which step was the first step.
Then the clarity came
I was driving home from work one day, listening to a podcast from Dale Partridge, an entrepreneur and founder of Sevenly. I can’t remember who he was interviewing. It doesn’t really matter. But I remember being so inspired by hearing the host talk to entrepreneurs and the creative businesses they’ve started. With 15 minutes left in my drive and no more podcast to distract me, I began to pray, and a thought entered my head:
I am an entrepreneur.
My eyes welled up with tears, as is typical when my heart agrees with somethings God is trying to tell me. I said it out loud, “I’m an entrepreneur”. And it just felt right. Just saying the words, agreeing that part of me, instantly laid a foundation for the future to come.
And as I looked back on my life with this new lens I began to agree more with it. I was always the kid knocking on doors to rake peoples’ leaves or shovel their snow. I remember the feeling when I made $80 one snowy day when I was 10. In middle school, I learned to string lacrosse sticks, and I soon hung up flyers in the locker rooms advertising my service, charging less than the local store to do it. I’m proud to say I’ve been a member of eBay since 1998, buying and selling things since high school. In college, I did a project where I created caricatures of the members of the band I was in. I thought they looked cool and that others may want their own, so I made a website where people could order theirs, called DrawPhoto.
My life was strewn with these moments. I’d often find something I enjoyed doing on my own, then figure out a way to make money from it. It was just natural. Inside of me.
One other thing I was reminded of was my grandparents. For most of my life I did not really recognize that they too were entrepreneurs, but looking back now, I can see how much they impacted me. They were antique dealers, with a basement full of treasures that would some day be sold. I loved looking at the random things they’ve found and I can still picture exactly what their basement looked like, homemade shelves of Rubbermaid bins lining all the walls. I would watch them buy lamps at garage sales for $800 and then they’d take me on trips into New York City as they auctioned them for $5000. Who knew those things were Victorian?!
I would help them with antique shows at the West Side Piers and I loved walking around and seeing the booths of the rare things people had for sale. I always loved the old advertisements and campy things like ray guns from the 50’s. It was an amazing world to me. And as I look back I can now see that the entrepreneurial spirit within me was being awakened and confirmed. It was all kind of making sense to me now.
And that scares the crap out of me
So I’m an entrepreneur now? What does that even mean? What’s my business? What will I do and how do I start?
I have more questions than answers, and that scares me so much. But at the same time, I feel a foundation has been laid, and my direction is just a little more clear. And I understand that without recognizing what my life had been telling me, I would be that much more lost. Things are now making more sense as I look through this lens. I feel one step closer.
I’m an entrepreneur.
What do you think your life is telling you? Take some time to reflect on it and let me know in the comments below.