When someone says to me, “Everything happens for a reason’ I say ‘Yes, but is it your reason’. Life is not an accident. Through careful choices and persistent planning, you can control what happens to you. That sounds boring, doesn’t it. We are talking about your future. The best way to deal with the future is to invent it!
What could be more exciting than trying to figure out what you want to have happen and ‘make it happen’. If you live your life wandering around aimlessly, you are not likely to end up anywhere at all. If you live your life bouncing around, reacting to events and circumstances, you are giving up control over where you will go next. This is not an ideal way to live – it’s stressful and not creative at all.
I believe that each of us comes prepackaged with a reason for being, a quest. Unfortunately there is no operating manual or help line to make it easy to figure out what that quest is. Once you figure it out, however, life is sooo much easier and better. It means that you are living on purpose. This translates to doing the right work, in the right environment, with the right people and using your talents and abilities in a way that benefits others as well as yourself. This quest covers every aspect of your life, including having people to love and who care about you.
You need a compass to navigate by, a North Star to aim for (your quest, mission, purpose) and a map so you can plot out the best (and even the most scenic route, if that turns you on) way to get where you are going (your goals). You can get blown off course and explore new islands, meet interesting people in faraway lands …. but you always have that North Star to guide you back. That is what your quest does for you.
Follow Your Bliss
When you aren’t sure about what you should be doing with your life, it can feel like you’re in free fall. For some, the rush of hurtling to the ground at terminal velocity is exhilarating. Some don’t even seem to realize that they don’t have anything (a parachute) to stop them from hitting the ground and going splat. In the beginning, it can be exciting to go through life without a plan or purpose. Many romantic tales are written by people who disciplined themselves not just enough to put pen to paper, but enough to sell their stories for publication.
Being in control of your life means knowing what you want and working toward it. It means waking up every morning saying ‘I have got the best job in the world, I absolutely love what I do. If you can say that, everything else in your life will fall into place.
Some people know early on what they want. They are the lucky ones. Most of us struggle for a while before we find our niche. That is okay. Enjoy the struggle. Consider it a voyage of discovery with a treasure at the end Self knowledge is a wonderful thing.
What Do You Want?
How to Find yourself When You Didn’t Know You Were Lost
Before you can figure out your niche in the creative scheme of things, you need to understand yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your true desires, your personal definition of success. The following questions are designed to make you think about yourself from various angles. Answer them quickly. Put down the first thing that pops into your mind (before your left brain has a chance to butt in). Don’t analyze either the questions or the answers. Be honest – nobody ever has to see this but you. Now, quick and dirty:
- What is your favorite time of year?
- What is your favorite hobby?
- Where is your favorite getaway spot? When was the last time you went there?
- What social settings bring out the best in you? Worst in you?
- What is your best personality trait? Worst? How would your spouse/best friend answer that?
- What one thing would you most like to change about your personality?
- Make a list of your friends and look for common qualities they all share. Next, list the people you absolutely loathe. What qualities do they share?
- Are you a country mouse or a city mouse? Do you like more a laid back lifestyle or one that is frantic and fast paced?
- Are you more comfortable competing against others or against yourself?
- Which is more you – safe and secure or reckless and risky?
- Which would you rather be – healthy and wealthy or healthy and wise?
- Do you want more or less travel in your work?
- Where would you like to go? Would you travel by land, sea or air?
- Would you like to do more or less public speaking in your work?
- How much money as an annual salary would make you feel more successful?
- Do you prefer to work with your hands or your mind? Indoors or outdoors? With people or with things? (Can’t say both. Just state a preference, even if it is marginal)
- Which is more challenging, dealing with difficult people or difficult problems?
- What bores you?
- What would you eliminate from your description of what work you do if you could?
- Do you like to be in charge? Or do you prefer to be the power behind the throne?
- What do you like best about your work?
- If you could have anyone’s job in the world, whose would it be?
- What is the most undesirable job you can think of?
- When do you prefer to work – morning, noon or night? When would you rather not work? What days would you like to h ave off? What would be an ideal work schedule for you?
- What would you like to bring to work that you can’t? Kid? Dog? Stereo?
- Do you prefer to work alone or in a group? How much of your day would you like to spend dealing with people, and how much would you like to be left alone?
- How many projects can you handle at once?
- Do you prefer stretches where you work like crazy and then take a break, or do you like to pace yourself and limit your projects?
- Which best describes the environment you would prefer to work in: at home, in a lab, in a studio, outside, in an office, on the road, on a set, in a studio, in a cafe, in a tall building, in front of an office, or some other situation? Big city or small town, or small city/big town?
- Do you prefer to deal in concepts or projects? Which is more satisfying, the process or the product?
- List jobs you think you would enjoy doing.
- List jobs you think you could not and/or would not do
- What skills do you like to use the most?
- What task or talent comes easily to you?
- Name something that is always a struggle to do.
- What type of people do you enjoy working with the most?
- Do you prefer to work at a fast pace or to pace yourself?
- Do you like every day to be different, or do you prefer to slip into a consistent and comfortable routine?
- Which motivates you more, money or a mission?
Finish the Sentence
Let’s play ‘finish the sentence’ Let your intuition be your guide. Go with your gut.
- I have no trouble focusing on…
- My idea of the perfect day is…
- The most fun I can have with my clothes on is….
- The perfect attire to work in is…
- My dream is to….
- I have always wanted to…
- I am looking forward to…
- I wish I could do …. more often
- I know I have a talent for
- I feel fantastic when I am …
- This turns me on:
- This touches me deeply:
- This is the thing I value the most:
- This draws out the best in me:
- This is the person I would most like to meet:
- This is the one thing I would most like to change about my community:
- This is the best thing I can do to serve others:
- This is the kind of work I would do for free:
- This is the thing I feel most passionately about:
- This is the thing that bothers me the most:
- This is the one subject I could study forever:
- This is the one thing I get complimented on the most:
- This is the thing that makes me smile the most:
- This is the activity that gives me the most pleasure:
- This is the time in my life when I felt really good:
- This is the thing I do where time flies:
- This is the nicest thing anyone ever said to me:
- This is the thing people most ask for my help with:
- This is the one thing I could do all day, every day.
Create Your Own Legend Outline
- What’s Right About Being Right-Brained?
- You Are The Storyteller of Your Own Life
- What is Your Quest?
- It’s Not Just a Job, It’s a Heroine’s Journey
- Selling Your Story
- Self Made
- Your Travel Companions
- Be Your Own Boss
- Right Brainers in Business
- The Lean Years
- Business Plans
- Help! I Need Somebody
- The Cheering Section
- Tell Your Story
- The Seven (Bad) Stories of Highly Ineffective Heroines
- The Power of Your Story
About Peter de Kuster
Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’s Journey & Hero’s Journey project, a storytelling firm which helps creative professionals to create careers and lives based on whatever story is most integral to their lives and careers (values, traits, skills and experiences). Peter’s approach combines in-depth storytelling and marketing expertise, and for over 20 years clients have found it effective with a wide range of creative business issues.
Peter is writer of the series The Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey books, he has an MBA in Marketing, MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences