Let me take you back to 2002.
I’d just completed my politics degree and returned home after 3 years at university.
Now, I was faced with the unenviable prospect of discovering what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
I didn’t have many ideas.
I certainly knew what I DIDN’T want to do.
Beyond that, though, I was stuck.
I knew my criteria. I wanted to support myself in a fun and inspiring way. However, I couldn’t identify an actual occupation that would both do that and to which my skills and personality would be suited.
So, I went through a period of experimentation. I tried the following 5 ridiculous options in the hope I might get lucky and find my purpose. (Please note, when I use the word ridiculous the implication is that they are ridiculous for me. For you, they might be a great fit and I wouldn’t want to dissuade you from pursuing them).
As long as I can remember, I’ve always been inspired by movies. Combine this with my slightly extroverted tendencies (I enjoy being in front of a camera or on stage) and acting seemed like a good fit.
I didn’t want to be any old actor, though, I wanted to be a movie star.
At the time, both Denzel Washington and Ed Norton were my favourite actors and I wanted to play powerful, moving roles like they did in The Hurricane and American History X. However, despite my grandiose ambitions, I had zero acting experience and no idea how to make it in the industry.
I had to start somewhere, though, and for me this involved enrolling on an adult education acting course.
Hollywood, this was not.
I attended 8 weeks of this course (probably geared towards people wanting to appear in local plays) and that was enough.
The final straw came when the tutor wanted us to sing while jumping around (I don’t know whether this was for her amusement or whether it’s a legitimate training technique).
At that point, I was out. I felt like I was embarrassing myself and that this environment was a million miles away from my Hollywood ambitions.
What possessed me to pursue this avenue?
Probably an, at the time, inflated opinion of the way I looked and the comments of a school teacher (suggesting I should try out as a model) after I took part in a school runway show.
So, I did what any self-respecting would-be model would do and got my Mum to take some photos of me doing, what I thought were, model poses (but probably looked something closer to Ben Stiller in Zoolander).
I took this “portfolio” up to London and shopped it around at various modelling agencies.
The reactions I received varied from barely concealed laughter to being told I was classically handsome but not model material.
I did have one fan, though, who waited for me at the exit of an agency.
A 50-year-old gay guy told me he had a private room where we could take some “special” photos that were bound to impress the unappreciative modelling scouts.
Throughout my life, I’d always been sceptical of religion. However, after reading Joseph Murphy’s The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind, I began to think of it differently.
Murphy regularly quoted the bible and explained the deeper meaning of the words in such a way that was both accessible and illuminating. Furthermore, he referenced the Church of New Thought and mentioned he was a minister of this institution.
It’s difficult to capture in words the impact that The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind had on my life at that time. Therefore, I thought to myself, if there’s some opportunity within the Church to be involved in what Joseph Murphy writes about, then I’m in.
This thought process resulted in two trips to Church.
The first was a regular, if somewhat evangelical, Church where I witnessed scripture readings and several members of the congregation being baptised and “born again.” While the ceremony moved me, it was too traditional, reminding me of the Church I’d known as a child (albeit a far more emotionally charged version).
My second trip was to a New Thought Church in London (the only one I could find – after spending a great deal of time scouring the internet). Here, the service was lot more sombre and sparsely attended.
In truth, it couldn’t have been more devoid of the inspiration I felt in the words of Joseph Murphy’s books. I talked with the preacher/organiser at the end but she dissuaded me from becoming a New Thought minister.
She explained there were limited options in London and that, anyway, the world of politics (I told her about my degree) was in greater need of Joseph Murphy’s teachings than the Church – something I didn’t want to hear.
As much as I wanted to be in front of the camera, creating powerful, moving stories was equally appealing.
So, I got myself a script writing guide from the library and studied it cover to cover.
I thought this was going to be easier than writing a book. However, coming up with a plot, characters and writing dialogue was more complicated than I imagined.
I spent a few summer afternoons, lying out in the sun, wracking my brains but not being able to create anything of note.
A year after all these adventures took place, I signed up to be a Utility Warehouse Distributor.
This was a network marketing scheme that involved getting customers to switch their electricity, gas and internet and recruiting a team of distributers who would do the same.
I was lured by the prospect of setting my own working hours and achieving a substantial passive income once my network grew. However, the product, and the work itself, couldn’t have been any further from my wheelhouse.
I’m not a natural salesman (I used to struggle to sell my own books, so selling something I didn’t believe in was a total non-starter).
After 9 months, and 3 customers acquired, I quit.
As you can tell from this list, I did a fair amount of fruitless searching in my youth.
Some of my ideas WERE ridiculous but did it matter?
Not really because the intention behind the search was pure.
I wanted to do inspiring work. Even deeper than that, I wanted to find my life’s purpose and if, in the process of getting to this destination, I had to go through a period of struggle, embarrassment and rejection, it was ultimately worth it.
That’s the first message of this blog post.
DON’T GIVE UP YOUR SEARCH.
You may feel like you’re wasting time pursuing different avenues that, ultimately, lead nowhere but the mere intention to find your life’s purpose is enough.
As a result of this desire, ideas WILL come to you and opportunities WILL present themselves.
Eventually, I turned my hand to writing self-help books.
I wrote 5 drafts of my first book before I finally released it in 2012.
It wasn’t easy. At many points, I felt lost and couldn’t see how this endeavour was going to work out. However, ultimately, through my confusion and struggle, I found a way and experienced success.
That’s the second message of this blog post.
IT’S OK TO FEEL LOST AND TO STRUGGLE.
A way can be made out of no way.
The thought of getting a book publishing deal seemed unreachable to me in 2008. In 2018, I got signed and the impossible became reality.
The same can happen for you. You can struggle, you can have no idea how something is going to work out and yet, you can still make it through the darkness and find clarity and direction.
HOLD ONTO YOUR VISION.
Even if that vision doesn’t have an identifiable endpoint (to sell X number of books, to be a travel blogger with 100,000 subscribers, to run a business creating and selling affordable eco-homes), the strong desire to experience greater freedom, to feel excited and engaged every day and to have a life filled with love (a love for what you do and to be surrounded by people you love) is enough to get you started.
From here, and through a process of experimentation and trial and error, you’ll find out what is, and isn’t, going to work.
A path will emerge.
That path might fade at times, and take a few wrong terms, but by holding onto your vision (and it improving in clarity as you do so), you’ll eventually arrive at your destination.
If you want to discover a passion you can make a living from and overcome the fears that are holding you back, check out my free course 30 Days to Escape The System. Click here to get the course right now! (You’ll find the tips on developing belief and self-confidence fascinating!)
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