As a Life Coach who works with Life Purpose and Creativity, I’ve found for myself and for so many of my clients that our true life’s purpose, the work we’re here to do, is often the thing we avoid the most. I know that statement sounds completely counter-intuitive, but when I look closely at my own avoidance behaviors and those of my clients, it becomes glaringly obvious. We avoid our true selves, and often deny and even flat out abandon our authentic selves, cutting off the very joy that fuels our soul’s fullest expression in the world. You can’t tell me God, or whatever you call your higher power, doesn’t have a sense of humor, albeit a little twisted. And if you don’t have a higher power, just pretend for the purposes of this exercise in possibility, that you do.
Is there a cure for such denial, a roadmap for re-connecting with ourselves, our truth, our purpose for our life’s work? In programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the phrase “take contrary action” is used consistently because it works so well. We, humans, are all creatures of habit. Our ego’s love the sense of security and control our habitual behaviors give us. But control is an illusion, and many believe control to be the master addiction. I tend to agree.
Watching myself, clients, and most people I know clinging to old ways of doing things like staying in a dead-end job for years, is all the proof I need to be clear that habits can suck the life right out of us – literally.
Habits have a shadow side. Look at smoking, drinking, or over-spending in our well-oiled consumer culture, and you’ll see all the evidence you’ll need highlighting the detrimental effects of certain habits which can result in lung cancer, alcoholism, and bankruptcy respectively. But the other side of the habit coin is that we can, with relative ease, create new habits. Yes, we can often replace an old habit with a new one. In Program circles, I’ve heard this described as “up-leveling your addictions.” Perhaps you used to turn to drinking lots of red wine or tequila (not that I would know anything about that) when you experienced any type of emotional pain which over time became a habitual coping mechanism, and through Twelve Step Study in one of the AA type Programs, began to look to the universe, a higher power, and even started meditated or praying, or both. Soon the meditation and/or prayer became the up-leveled habit, and your need for the more destructive habit was replaced with a more positive, life-affirming habit. And please know when I say habit here, I’m referring to behavioral patterns we often fall into which take us off our path. Severe addiction requires professional assistance. Please consult your doctor. I’m using elements of the Twelve Step Program here because they are incredibly useful for anyone, and for life in general.
We know in the Behavioral Sciences that it takes approximately thirty-three days to create a new habit. When I look at my own life, and when I’m working with a client, I observe commonly practiced behavioral patterns that hold us back, like continuing to do a job even when it makes us sick be it physically or emotionally with anxiety or depression as examples. I see these as clues and they often lead me, as a Life Purpose Detective, to the places that have been ignored, covered up with substances like alcohol, or busyness – a national addiction of epic proportion. Here we begin to uncover our true loves, our heart’s desires, and our life’s work. So take heart if your work is making you sick. More than likely you’re covering up what you really want to do.
For some people, this uncovering, which can feel scary and vulnerable in the beginning, will often reveal the simplest bits of information to us. Some clients discover, a word I’ll use loosely because it’s been in their awareness for years somewhere in the deep recesses of their mind, that they like to paint, or garden, or that they want to live in a different city, find their life partner or start a family to name any variety of discoveries we can make as we explore the truth of our hearts. And when we do this we also come upon our life’s work without, in a sense, really even trying. And for most, these discoveries lead to gentle, minor changes that can have significant positive impact on our lives including leaving an old job for a new, more aligned type of work. And for others, the way they do their work can change because they’re now doing what they love as a hobby, so that need to express creatively is fulfilled as opposed to ignored. Sometimes we blame our job for how we’re feeling, and sometimes there’s a direct link, while other times it’s a smokescreen for our real work.
So saying yes to our life’s work is an inside job, a process of exploration that can be filled with grace. It can be fun, and incredibly creative. The initial key steps are saying yes to trying something new, taking contrary action steps, and giving ourselves at least thirty-three days of doing our lives just a little bit differently.
Resistance is stubborn and bound to rear its cute little head. That’s why people seek help for making change from coaches, counselors, and Programs such as AA. Thankfully, change is possible, and over time as we work our specific program, we find ourselves a bit more energized, in a better mood, meeting new people, and having some fun again. Once you say yes to you, your whole life begins to transform and sooner or later, you find yourself doing what you love – your life’s work, and living your life’s purpose.
And I know some would say if your work isn’t working, revise that resume and start looking. This may be the route for you, and I’d highly recommend taking some time for inner exploration. What parts of yourself have you been ignoring? Where is there pain or discomfort? Again, I’ve found these to be clues and wonderful indicators to one’s truth. Find what’s in your heart and follow it. Quite often it won’t mean a new job, but new ways of creative expression, of healthier eating, better sleep, new relationships, and definitely loving yourself just a little bit more than you did before, and that has a reverberating effect out in your world. Just watch as the waters of your life ripple with this newfound joy.
But don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself. To quote one of my favorite lines from a 1970’s General Mills Life Cereal commercial, “It’s supposed to be good for you. Give it to Mikey, he won’t eat it, he hates everything! (pause while Mikey takes a bite of cereal) He likes it! Hey, Mikey!” Try it, whatever your “it” is, because you just, like Mikey, might like it, a lot! Say “yes” to you, and you just might find yourself in a new job, or discovering your most heartfelt desire to write a book or deepen your connection with your higher power. It all depends on you, literally. Look at what you’re avoiding, or what’s causing you pain, and when you do make the choice to explore and heal, that’s where you’ll find clues that lead you to the buried treasures of your heart, your life’s purpose, and the work you’re here to do. And remember, it’s a process, not an event, so do whatever you can to enjoy the ride. It makes life so much sweeter.
Barry Alden Clark has coached thousands of individuals in connecting more deeply with their hearts, their life purpose, and helped create a pathway for these folks to move forward in a direction more aligned with who they truly are. He & his creative partner Eliza Swords are currently delivering uplifting content on social media every Wednesday via “Best Day Ever with Barry and Eliza”, a Facebook and You-Tube phenomenon reaching thousands of people around the world. They are also inspiring love and joy through creating heartfelt and entertaining content via their production company Pure Honey Ink. Currently they have projects in development for social media, film, television and publishing. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.
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