One project at a time

Image: Aneta Ivanova

Sometimes I wish I was born in Switzerland. Or Norway. Or any one of those countries where they make you choose your vocation at age 14.

As amazing as our US culture is — where we have the ‘freedom’ to choose what we want to do for a living at a relatively late age (and even then, we can, and often are, forced to change it after that), it’s also daunting.

As kids, we want to be superheroes and teachers and firefighters. We want to be our favorite movie people like Jason Bourne or Jim Carrey. Soon enough, we wake up and we’re 40 years old working that corporate job (if we’re lucky) still wondering what we want to be when we grow up.

Freedom can be overwhelming.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I wish someone would just end the mental thrashing by coming by, waving a wand, and granting me the forever role of being a mailman. Because then, I’d have nothing else to do mentally than roll up my sleeves and get to work. I’d probably work bad hours and hate my job, but if I wanted to stay sane, I’d eventually have to like it. I’d enjoy my weekends and nights. I’d probably even watch Netflix (no, I don’t even have an account — how lame am I?).

Instead, I find myself asking — just what is THE THING that LIFE wants me to do? What is the ONE THING (yes, it arrives on the screen of my mind in all-caps) I should devote my life to?

I really shouldn’t complain. It’s nice to have these options. I truly believe that. I’m thankful I’m not ordained a postman at birth. I just find myself sitting up a lot, late at night, researching stuff and brainstorming my eyeballs out, trying to create a living from my creative endeavors. And no matter what the marketers tell you, there IS no 7-step blueprint for that.

It’s a lot to stomach, really. But I recently read a beautiful article from one of my favorite writers/humans about her struggle with this very predicament.

My epiphany: for most of my life I’ve been trying to nail down my “purpose” so that I can choose the right types of “projects” to align with my purpose. But what if that’s a backwards approach? What if it’s better, for some people, to choose a project FIRST — and let “completing the project” BECOME your purpose?

(I’ve just blown my own mind.)
Alexandra Franzen

Yep, Alexandra, you’ve blown my mind too.

Start and complete one project at a time.

The internet is a black hole if you’re trying to find your life’s purpose. But it’s a wonderful tool for picking one project and completing it.

Just one project. What is it that you want to accomplish?

Write a book? Share a story? Spread your art? Support a cause? Teach a course?

Steve Jobs said it and we’ve all since made it cliché, but, connect one dot at a time.

We look back on our life’s purpose, not forward.

What’s in front of your headlights right now? What seems enthralling? What lights you up?

What’s that next step, even if it’s seemingly unrelated to everything else you’re doing?

It’s just one small step. Go ahead and take it.


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