A crash course in one article: “WTF is my THING??!” Big Dream Program style. (It’s a fill-in-the-blanks template, so might want to grab a coffee and a journal.)
Hi there :)
This is a way you might ‘find’ your thing. What it is you are meant to be doing in this world. For your work, maybe for your income, and more importantly even than that - for that sense of meaningfulness: Like ‘I love how much my work matters, and how focused and at home I feel with it.’
This question is so damn easy when we look at someone else doing it. Doing their thing.
But it’s hard as f*** to figure out for ourselves, typically.
Usual beginning challenges for people I work with:
- way too many ideas, they think. Turns out that’s a good thing.
- a strong desire to be in charge of their own time and days. Self-Sovereignty. Usually this means self-employment.
- lack of motivation due to having tried to figure this out for so many damn years. Maybe decades. Lots of disappointment. They are usually finding it hard to do anything much because they are just not sure the ideas they come up with are the ‘right thing’
- a certain amount of understandable ‘but what about me??’ feeling when they see someone else rocking ‘their thing’.
- Secretly worried to even try something, as they do not want to let themselves down again or are worried they’ll get all excited and then lose steam and drop it like many things before.
- life is also busy, maybe things like job, family, + whatever personal challenges we all have a helping of — so when they DO sit down to do something, they wind up surfing the net or writing yet another idea in their journals.
It took me 2 decades, and 2 careers to figure this out for myself. If this sounds remotely like you, here’s a crash course on what I’d consider if I were in your shoes right now:
Step #1: Start with a name. It creates a container which you can then flesh out. There is very likely not ‘one thing’ for you, because you are crazy smart, and very curious about life. A multi-potentialite (that’s been the problem.) You will always have many interests, and skills. So — instead of trying to choose, I suggest what might serve you best — what your ‘thing’ really is — is a structure for your ‘work’ in which ALL of the crazy-ass things that make you YOU have a home. This has many advantages. Bottom line, someone like you might be best suited to be an ‘experience designer’ more than any single one label. (like yoga teacher, or life coach.)
Your new ‘work’ will already begin to feel like a structure if it has a name even before you figure out the rest. A working title. Mine’s called the Big Dream Program. vs Alex the Reiki Master, or Alex the energy meditation teacher, or Alex the life or business-figuring-out coach. My opinion: fuck labels. Ain’t hardly any of us can spread our wings with a narrow pigeon hole of a label.
So — if you’ll permit me: for now until you think of something else, the name for your new work, , will be:
The ___(<<your first name>>)___ Project. Why not!
Now, let’s fill it in.
Step #2: Meaningfulness: Your big why underneath everything: imagine the Universe was giving out magic wands. With your magic wand, you could make a difference to some meaningful-to-you thing in this world. Examples: environment, children, horses, more art, more beauty, peace, people falling in love with nature, etc. Make a shortlist (then just pick one for now to see how this plays out, and adjust it later if you wish.) So your magic wand for now is (fill in the blanks as we go here): _____________.
Now put those 2 bits together:
The <<First Name>> Project is a collection of initiatives to help bring love and evolution to ________ [magic wand thing]
OK. How’s that starting to feel internally?
Step #3: [Interests] This is the super-fun bit: grab a sheet of paper right this moment and quickly scribble down a bunch of your current interests, and skills, that you really enjoy so you can play with this structure. Examples: yoga, nutrition, dancing, camping, meditation, wild edibles, canoeing, family, humour, and storytelling… what makes your list? Spend no more than 5mins on this and then move on.
Step #4: [vehicles — ie how to interact with the world using your work] when it comes to hanging out with people doing some kind of work with them, what are your favourite ways to interact with the world? 1on1 conversations? small intimate workshops? Big ones? retreats? theatre or dancing? interviewing people? traveling workshops? speaking? radio show? podcast? outdoors instead of indoors? online or in-person? Or through less direct means like writing a book, doing vlogs, e-courses, etc? Scribble down a short-list of these vehicles so that you can see how a person like you most enjoys interacting with the world. Pick 3 for now, you can tinker with it later.
Now let’s put the 4 steps together for you: Fill in the blanks with your answers from the steps:
In The <<First Name>> Project I offer _________ [3 vehicles — eg. traveling workshops] using the amazing tools of _______ [interests] to help folks who are interested in bringing more love and evolution to _______ [magic wand].
Tinker with all that wording and grammar so that it makes sense and is aesthetically appealing to you. You’ll end up with something like this:
Example: The Millie Project (another title — the Wilderness Yoga Experience): I offer wilderness retreats and daily nature mini-workshops using amazing tools like yoga, dancing, storytelling, wild edibles, great nutrition, canoeing, and people-connecting to help folks who would love to see what happens when they bring more happiness and connection with nature into their world.
Step #5: Getting started with making it real: [your first project idea] Brainstorm an EASY initial project idea to begin feeling this out: for example a one-evening invitation to your home — maybe even for free or low-cost — in which you design a few little experiences relevant to ‘the <<First Name>> project’. A long-time friend and client of mine is beginning with hosting a movie-night at her home — showing a documentary about her chosen areas of interest.
Step #6: Baby steps to share it with the world: (total credit to Tad Hargrave of Marketing for Hippies for this. He’s the marketing genius behind many of us out here!) Write up a little email to send to some friends or if you have an email list, or a Facebook post saying something like: ‘Hi friends, on August x I’m doing _________ [project idea]. It’s because _______ [why you feel your magic wand is important in the world and how your project is relevant to that.]. Do you know anyone who might like to hear about this? I have space for x people.’ Don’t worry about logos and business cards and webpages and all that clutter — that can come later.
Step 7 is below — but before that: Want to see this in action? Here is a very recent example of a workshop participant putting this all into play in less than a month from when they began this process. Notice how she combined a magic wand (deep living, and happiness in these cases) with her varied interests, designing experiences for others, and moves to share them with the world.
Susanne’s deep-living experiences. She is blending interests like meet-the-farmer tours, food, cooking and eating together, conversations about living well, self-healing, and so much more into her 3 amazing experiences for people. Check them out here!
Step #7: My personal opinion from a lot of hard lessons over 14yrs (and those of my clients) Spend the next 12 months on the 2 following things equally time-wise:
- ONE: 50% of your work time playing and experimenting with your mini-projects within the <<First Name>> Project, creating new iterations, and implementing or repeating the ones people sign up for, and learning what marketing ideas work great for you to build your thing. (Outer Work)
- TWO: 50% of your work time doing your Inner Work. Bottom line here is: most of us are not that great at having folks show up for our work, support us, pay us right out of the gate. We have blocks, barriers, fears, and all sorts. That’s NORMAL. In fact, highly expected, if you’re sharing the work of your heart. It’s a good sign you’re on the right track with your ideas! And…people responding to and interacting with our work has a lot less to do with how stellar our ‘ideas’ are typically, and more to do with the Inner World stuff that’s making it energetically hard for people to come to us in the #s we are wishing. There is NO business course or marketing course that will solve this. Strong opinion alert, whether you do it with me or some other way: Grow your internal comfort in sharing your thing and earning your income from it. Make that 50% of your work.
That is why I created specific eKits to help folks with navigating this Inner Journey (that clients and the new mentorship club participants get for free). It’s because figuring out ‘our thing’ is a mighty accomplishment, and sharing it with the world is the other one. :) They are both equal, and my guess is you will enjoy the heck out of both of them. Treat them both equally to take the pressure off either one.
What about your non-work time? Usually when clients get clearer on ‘wtf they are doing with their lives’ (hopefully this crash course might open up some new ways of thinking about this for you!), they find a huge weight begins to dissolve. They begin to have renewed energy. And can then, in their non-work time, make more and more gorgeous plans and moves with the people in their lives — like family for some, and with their personal big dreams, learning a new language or how to play the violin, gardening without guilt ;) All sorts of yumminess that had been clouded over because they just couldn’t figure out the work stuff.
Big HUGE hug. To your Big Dreams. My favourite thing in the world is to ‘hold’ people’s big dreams. This is not a job for me. It’s who I am.
PS — If you like what you’ve come up with using this template, please share it with me personally. I’d love to hear!
PPS — I work with a handful of folks per year as 1on1 clients helping them figure out and implement ‘their thing’. If you’d be interested in my take on this for you, there is info here.