When I was five, I loved to warm my hands by a fire. Roast marshmallows. Twirl sparklers. As I got older, I looked to other people to tell me who I was and what I wanted.
As adults, we often can’t distinguish opportunities filled with excitement from those that bore us to sleep until we are forced to make a decision. Motivated by the proverbial “fire under our tails.”
Shortly after I defended my dissertation, I received an envelope from the school district where I worked as an instructional coach. It felt like fire in my hands. I was intuitively aware of its contents. The district was going to close schools and downsize. My contract was not renewed.
My decision to pursue an advanced educational degree was a leap of faith I hoped would launch me out of traditional education into a career I loved. However, I had no words to describe “a career I loved.” I was only sure of one thing: I was standing on holy ground.
I spent years creating materials and designing programs for those in higher positions who would take credit for my work. I did it to ensure job security. And I never had it. I thought by giving myself away one piece at a time I might somehow some way find opportunities to do what I liked to do. I worked so hard to please other people that I lost myself.
A friend asked, “What do you want to do?” I didn’t know. He asked, “What do you like to do?” I had no idea.
I retreated to a red chair in a corner of my home. I churned out masterfully-crafted job applications, prepared for interviews, and scoured online listings for positions I did not want. And I withdrew from the world.
One night, I dreamt about a tiger.
The next morning, I found a picture of a beautiful tiger leaping through the air. In the kingdom of spirit animal guides, a tiger represents personal power and courage. The paper tiger in my hand was formidable and strong. It reminded me that there was a roar inside of me, too. And I felt strong.
I found more pictures and meaningful quotations. I purchased a foam poster board and attached my collection of pictures and words to its surface. My paper tiger found a new home at the center of the white board. It became my vision board.
I attended lectures by motivational experts and read their books about how to pursue and celebrate success. Their books described how they found success, but didn’t explain what I needed to do to create new goals.
I couldn’t find the book I wanted, so I wrote it. Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide is a personal goal-setting book that empowers others with tools to transform a dream or goal into reality. It was designed to be used by others who wanted to rediscover their own roar.
I developed a daily practice writing all of my blessings in a gratitude journal. I volunteered to facilitate workshops at local colleges, urban high schools, and support groups that desperately wanted someone to remind them they still had dreams. Youth groups and schools asked me to inspire their teens and motivate their adult leaders.
I slowly rediscovered what made my heart sing one step, one prayer, one goal, one habit, one picture, one word, one journal entry, one conversation, one risk at a time.
Throughout the months that followed, my vision board evolved. My dreams hadn’t gone anywhere. Years ago, I was too frightened to nurture my own aspirations because I didn’t trust any of them could come true. So, my dreams took a nap until I woke up.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” insists Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love. “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
I tore out the page with her words and attached them to my vision board. Next to the tiger.
The process of rediscovering your passion can be excruciatingly difficult. You must trust that intense brilliant voice within that knows – that’s always known – what you enjoy, where your talents lie, what you believe, and the work you know you are created to do.
Vocare, in Latin, means “to call.” The root of the word, vocation. When we find the courage and wisdom to respond to the Voice, we stand on holy ground.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest and philosopher, said, “The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
I put his words on my vision board. Next to the tiger.
What would you do if you were courageous?
Have you forgotten your what makes you happy? Rediscover your dream. Read How to Find Your Passion.
Find inspiration you want and direction you need to transform your dream into reality. Check out the preview and reviews of my award-winning goal-setting book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide.
If obligations and commitments are bogging you down, learn how to Pursue Your Passion (While Juggling Work & Other Responsibilities).
You can transform your passion into job you love. Discover how to Transform Passion into a Career with these tips.