In the early 1990s, as I was beginning my life as an adult, I held many beliefs about what it takes to be successful and happy in life.
I saw my life as a path. And I believed God had some calling pre-destined for me and my job was to crack the code as soon as possible, then run like hell toward that Promised Land.
Yet years passed and nothing happened.
No lightbulb moment. No angelic appearances. No burning bushes.
Until one day, it dawned on me that God steers, rather than points. That faith is action in the absence of knowing, kind of like courage is action in the presence of fear.
I began to accept the reality that my life isn’t a single path. It is a collection of paths.
Since that time, I’ve emerged as a contrarian thinker. I believe for every “truth” there’s an opposite truth. For example, if life can be a linear path, it can also be a nonlinear portfolio.
There is a myth running rampant in schools and self-help books. It tells us to “follow our passion”.
If we follow our passion, the thinking goes, then we can achieve success and happiness in our careers and lives.
Except it doesn’t work out for most people.
I’ve recently stumbled on the work of Cal Newport, a young academic and prolific author who explores this question. And he offers an alternative to “following your passion.”
If you are struggling to find your calling, please invest time in hearing Newport speak on this topic. I think it will breathe new life into your life and work, as a Creative.
And drop me a note by replying to this email. Tell me what you think. Or, better, tell me what you’re struggling with as a Creative. I’d love to try to help you in some way.
Stream the video here. And don’t wait for a better time later today. It won’t come. The best time is right now.
From May 2012 to July 2013, I wrote a weekly series of intimate essays for writers and artists seeking a deeper connection with their identity and place as modern creatives. I called this series Root Notes. This was an essay in that series. It was originally published on November 16, 2012.