Many people are floating around a bit these days. A lot of questions in the air: What should I do with my life now? What kind of work could I do next?
Could I have possibly have undiscovered gifts and talents waiting to come bursting out anew?
And it's a good thing, I say -- assuming my readers are pretty much over 20 and you know what you're good at (even if you like to pretend you don't sometimes).
So now I want to reference a fantastic book by Larry Ackerman called The Identity Code. It's beautifully written (and thin!) and it's about finding your place and purpose in the world. The end of the chapters come with questions and exercises that are simple and focused on life purpose through the scope of personal identity. Before you get Fear-of-Woo-Woo know that Ackerman takes this stuff into Fortune 500 companies.
Anyway, somewhere in the beginning of the book (maybe the chapter called "The Myth of Personal Freedom and the Meaning of Identity"), he talks about something that loving parents have done that is actually very counter-productive. It's saying to children "You can do anything you want!" "You can be anything you want!"
Bullshit. Here's why. Nobody can be anything they want. I couldn't be any kind of biologist, I promise you. In high school I scored one point lower at the end of the year's competency exam as I did in the beginning. Yes, pretty lame but that gave me some good information: I love the process of elimination.
So, just as there is something each of us just couldn't do no matter how hard we tried ... there is the converse: the achievements and fulfillment you have when you follow that which comes naturally and with a great deal of curiosty and interest.
Each of us has special strengths and talents and gifts. I mean, we all know that right? And then, to be given so much freedom, to the tune of you can do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING ... well. That sort of sucks doesn't it? Talk about overwhelm breakdown or just weaving right off the universal path laid down in front of you.
So when I say that I highly doubt you have undiscovered gifts, I mean that in a supportive, give-yourself-a-break way.
A lot of people are bobbing around in their life's ocean these days. Some are out of work or starting up a new biz or flirting with a new chapter or just wondering ....
But there are clues in our lives, like bread crumbs along a continuum of a lifeline, always there for reference.
Ambitions and identity and purpose all shift around a bit as we move through stages and ages -- and you're left walking down the street scratching your head wondering: What the -- ?
See what happens if you broke down everything that you loved and came easily to see the common threads. What would you see?
I highly, highly recommend taking Larry Ackerman's The Identity Code and going through it; try doing it with a buddy. I did it with a great deep-thinking pal and it rocked. I understood why I had to do work that interacted with people. No more writer-for-hire sitting in a lonely corner, no matter how much I like to write. But I could merge them together.
Undiscovered, surprise gifts just waiting to bloom as you round the corner of 40, 50, etc? Probably not*. But how about this: You tapping strongly and purposefully into what you already have. You just need to reaquaint yourself with a few of the items in your treasure chest. And reorganize the tremendous gifts and curious inclinations you already have.
And from there -- tranform, change and grow.
Because as Rilke wrote, "You must change your life."
*Cover my ass moment here: Yes, I do believe in taking up new hobbies and artistic interests and at 70 painting a landscape picture and saying Jesus Christ I had no idea. My grandfather took up painting in his retirment. He also was part-owner of an art gallery as he drilled away as a dentist during the day. Hmmm.