When we talk about following our hearts, we often talk about it as something exciting but potentially dangerous. The road less travelled. Good luck, if you’re heading out on that journey (you’ll need it!), friends and family say as they wave us off, before returning to safety.
And by safety we usually mean the job and the house. The stuff. The marriage. The paycheck. All the things we can predict and thus rely on.
Even though nothing is predictable like that. Businesses fail. Houses burn down to the ground along with everything we own. Marriages end. A beloved person’s heart stops beating. We crash the car and our bodies never recover.
And we don’t get a say.
What if we stopped thinking of these outer structures as constant and predictable, and instead saw them for what they truly are: always changing. What would happen if we no longer sought safety and security there, where it can’t be found? What if we faced that breathless fear underneath: That we’re not in control. That it’s not in our hands.
It’s not in our hands.
What would it mean to accept that? The way a person must do when she learns that she has an incurable, mortal disease. When she no longer has the option of postponing and delaying. When life becomes a matter of now, or not at all.
Would you still toil and strive the way you do? Would it still feel reasonable to trade your time and your passion for an idea of safety that holds up only as long as it’s not tested? Do we have to wait for the diagnosis?
No, we don’t. We can explore other aspects of safety that includes – even requires – living a life we believe in instead of one we think we should be living. We can inquire into our fears and challenge them one by one, until we remember: that whichever path we choose to follow, there are no guarantees.
We can’t strike a deal with life, sacrificing our dreams and adventures in exchange for safety. Life will not sign that agreement. Thankfully.
The truth is that your heart’s work is the safest choice you can make. Not always the easiest, but the safest. Everything supports you along that path.
- When you choose to commit to yourself and your dream, life commits to you too. You step into a co-creation process unlike anything you’ve ever been involved in before, where the creative powers of this universe are at your disposal. It will take you some time to learn how to wield them, but when you do. Whoa.
- When you make that commitment, other people who are aligned with your dream and your purpose will find you, and their support will fuel your journey and hold you through the rough patches.
- When your intuition is in constant use, it’s sharpened into a very fine tool that will unfailingly lead you in the right direction.
- When you know what you need and how to give it to yourself, you’re no longer at the mercy of other people’s likes and dislikes.
- When you’re deeply inspired, you’re connected to the most brilliant, creative part of yourself, the one who knows how to find solutions where none can be seen.
- And when joy and purpose is the driving force behind your actions, you’ll find the strength and stamina you need to go the distance.
Those resources are yours, and they’re not threatened by the next economic downturn.
You have higher gears. You have powers that are simply not activated when you live in a state of waiting, when you do life half-heartedly or ignore your deeper longing. I can’t prove it; just say that it’s my experience, and that I over and over again hear the women I work with report the same experience.
Does it mean you’re guaranteed success if you follow your heart? Of course not. If you learn how to tell your stories and work your genius, worldly success is very likely to follow. But it will only be a sweet by-product; the result of a life lived to the fullest.
It makes me think of writer Henry Miller. A long time ago I read about how he, when he felt poor and doubted the value of his work, used to get up, fling his arms wide open and shout: I owe everyone!
I owe everyone.
I didn’t get it, then. But I know what he meant now. I owe this world all that I have. My very best. It’s not my job to evaluate who I am and what I do. It’s definitely not my job to dodge my own longing and reach my deathbed without having messed up my clothes.
My job is to say yes to what’s calling me. To give it all I’ve got. And open my arms to embrace all that comes in return.
Life. Extra everything.
Anna Lovind is a writer and mentor of creative dreamers.
She writes about what it takes to live a happy, sustainable creative life, and through her online course, The Creative Doer, she helps brilliant creatives of all disciplines to go from dreaming to doing.
Anna lives in an old log cabin on a mountainside, overlooking a lake, where she drinks countless cups of tea, tends her garden and her kids, and writes.
Connect with Anna on her website.