Do you know what your life’s work is?

It’s a daunting concept, isn’t it? But wouldn’t it be nice to take it into your own hands, rather than rely on other people’s permission!

There’s only one issue: how do we take our life’s work into our own hands if we don’t know what it is? For most of us, it only become clear one piece at a time, as we progress through life – like a very long and complicated jigsaw puzzle.

Please note: this is an updated version of an article that was originally published in the ‘Refresh Your Mindset‘ Micro-Guide.

1. Follow Your Gut

The Clear-Minded Creative may not even know what their purpose is yet.

But they will feel a strong drive to create in their heart. A longing in their gut to do something great.

They will instinctively know that they have the potential to create something meaningful. Something that moves people, and maybe even helps them or changes their perspective in a significant way.

Deep down, they know they have work to do.

2. Be Your Own Private Detective

What that work ultimately is though, is probably a complete mystery. And so we must act as a private detective, piecing together the puzzle as we ourselves produce each clue, in small chunks, over a lifetime.

And isn’t solving the mystery part of what keeps us interested? We tend to admire TV detectives for their tenacity and commitment to discovering the truth. We need to be just as thorough and stubborn when uncovering the truth about ourselves and our purpose.

3. Strengthen Your Foundations

Accepting that the ever-evolving mystery is part and parcel of the journey makes the bumps in the road easier to navigate. That doesn’t mean everything will be plain-sailing though (to mix transportation metaphors a little).

We have to grit our teeth and strengthen our foundations so we can face the inevitable tough times ahead, and be mindful enough to notice when things are good so we can be truly present and enjoy them.

4. Take One Day at a Time

Steve Jobs said:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Maybe in hindsight you’ll be able to see a larger pattern that ties all your efforts together. For now though, just think about each day as it comes.

Most of us will also have times when we lose hope and fall back to the path of least resistance, where we make little progress, and our creative work falls to the wayside. That’s ok. It’s normal (I haven’t blogged in a while, in case you haven’t noticed).

Count each day that you do manage to be creative as a small victory. Tick that day off in your calendar and then try not to ‘break the chain’, by doing a little more the next day, and the day after that.

And if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. But as Leo Babauta recommends, try not to miss two straight days, because the longer you leave any creative practice, the harder it is to get started again.

Those small steps will eventually build on themselves and become something much bigger.

5. Prioritise Health and Peace of Mind

The Clear-Minded Creative will not be happy if they cannot fulfil their life’s work. They come to realise that their lives must be designed to enable them to fulfil this purpose.

Therefore they must look after their health, simplify their life, and prioritise peace of mind so their art can come forth.

By allowing our art to come forth we can start to unearth the answers in our own hearts.

And maybe that is what our life’s work is about, after all.

Main photo by Del Brown (Creative Commons)

4 Comments

  1. Hey Milo – at this point, it’s all about following my gut. Quitting my profession, blogging, coaching courses, and starting to coach clients has all been gut work. And my intuition, I imagine is in my gut. It better not lead down the wrong path!! It may but I also know that wherever the path leads me is where I’m supposed to be.

    • Interesting point Vishnu. It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between intuition and other impulses like fear or ego.

      When it comes to important decisions I’m trying to make a habit of talking things over first with someone I trust to make sure I’m not deluding myself!

      P.s. Congrats on your new coaching career :)

  2. Good pocket swiss army knife article.
    If you don’t mind I’ll add one more: The ability to do difficult things and dive in core work. This means working your way trough Resistance to go beyond the known and beyond the easy that you already master. Great Blog I enjoyed a lot the “Trying Not to Try: An Experiment with Effortlessness”

    • Excellent addition Lourenco – totally agree. I’ve written about The War of Art that deals with just that, and am still fighting the resistance on a daily basis and now and again I even win ;) Thanks for reading and commenting!