This month marks the nine-month anniversary of the most natural and obvious, most joyful and energizing decision of my life: to fully commit 100% to my life's work.
I've spent every day falling more madly in love with how I live my life and spend my time, the contributions I'm making to society, and the discomfort and growth that I feel each day.
My journey getting here was both arduous and enthralling. It was not at all straightforward. I had numerous experiences that collectively brought me here, teaching me what I'm capable of and showing me what does and does not resonate.
Though I've known for many years that my purpose is to unlock human potential, it took me some time to fully embrace my intuition, to figure out how to actualize this vision, and to build the courage to lean into my fears. (And it's still, and always will be, an ongoing learning process.)
I've made the mistake of plunging headfirst into a business commitment that wasn't fulfilling, spending more time trying to make it work than actually getting stuff done. I've felt red flags early on in a startup but waited nine months to listen to my intution. I've put off my own ideas to help others actualize their visions because it was less scary. Though I would relive my mistakes all over again in a second (and I believe making more mistakes helps you grow and gain confidence), I'd love to save you some time and energy along your journey.
Inspired by an article by MeiMei Fox about finding "the one" in love, and based on my own experiences and conversations with friends who are in love with how they work, live, and play, here are 8 signs you've found your life's work:
1. It doesn't feel like work.
Your life's work is not a "job"—it's a way of living. Your work enables you to create the lifestyle you want for yourself and your lifestyle includes your work. You frequently stop and think to yourself, "Wait, am I seriously working right now?" You can hardly distinguish between work, play, and life—as they are all intertwined. In everything you do, you are constantly pursuing your vision of optimal living.
2. You are aligned with your core values.
Your life's work is an extension of your beliefs and worldview. You live in integrity because what you do is in accordance with who you are. This alignment will inspire you to move a small mountain if that's what you have to do to realize your vision. Every day you work to manifest and actualize the world you imagine because by making it so, you'll make the world more alive, beautiful and well.
3. You are willing to suffer.
Passion comes from the latin word 'pati,' which means 'to suffer.' Your life's work is less about following a passion and more about your willingness to suffer along the way. The journey will be immensly challenging at times. You'll be exposed to unexpected challenges and setbacks and you may endure hardship, rejection, and sacrifice. These roadblocks will motivate you. In fact, you see the short-term pain and discomfort as tremendous opportunities for learning, growth and depth; they're critical to appreciating the beautiful and joyous moments.
4. You experience frequent flow.
You naturally and often fall "in flow," deeply immersed by your work and the present moment. At 1:13 p.m. you realize five hours have gone by since you looked at the clock last. Or, you look up and realize it's 12:21 a.m. and your instinct is to keep creating. Flow isn't something you have to force; it just happens.
5. You make room for living.
Your work provides you the ability to live fully and enjoy life. Though you feel captivated and enthralled by your work, you make room for healthy routines like fitness, connection, spontaniety, and play. These activities re-energize and enable you to live a holistically fulfilling life.
6. Commitment is an honor.
When you discover your life's work, the question of commitment is easy. There is no hestitation or analyzation as to whether or not the work is right for you. Your heart says yes. Your mind says yes. Your body says yes. Commitment to your work feels like breahting. You cannot imagine spending your time dedicated to any other purpose.
7. The people who matter notice.
"You look vibrant!" and "I've never seen you so healthy and happy!" and "This is without question what you're meant to be doing!" are among the comments you may hear from the people closest to you when you're on the right path. It's important to note that these people who care for you deeply may also be the first to question and worry in the early stages. But, once you are thriving, they'll notice and lovingly support your efforts.
8. You fall asleep exhausted, fulfilled, and ready for tomorrow.
You go to sleep each night grateful for the day. You know you're on the right path, you gave the day your all, and you can't wait to do it all over again tomorrow. This is your life and you cannot imagine living it any other way.
Amber Rae is Founder & CEO of The Bold Academy, a life accelerator designed to help you lead the life you were meant to lead. Applications for Bold Academy San Francisco are now open. For more on Amber, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.
[Image: Flickr user Rob]