When I was around 6, what I wanted to be when I grew up was either a stewardess or a ballerina.  And I can tell you exactly why.  On the ballerina front I thought they were so beautiful.  Graceful, and so magical in their costumes, floating across the stage.  What a wonderful feeling!   And a stewardess (I know they aren’t called that anymore but that is what they were called in the 60’s).  Again, great costumes, always hoping off on new adventures, and they always smiled.  Again, what a great feeling. 

We crave that good feeling and since it feels like it comes from achieving a goal, or an identity that we have created, we start looking for it at a young age.  But it isn’t the right answer and not only is it a question that we never need to ask, it has the potential to lead to heartache, self-consciousness and insecurity.    

What is the difference between living from goals and living from inspiration?  Why would we want to navigate life without goals?  What have I learned from looking back? 

Using the Power of Inspiration in the Moment (or Day or Year or Decade)

I majored in Marketing in College because, at the time, it just seemed to make the most sense. I considered myself creative, liked math and there was no language requirement.  My second professional position was as a market researcher in a Commercial Real Estate Company.  I was looking to move back to my hometown and began doing some informational networking to research potential next steps.  The question rattling in my mind was whether I would move further into the world of real estate or further into the world of market research.  I had a really lovely meeting with a man who researched the consumer buying behavior of toothpaste and when I left his office I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that real estate was calling me, not research.  From that space of not knowing into the space of knowing, my inspiration showed up and the desire to help build cities called me loud and clear.  That inspiration carried me through four more positions in commercial real estate and then three more positions in community development. 

Inspiration comes from the inside.  It is the power that you harness when you allow yourself to be yourself.  It is the voice within that connects to the feeling that this is the right move, the right decision for now, when it clicks effortlessly into place. 

You Will Find Your Purpose When You Look Back, Not When You Look Forward

When I look back over a 35-year career and a 57-year life, my purpose to date is multi-faceted, complex and clear.  I see family and love; I see friendship and creation.  I see problem solving and impactful new projects, I see complexity simplified, I see communities created in every venue and I see the building up of people and neighborhoods.  And all of this has taken place in a multitude of professional and personal venues.  From small service firms to the banking industry from community organizations to non-profits, from small start ups to 100+ year old multi-million-dollar organizations and finally to my own practice.  Each step unfolds at just the right time in just the right way.  All it takes is a little faith and courage to take that next step and that comes from listening to your inner voice.  Do what makes sense in the moment and trust that even if it does not work out, that that, in itself, is perfect for now. 

A Word of Caution – Sometimes You Need to Get Out of Your Own Way

There is only one thing that will ever get in the way of following your inspired path.  Syd Banks called it “contaminated personal thinking”.  Have you ever noticed that when babies learn to walk, they do it without insecurity and with no self-consciousness?  They pull themselves up and they fall back down, they try again, and they fall on their bum.  They never give up; they never get frustrated and decide that it isn’t worth the effort and they never get embarrassed that it isn’t happening quickly enough.  Insecurity and self-consciousness are the enemies of inspiration, but you don’t need to take them seriously.  That voice in your head that shows up in fear is just that, a voice in your head.  It can’t hurt you and it can’t stop you unless you decide to listen to it. 

Life is a game and life is an adventure.  You couldn’t plan it out with all of the effort and best intentions in the world.  You don’t need to know what you want to be when you grow up.  Just take your first step, know that it is right for today.  Put your whole self into it and it will give the whole world back to you.  And then it will show you the next step.  Your only job is to show up and give everything you have.  Try it, test your wisdom.  Give yourself the freedom of not having to figure it out and in that space, you will fly! 

Deborah Baron is a Transformative Leadership Coach and a 3 Principles practitioner who helps her clients achieve so much more with an ease they never thought possible. Sign up for her “Back of the Napkin Coaching” blog at www.deborahbaron.com