This is a guest post by Pace Smith.
You want to get paid to exist. You want a zero-hour workweek. You want to blaze your own trail, follow your own path.
That’s awesome! You can do it. It’s possible.
And I want to make sure you’re not wearing blinders when you imagine what getting paid to exist might look like for you. I want to make sure you’re not letting your past limit your future. I want to make sure you’re not falling prey to a dangerous myth:
The Myth: My path will make use of the skills I’ve learned.
Finding your path is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without being able to see the picture on the front of the box. But the pieces of your jigsaw puzzle aren’t your skills.
The jigsaw puzzle of your life forms a picture, and your skills are in the foreground of that picture. Your path is the background. It’s the common theme that threads in and out through your life.
I spent 17 years of my life researching artificial intelligence. Now I help spiritual entrepreneurs bridge the practical and the profound. My artificial intelligence skills are completely irrelevant to the current leg of my path.
If I had looked only for paths that used my skills, I would have never found my true calling.
Sometimes a lawyer switches gears to become a yoga teacher, and finds his true calling.
Sometimes a yoga teacher switches gears to become a lawyer, and finds her true calling.
But how can my path be something I’m not skilled in? Don’t I need to practice for 10,000 hours to become a true expert?
It’s easy to get discouraged by the 10,000-hour rule. It’s easy to think, “I haven’t put 10,000 hours into practicing yoga/law/glassblowing, so I’d better keep my mouth shut because I’m not an expert.”
So let me ask you this:
What have you put 10,000 hours into?
- Have you spent 10,000 hours learning how to love and be loved? You’re an expert on love.
- Have you spent 10,000 hours appreciating nature? You’re a nature appreciation expert.
- Have you spent 10,000 hours practicing knowing yourself in all your parts? You’re a self-knowledge expert.
- Have you spent 10,000 hours struggling through heartbreak, grief, and loss? You’re a grief expert.
- Have you spent 10,000 hours following your heart, seeking your purpose in life? You’re a pathfinding expert.
Sometimes we’re blind to our expertise because it doesn’t fit the mold of a commonly accepted profession, like glassblowing or accounting. But shine the spotlight of your attention on the parts of your life you take for granted.
Listen for the backing vocals instead of the lead melody.
- That decade of working odd jobs? Maybe you were learning resilience and flexibility.
- Those long years getting into and out of that abusive relationship? Maybe you were learning self-respect and boundaries.
- That dead-end tech career that wasn’t aligned with your heart? Maybe you were learning analytic problem-solving.
What have you been learning from your life?
To find your path, look at the background of your life, not just the foreground. (click to tweet)