The recent death of Steve Jobs, a man who dared to dream and create beyond the constraints of the prevailing consciousness, brought many people including me to a place of deeper reflection. What does it mean to be really alive? How do I make sure that I am living my highest potential every day? How do I ensure that I will feel at peace when it is my time to leave this planet?
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.” --- Steve Jobs
I believe above quote holds a key to Jobs’ success. He followed his life purpose, what he was born to do. He didn’t have his life path handed to him on a silver platter. He was given up for adoption; he quit college after one semester because it was draining his parents’ entire life savings for him to attend. He still wanted to learn so he slept on the floor of his friends’ dorm rooms. He sold soft drink bottles he scavenged to return for money to buy food so he could sneak in to attend classes.
What was remarkable about this story aside from the passion he had for learning was what he said about the experience. He said that not having to fulfill course requirements for a specific degree freed him to learn what fascinated him. He followed his intuition and curiosity. And his interests rewarded him and all of us. One of the classes he took was a calligraphy class. Ten years later when he added the myriad of fonts he learned in that class to the typography in the first Macintosh – the world of computer communication is richer and much more expressive because of that.
How are we living our lives? Are we doing what we are put on this earth to do? Are we fulfilling our life destiny? As a famous humanitarian said about why he devoted his life to helping others, it was his life purpose – “The two most important days in a person’s life are: The day you were born and the day when you found out why you were born.” He had found his reason for being and was living it.
However like many of my worldly successful clients, you may not be in touch with your life purpose yet. Although they may have all the trappings of what we are acculturated to believe are accomplished and happy lives, they still feel something is missing. Usually that missing something is that they forgot or did not listen to their own personal dream. They are living the dream life that the media has convinced us is what we all want, but inside they are unfulfilled.
Truly there are no panacea to compensate for the hollowness, restlessness and lack of inner peace that comes from living someone else’s life, money and or crowd adulation can not fill the hole of inner longing.
“Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans” -
Of course there are the lucky and/or blessed ones who have known what you are dedicated to doing most of your life. It may be some inherent knowing that you’ve had since you were a child. Or it may be a trigger event or moment, which awoke in you your life calling. I am blessed to say that I am fortunate to have this experience when I was eleven years old. Knowing my life purpose has given me the strength to pick myself up after the many times I’ve fallen down to follow my inner guidance to achieve my dream life. I feel it is now my privilege to support others in following their dreams.
How does one go about finding your life mission? Look inside. It is there inside of you all along. There is an old parable about how Spirit placed the most valuable thing for us to know inside of us so that we have to be in touch with our hearts to find it. We have to quiet the numerous voices of the media, friends, and even our family to ask ourselves what is really true for us.
You may find it hard to hear inner voice immediately if you this is a new experience for you. Please be patient, it may take several times before you begin to get an inkling of it. Your innermost desire may be buried under many layers of outside voices over the years. There are tools that can help you access your inner wisdom. A very effective one is journaling. The very act of writing things down helps clarify ideas. Another one is to do a collage. Choosing pictures and words that evoke a sense of joy and peace in you helps elicit your core purpose.
Let the thoughts and ideas to gradually coalesce into a more coherent form; allow this process to take the time it needs. Be easy on yourself, step-by-step you will sense into what has been calling to you all along.
Getting some clarity in your present moment will give you more perspective on what’s important versus what’s urgent. It will give you ideas of how you can go towards your ideal life. Also smile, yes, even when you don’t feel like it. The very act of moving those smile muscles will help to relax you and quiet the noises inside your head. It’s almost like magic!
Enjoy your life journey, and may you always Live the Life of Your Dreams. So when the time comes for you to transition from this planet, you will feel at peace and contented that you have indeed lived the life you were born to live.
Marilyn Tam is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, humanitarian and former CEO of Aveda, President of Reebok Apparel Products & Retail Group and VP of Nike.
Marilyn wrote her books, How to Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want and her latest, Living the Life of Your Dreams so that others can learn from the experiences and secrets of successful and happy people and from her own experience.