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Yesterday I was honored to talk on an alumni panel at my college, Allegheny College. It’s a lovely small liberal arts college in western PA, and they focus on creating the well-rounded, open-minded, curious graduates. The name of the panel was “More Than a Paycheck,” and it focused on the idea of finding your vocation, or calling.

Being put on the spot to answer questions about your passions in a succinct manner is a great way to organize your thoughts. All of the questions centered on the basic ideas of how to find and follow your passions. I, along with the three other panelists, all have lives that embody these ideals, and it was really interesting hearing about their journeys. Everyone’s job is completely different, and yet we were all exactly the same. Curious. Not afraid to make a drastic change to be happier. Not limiting our thoughts on what we think we should do vs what we really want to do. I was super inspired by those with me up there, and it also reaffirmed to me that the way I’m wired isn’t weird. There are lots of people in this world who think like I do. When you seem to go against the general grain of work/life, it’s super refreshing to be reminded that there are others right there in the trenches with you.

I wanted to offer up a bit of what I talked about yesterday. The last question asked us about how we can be sure to be true to our calling. I summed it up by saying that it’s listening to your soul’s heart. Trusting that little voice inside, even if it sounds weird or crazy or scary as hell.

Last year I sat down to do some planning for 2016 and was journaling out ideas. At one point I basically wandered onto the idea that I don’t really want to do traditional photography anymore. It was like the thought bypassed my thinking brain and came out my hand, I was so shocked to see it. But doing the planning for the upcoming months had me thinking about all this stuff, and apparently this needed to come out. Needed to be heard. I sat there, and I won’t lie. I was scared. Seriously freaked out, actually. I have been a full-time photographer since 2010, and my income has been weddings and traditional portraits like families and babies. The fantasy stuff, the stuff I really love, was shot just for fun on the side. Because most people don’t want that, I told myself. There’s no money in that. So I essentially was limiting my thinking on what I really, truly love to do. Yet, when my soul’s heart had a chance to be heard it was brutally honest about my future happiness. So after I calmed down and thought on it, I decided to listen.

I have completely shifted the focus of my business. And it’s funny, the more I lean into what I really, truly love to do, the more it seems to be happening for me. And even more interesting, since I started saying no more, since I started honoring that line I drew in the sand, I have almost a visceral reaction to the thought of shooting something I don’t enjoy. I mean, what’s the point of being in business for myself if I’m not doing what I love? And yet, it’s so easy to slip into those habits of what we think we should do, or what’s acceptable to do, or what we know. What’s safe. Familiar.

So I challenge you to listen to your soul’s heart. See if your passions and desires, what you truly love and want, are lining up with how you’re living. This isn’t just about jobs, it’s about life. And if your heart decides to reply to your nudging, at least give what it tells you a chance. Because, even if your mind rejects it and you get consumed by fear and doubt, it’s what your soul really wants. And you should want that for yourself too.

Other Fun Goodies:

I’ve been up to a lot of cool things recently. I was honored to be featured on The Rugged Angel podcast, where I talk about creativity and my journey to get to where I am today. Check it out, the link’s on the right. Also, if you’re not on periscope yet, you should be! There’s so much awesome stuff happening over there. I’ve been scoping every Monday and Wednesday about cultivating more creativity in your life, click the link on the right to see my past scopes!

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