If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
~ Joseph Campbell, to Bill Moyers
It sounds so simple.
“Follow your bliss”.
Even saying it feels good.
Right now, let those words trip off of your tongue. Say (or whisper) them to yourself: “Follow your bliss”
Feels amazing, right? It makes perfect sense. Why otherwise be alive than to follow this?
And then, something happens.
As dear Abraham of the powerful Law of Attraction teaching says, “you get practical”.
“What about my home, my kids, my wife or husband, my job, how will we pay the bills!!??”
Everywhere you look, most balk at the prospect of (seeming) risk. Most people don’t follow their bliss, due to the overwhelming impact of fear on our lives. And, we are preached this fear all day, every day – if we allow it.
So, in order to truly follow your bliss (or your “calling”, in our parlance), and revision your life in service of your calling, there are two helpful strategies we’ve employed that have worked remarkably well, namely:
1) Increase excitement
2) Mitigate (or eliminate) “risk”
Increasing excitement leads to an irresistible and irrepressible urge to move forward. It should be so strong that you literally cannot not create. Mitigating risk is the process of lowering the bar to action, so that we move forward as unimpeded as possible. Together, they form an unstoppable approach to activating our calling and doing its bidding.
Our calling, after all, is the reason we are here. To balk at it this, then, is literally to impede the expansion of the universe, a most unnatural act.
Let’s cover these two methods of allowing the flow, and subsequent activation, of one’s calling.
In the end, there is only one actual risk in life… and it involves never taking one.
(NOTE: If you haven’t yet read article I in this series, What Is Your Calling, please do so now)
We believe that the main “work” (if it can be called that) we must do in life is whatever it takes to allow this bliss, or “calling”, to enter into the world. To create the vision it stimulates, is – perhaps – the simplest and most concrete understanding of why we are here.
So, how to “do” that?
The first step to serving our calling, creating life anew, is really to allow yourself the joy of a fully fueled excitement and all the visions it provides. Once we’ve identified our true calling in life (or, have at least come to some semblance of clarity about it), it tends to release a special type of energy that comes complete with exciting, uninhibited visions of what could be.
Rather automatically, our calling begins to paint canvases of possibility in our imagination, of ways that it could be expressed and expanded.
Sometimes, mostly due to conditioning, we have a built-in ceiling which traps these visions into smaller than necessary packages. Our work at Ownstream includes an emphasis on the belief that ANYTHING is possible.
Take that in: anything is possible
So, the first piece of this then is to STOP thinking practically and really allow the imagination to do its thing. Let’s save the practical for later.
Want to live in paradise? You can.
Want an amazing, fulfilling, love relationship? You can.
Want a lucrative, mobile business that you can do/work on your own terms? You can.
Want an amazing community of like-minded people around you, supporting you, nourishing you? You can.
Writing can be a help.
Grab a pen and paper, and allow yourself to really let ‘er rip and see what flows onto the page. Let the excitement do its thing. Build a vision board around it (here’s ours), tag a bunch of images in Pinterest (like this), do whatever it takes to give your excitement the full voice it needs.
For many, this voice has been stifled for a very long time, so allowing it to emerge fully right now might be a bit overwhelming. That’s fine. Just let it be heard and keep saying to yourself:
“Anything is possible”
Once you have a new vision, just know that it will constantly morph and change. You might initially want a massive island and mansion in the Caribbean. “Yeah! I’m gonna own my own tropical paradise!”
Over time, you might find that this initial vision reflected an overcompensation due to years of neglect. Or, what you want may not change. Either way, you will be led by your excitement, and no shift in your vision will in fact stick if it doesn’t excite you MORE than what you had before.
For many people, following their excitement means leaving their day job. This often provokes a special kind of fear – the fear of being “broke”, losing your home, not being able to feed your family…
But, now that you know your calling, it is entirely possible for you to build a business around it. The most obvious way is to inventory the various skills you have and consider passing those along to others. (This is a large feature of our client work, empowering people with the ability to conceive and begin online businesses)
I happen to know many who have built 7-figure businesses online selling information products covering everything from healing to herbs, to marketing advice, to how to travel around the world for free. If you’re interested in something, it is highly likely that others are too.
Most importantly, we believe that your calling, or highest excitement, comes fully equipped with every tool you need to get out of the trap you’re in.
The most important thing is to FOLLOW… don’t get ahead of yourself and become wrapped up in future storylines or fear projections. Simply trust that the guidance you’ve received thus far will continue to reveal to you the next stone across the river.
Sometimes, our calling needs a bit of encouragement. Try these questions out and see what flows from there:
1) What is my ideal living situation? A full-fledged mansion overlooking the ocean? A cozy apartment in Brooklyn? A tiny house on wheels? An RV? A van? What excites you?
2) What is the ideal way you would like to serve the world? (we prefer this question over the narrowing, “how do you want to make money?” Money… and often much of it… follows from offering value and service to the world.) What impact do you deeply yearn to make?
3) How about your relationship – what kind of love partnership do you desire (if any)?
4) What lifestyle design would best serve your other interests, passions? What sort of experiences do you desire? Do you want to travel the world? Do you want to buy land and grow your own food? If anything were truly possible, what out-of-the-box design would excite you the most?
5) How do you want to feel on a daily basis? Do you want to be deeply fit, strong and flexible? Do you want to change your diet and eat better? How much sleep do you want per night?
These are some good starter questions that help cover some of the more primary life categories. By allowing your imagination a no-holds-barred experience with these, I bet some exciting and amazing images will be stimulated.
For some, this process happens in an hour and for others, it takes awhile. Check out how easily the images flow to you, and honor that pace. I always suggest taking an hour or so to sit with this reality of anything is possible, scanning through each of these categories. Then, take a walk, go for a swim, meditate…do something OTHER than think about this (when, inevitably, inspiration will hit). Then, return to it fresh and see, again, what arises.
Sometimes our deepest desires need a bit of coaxing, but they are worth the time. Our vision need not be too specific, either. In fact, keeping things very general for now is fine. It could be as simple as:
I desire a business that easily supports me and my family, that allows us the freedom to travel and explore our interests, that gives us an abundance of time to spend together and a home that feels warm, comfortable and open.
The basic rule of thumb is: if it feels good to be specific, do that; if it feels good to be general, do that. Go with what feels good.
Just remember, anything is possible and all answers are valid and to be respected. The universe has your back, and your main responsibility is to follow excitement. FOLLOW. That’s the key.
For many, the patterns in our lives have become so automatic and mechanical that we’re a bit lost and resist when faced with this simple concept. Recalling though the elegant design posited in the “calling” article, what if your excitement, your bliss, your very desire was the voice of a far greater power than you could ever imagine? What if the voice of God or the Creator was in fact the glee that fills your body, sending its direction?
Rather exciting, no?
Here’s a fun exercise: the walk of excitement.
Set aside an hour say in the next day or two, and simply begin by leaving the house. Then, let your excitement lead the way. See a tree you want to explore? Go towards it. Want to dip your hands in the pond and splash your face? Do just that. Want to walk down a different street than you’ve ever explored before? Do it.
This is a simple way to train the “excitement” muscle, letting it know that you’re fully present and, now, actually listening.
It’s important to point out that there is NO way you can possibly see the path from your current “here” to the “there” of your vision. But, your highest excitement IS the path. It knows far better than you the direction to take, the people to connect with, the places to go. It is along this road that we begin to notice synchronicity, that coincidences happen, that we are seemingly meeting magic and support everywhere we turn.
This is the wisdom of your excitement.
Also, it is a fairly common experience that some dramatically “better” manifestation or creation emerges along the path of one’s excitement. You might want a new home. Along the path of your search, you visit numerous great houses settling on one that seemingly fits all your needs and desires. It fits the vision of what you wanted. Then, suddenly, it vanishes from the market – as if by magic. Only after this, an even better option emerges with amenities you had never imagined that are ideally suited to you.
Once you experience a few of these special moments or synchronicities, the path will begin to create its own momentum, building a new confidence within you. This begins to snowball, leading you further and further down the road.
When it comes to serving our calling in life, our belief is that there is absolutely zero, real risk to doing just that. Our conditioning or subconscious voices might tell us a story or two about how “risky” a certain change or action is, but these voices are, in fact, bogeymen, not based in the reality that underlies a spiritual world.
When we say the universe has your back, we mean exactly that.
Many find this hard to swallow, and we certainly understand. For someone just embarking on the journey, it will probably seem downright crazy that we have nothing to fear and that we should go whole hog in the direction of our dreams.
But, after some time in the mix of our calling, the exhilarating hand of the universe always appears. This breeds a special confidence, an undeniable “knowing”, which compels us forward with a growing expectation of magic and guidance.
However, for those who can’t fully step into total faith right off the bat (and, again, we get why, and we grapple with our own limiting beliefs here at Ownstream HQ…), let’s look more logically at some common perceived “risks” and the vast land of alternatives available that can mitigate these seeming hurdles, reducing our stress and making it much easier to move forward.
To take one of the most common fears first, is financial security really so black and white, for example? If you fully believed that your life would be far better doing work that you deeply loved, would taking on a roommate for a few months (in spite of your age or position in life) be such a terrible thing? Are the minimal inconveniences that might come with a temporary roommate even comparable to giving decades of your life away to a job you hate, instead of pursuing your passions?
If it were possible that a new business, say, or a better relationship, could amount to a significant improvement over your current living situation, would moving in with a parent or family member for a few months, or downsizing to a smaller space be such a big deal? If you could save enough money to quit your job within six months by preparing food at home instead of eating out in restaurants, would you really think twice?
And, of course, there’s the ultimate bottom line:
If the universe in its infinite wisdom is compelling you forward by way of your excitement, is there any actual risk in going for what you want?
For some, a large part of this process involves reframing risk and, in all cases, dismantling the rules you are playing by eliminating the feeling of risk altogether or reducing it so that forward motion can commence.
For another class, suddenly the old risk is converted into the new, empowered view of “opportunity”.
I get to build my business while living with my mother, helping us renew our relationship and heal the pain of my past
I get to cut back expenses eating out in restaurants and save money to quit my job, learning to eat more consciously and feel healthier in my body
I get to minimize my possessions, selling my unneeded things or downsizing my space, finding more time, space, and presence in my life
The key here is to remember what is at stake: nothing short of reclaiming your life as your own, taking perhaps the boldest step ever in the direction of your dreams and aspirations, going for it and probably creating a far better life and world in the process.
Our resistance to making these temporary adjustments often belies a deep mistrust or lack of faith that what we desire can actually be made manifest. If we fully, 100% believed that what we wanted could come to pass, moving in with a relative or downsizing would be a no-brainer. This inevitably brings us back to the one fundamental building block of this process, which we hope to instill in our readers and clients – that is, that our deepest excitement is in fact divine, and gracefully supported as we proceed along the path of our lives.
“I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
So, again, the main “thing” to do is follow, follow, follow…
What is “risk” anyway?
Aren’t we actually discussing the future negative projections of fear? Nothing that is actually a threat right now, but only a possible threat if x, then y, then z? When has fear, in fact, turned up telling the truth?
Fear tends to be a simple reflection of the gap between what we desire and our belief that we can have it. So, why not simply close the gap?
Now, stepping into a fully, self-realized consciousness devoid of fear might be a high hurdle for most of us. So, a daily mixture of cultivating our faith plus including a proper appreciation of risk is wise.
This translates then into taking calculated risks, doing what makes us feel uncomfortable as opposed to what freaks us out.
So, it might mean giving 6-months notice on the job, giving you and your family enough time to properly transition while doing something irrevocable in the direction of your calling (more on that in the next article). Or, it might mean filing the proper incorporation papers for your new business. You might announce to your close friends and family your quiet, albeit real, intentions to change your career.
In other words, do something dramatic and strong but that also doesn’t sabotage the broader movement of transition. You can only handle so much, so do things that bring you to your line while not going over it.
Where’s the line? This is where a coach, close friend, supportive partner or family member can help. But, they have to be on board with the genesis of this intent:
The deep desire for more, for a life of adventure, in pursuit of your highest excitement: your calling.
Nothing less will serve you now.
We believe there is deep wisdom in connecting with one’s vision on a daily basis, and concurrently observing where fear or resistance pop up. This is an ongoing process of learning repeatedly to find our alignment and fully trust our excitement, allowing it space to breathe and expand, while teasing out the subtle (or not so subtle) ways in which we squelch the joyous voice of our calling.
For some, this process happens in meditation or a quiet time of contemplation. We have built vision boards both to hang on our wall and online (Pinterest is a great tool for that). Sometimes, simply looking at an image that connects you with your vision is enough. For some it’s a piece of music, a quote, a particular writer.
Whatever excites you is the way to go. Try not to judge your efforts, or if you do, try not to judge your judgement.
But a daily practice or habit of reconnecting with your vision is invaluable and necessary, particularly in the early stages when the vibrant energy of our excitement might need some help in activating and occupying the body.
Once you’ve connected with it, focus on it and see if you can expand it. Really allow this energy to grow, feel it in your fingers and toes. Think of it like a dimmer switch. Slowly take it from 1 to 10, observing how amazing it feels to be at 10. Then, throughout the day, when you are feeling cut off, simply come back to the switch and bring it back up again.
Then, go back to follow, follow, follow.
In fact, one simple way of drawing up the process might be to connect with excitement, follow that, reconnect, follow, reconnect, follow…
Now that there is a vision, a means of allowing it to flow through you, and that you have some tools for managing your fear and resistance, begin.
Don’t overanalyze things for now, just see how your excitement or calling leads you. What do you want to do, see or experience? How would you like to spend your day? Who would you like to see?
Interestingly, what tends to happen is that our excitement pulls us along in all sorts of seemingly wayward channels that inevitably turn up roses. Most importantly, we begin to develop a true confidence. We know that there is wisdom in our bliss and that we are supported in our following of it.
As coaches, we eventually lead clients into beginning the process of taking practical steps in support of the vision. These actions though are usually a very different experience than actions taken out of alignment with one’s calling. These always feel good and exciting (rather than like “work” or filled with stress) and we tend to get massively positive feedback from the universe when we take them.
Usually, the direction of our calling is loaded with all kinds of graceful involvement. Things flow, breaks go our way, luck is on our side. These are amazing when first experienced, but eventually become rather normal and expected.
And then, it inevitably happens.
A major roadblock emerges, perhaps a family member balks at our initial steps, or we become paralyzed with fear. Quite often, the fear of what others might think or experience as a result of the “new you” must be bridged.
More than most things, this becomes a stop sign that too many people heed.
In fact, this is the universe’s way of asking you:
Are you really on board? Are you truly going to serve?
Because, if so, it’s time for the full measure. The service of your calling is a full-time job, and it is only for those who are deeply committed. Why do so many efforts fall short? Why do so many visions remain simply that – visions? Fantasies?
Quite simply because the resistance – and its small, short-sighted promises of ‘acceptance’ and ‘security’ – remain more important to you than the radical adventure awaiting you.
Again, as coaches, we step in and help support and mitigate the perceived risks, reminding you that the far greater risk is to live without ever having undertaken this journey, without ever seeking to fulfill the promise which IS you.
When this occurs, we know that it is time to step fully into your new reality, to announce to the world and the universe that you “are” now something else. Some have called this a “burn the boats” moment.
As the story goes, this is where the army arrives on the shores of its enemy, ready for battle and conquest. The captain then does the unthinkable and orders the boats burned.
No turning back.
Our preferred title for this moment is “confirmation”. In various churches and spiritual communities, a young adept is led through a ritual of confirmation, thus confirming his space on the path. We view this journey, and life too, as a spiritual journey. So, “confirmation” feels right to us.
A “confirmation” moment must be public and happen out loud amongst and to your community. It is essential that you take a public stance FOR your calling, for your new path, for who you truly are.
This serves as the third step in our process of radical lifestyle redesign, and is often a dramatic turning point without which – as we’ve seen – success is tenuous at best.
A “confirmation” moment is when you take irrevocable action in the direction of your calling, where there is no turning back, and when you announce to the world – and to the universe – that, from this point forward, you are claiming a different path.
There are a few key components to this step, which I will share in the next article. But, given the momentum and power the mainstream path holds, it is very common to balk here. There is a lot at stake, and a risk of this sort is uncommon.
Let’s explore this crucial step next: