Sometimes you are lucky enough to read something that totally shifts the way you look at the world. I just finished reading Danielle La Porte's The Fire Starter Sessions, and since I started reading it I haven't shut up about it. Because I have spent a lot of time in my life thinking I should be organizing my life one way and it never really felt right, but I didn't know a better way.
I used to be a planner. Not because I really wanted to, but because everything I read said "Make your 5 year plan. Set your action items. Remember to set measurable goals with timelines." And so I did all those things, but it never felt like me. It felt like I was playing at being someone else. It felt like I spent my life waiting to achieve these goals, and not enjoying the present.
I started to shift my focus when my first son was born towards more joy in my life (I recently wrote about that HERE in my post on selfish kindness). I started focusing more on what made me happy, and tried to fill my days with more of that. My husband and I read Smart Couples Finish Rich, which helped us define our family priorities for spending our time and money. And the more I focused on these things, the more I felt like I was becoming aligned with my true self, like I was living a more authentic life.
Around that time I started this blog, and it became an outlet for me to explore what was clearly my main focus: living an artful life. Finding a way to make my life meaningful and beautiful in every aspect. Being my creative self, whatever form that might take, and trying not to worry so much about where it was all going.
But still I felt a dis-connect for me when it came to goal setting. Because I have big dreams. I want to affect change in the world in a big way, and I want to use my art to do that. But I couldn't find a way to think about tackling these big dreams without getting caught up in this framework that felt really soul-sucking to me.
I picked up the Fire Starter Sessions after I had read about it on at least five different blogs that I follow. Sometimes you just get beat over the head with something, and eventually you have to give in. What I read that really blew my mind is this:
First, get clear on how you want to feel. Then, do stuff that makes you feel that way.
What I had learned about joy from watching my baby was the real deal. All I needed to do was focus on what I really wanted to feel, and then find a way to make that happen, every day.
These are the things I want from my life. And the more I center my days around what Danielle calls my "core desired feelings", the more I feel my life taking the shape that I want, the clearer I get on how I can be who I want to be, and achieve some of those big dreams, in a way that feels authentic.
I recently had the chance to hear Danielle speak in Vancouver, and I wrote down this quote of hers, which expresses this concept so beautifully: "Your desire is your prayer." When she said that, I felt a deep YES! inside me. Our desires are sacred. Our dreams are sacred. There is no higher work than learning to listen to and honor them.
In the last few weeks, despite suffering through some major baby-related sleep deprivation, I have had moments of pure joy. I have had a huge break-through in my art-making, where I am learning to trust myself and achieve that amazing feeling of flow as I let the muse work through me. And I feel this clarity of purpose that I have been wanting so badly. I am no longer defining myself by external markers of "success" or trying to plan out my measurable actions. I get up every day and I make sure I do what I love. And I get so much more accomplished that way!
Whether you have read the Fire Starter Sessions or not, I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What are your core desired feelings? How do you organize your days to honor your priorities?