This Friday just gone, I was enjoying my usual morning brew and Insta routine, when I came across something in my feed I massively connected with. It completely set the tone for my day and got me thinking – hence this post!
The post in question was by the lovely Manchester based photographer/ blogger Georgie Glass who was announcing that from now on, she’s going to focus more on what motivates and inspires her creatively with her work instead of what she feels like she should be doing for others. If you’ve not seen her 365 photo challenge, you should check it out here.
I’m a huge advocate of this kind of authenticity. I genuinely believe we can only ever be our most productive, creative and (strangely contradictory) of most value to others, when doing the things that truly make our hearts sing.
Following your heart sounds like something cheesy from a Disney film; something that you should definitely stop doing from about the age of about 10. Adult decision making involves weighing things up and making decisions with our head, right? Forget Pocahontas listening to the voices on the wind, sensible decisions that are ‘good’ for us are made logically without the need for our pesky heart getting in the way.
However all too often, if you sit and dissect what a ‘sensible’ decision actually means, it’s usually just a filter of other people’s ideas and expectations that we feel we have to conform to in order to be successful. We are taught that we need to be ‘sensible’ to get ahead. Take the job with more money, accept the client whose work you have no connection with if you think that’s the sensible option, but how successful are you really going to be if you’re heart’s not in it?
Not listening to your heart/gut/ intuition (whatever you want to call it) can cause us to become unstuck in our lives. We can find ourselves living more to the tune of what others think (or even worse what we think others think!) without even realising. It happens so naturally to us that, if we aren’t aware of this process, we can quickly find ourselves lost down a path that isn’t ours without any idea how we got there or how to get back.
I know this because it happened to me. I worked for years in marketing in the fast fashion industry. I was travelling to New York and LA every other month, planning glamorous events and working on big budget campaigns. It was a dream job and although I enjoyed it at the time, it never really felt quite right. After a redundancy I moved on to a series of marketing jobs in the fast fashion industry that being totally honest, I was thoroughly miserable in. I was wilting in an environment that just wasn’t me.
My gut tried to guide me to safety a couple of times but I hadn’t yet learnt to listen and trust it – to filter everyone else’s noise from my own! I was too busy trying to prove myself to be successful at my ‘chosen’ career..
This coincided with a period in my life where I was starting to learn a lot more about myself: who I am, my values and what I wanted in life. With an increasingly stronger sense of self, I could with absolute clarity, confidence and conviction say where I had found myself wasn’t where I wanted to be.
I was (mostly) surviving in an environment that pushed my buttons in all the wrong ways. I had found myself living someone else’s version of a success and it was making me very unhappy. I was craving to contribute in a more meaningful way. I wanted to flourish but this just wasn’t the environment/ the career I was going to do it in.
Knowing this was only the first step, understanding how to change it was a whole different ball game. However, the more I listened to my gut, the more I found my path was ever so slightly deviated each time. It was in small and seemingly insignificant ways at first, like reading a book that made me think of something in a different way or following an Instagram that opened up new connections. Then in bigger ways, like quitting my job! As I found new things that interested me, my creativity and ideas skyrocketed and fed off each other. The little inspirations added up and started to shape the view of what I wanted to do and more importantly how I could do it.
I’m very much still in this process now. I’m finding that the more I listen to the little voice inside, the stronger it becomes and the stronger the knowledge of what I want becomes. That little voice IS me and it knows instinctively what makes me happy. Having trust in that brings reassurance.
It’s so easy for our voices to get lost. You constantly need to filter out the noise of expectation to do the things that really make your heart sing in order to be your most creative, productive self. Whether that be in business or your everyday life.
If your stomach lurches at something, understand what it’s trying to tell you. If you’re heart soars, grab hold of it and follow it. Have faith that it will take you to where you’re supposed to be. I don’t know where that place is for me just yet but I know I’m on the right path and I trust myself to get there. Its a brave step to only focus on the things that make you light up when you talk but that really is where the magic happens.