Wednesday, July 13, 2005
do what you love
today, a friend sent me a copy of a commencement speech steve jobs gave last month at stanford university's graduation ceremony. it's a great speech, you can read it in it's entirety here. the part that resonated with me the most was the following:
what a powerful yet simple way of evaluating what we truly want to be doing with our lives. if today were your last day, wouldn't it be worth the struggle to do what you really love?
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
one of the things i think we get to decide to push aside in our quest to go after our dreams is discouragement. doing what we love involves not only reminding ourselves that it's worth it, but often doing so for those around us as well. the level of discouragement in our culture about getting to do what you love is pretty high, in fact it's unbelievably high. and yet, people do it all the time. i'm certain you can think of examples from your own life of people who have held out for something they truly wanted - and gotten it.
so don't be surprised if you run into some discouragement, if people tell you your crazy or warn you against being naive. try asking them in response what they would do if they decided to full out for their dreams. decide now that you will not let their discouragement, or your own, prevent you from doing what you love.
a key step in pushing aside discouragement is seeking out people who will encourage you. i got the advice a couple of years ago to surround myself with a group of 'hopeful, helpful cheerleaders'. i have used this as a guide in thinking about who i pull in close and choose to spend my time with - and it's worked. having people around me who are hopeful about following their dreams and will relentlessly encourage me to follow mine has been and i'm certain will continue to be essential.
who are your cheerleaders? do you need to recruit more?
none of us can remain hopeful all the time. but deciding that discouragement will come, and if you go for what you love it certainly will, and that you are not going to let it deter you is a powerful step in the direction of your dreams.
As well as surrounding myself with real people to encourage me, I also have an Encouragement Committee in my head! The great advantage of this is that I can have anyone. At the moment, it's Rilke, Mary Oliver, Katherine Hepburn, Mrs. Einstein, Keith Johnstone, and my Granny. They always know exactly how to support me. Yes, a little insane perhaps, but it works for me, so I thought I'd share.