Going Within

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What might you change about your life if you listened to that inner voice in your head? You know the one – it whispers to you at your desk, on your commute, when you climb into bed at night – asking you, when will you chase your dream?

For Mike Lewis, the voice in his head whispered reminders of a childhood dream to become a professional athlete. Working at a lucrative finance job, he tried to stuff that voice down deep inside him, but it kept peeking out at the most inopportune times. Finally, after sitting at his computer and googling, ‘when do you chase your dreams?,’ Mike knew it was time to start listening.

I had the chance to meet Mike this week at an event for his new book, When to Jump – a collection of stories that illuminate lessons, pathways and insights to transitioning into a life and career you love. Needless to say, a lot of Mike’s presentation resonated with me as a wayfinder – and as someone who feels very much in the midst of my own ‘jump,’ I’m definitely reading the book.

One thing Mike said really stuck with me: “Show me how you spend your time and I’ll show you what your priorities are.” As part of the summer design sprint I created for myself last year – a sense-making exercise to try to get to the heart of who I am and where I’m going – I created a personal inventory for myself. In column after column of a spreadsheet, I catalogued answers to questions about how I spend my time, what communities I belong to, what activities make me feel ‘in the zone,’ and more. Suffice to say, I agree with Mike.

Another voice of agreement showed up this week as I perused a recent issue of Oprah magazine (she’s such a wayfinder!). In it, James E. Ryan, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, makes the case for being curious – about the world around us, yes, but especially about ourselves:

“It's just as important to listen carefully when we ask questions of ourselves. For instance, "What truly matters?" This is a powerful question, but only if it's an honest one. You may believe your family matters most, but if you look at how you're spending your time, you might discover that you're not living in a way that's consistent with that answer. We find out what we really value in the daily decisions that we make, so we might do well to stop occasionally and respectfully ask ourselves: What truly matters? Asked regularly and fearlessly, it is the single question that will help you get to the heart of your life.”

Getting to the heart of our lives – what an inspiring, daunting, and important aspiration. Put another way by poet Rainer Maria Rilke, “No one can advise you and help you, no one. There is only one way: go within.”

If you’re feeling called to go within, check out Wayfinders Collective’s ‘My Personal Inventory’ worksheet – a downloadable, printable activity that’s perfect for those moments when that inner voice starts to sing.