Your passion gives you an accelerated sense of progress: You're learning, unfolding; there's no end to what can be accomplished and no question of its value—to you and to others. It's like falling in love, one of the masters says. And there's joy in the doing—even if sometimes it doesn't come easy. Here, lessons on mixing pleasure with calling and finding the recipe for a meaningful life.
Life is about growth and change. When you are no longer doing that—that is your whisper; that is your whisper that you are supposed to do something else.
When was the last time you thought "It's time to move on, try something new"? Did it inspire you to make a change? If not, what prevented you from taking action? What will you do the next time you have a thought like that?
When you've worked as hard and done as much and strived and tried and given and pled and bargained and hoped…surrender.
Letting go is not about giving up on a dream—it's about knowing you've tried everything you can think of and deciding to accept whatever comes next. Have you been fighting for a dream? Are you making any progress, or are your efforts standing in the way of a bigger dream?
Everybody's life has a pattern.
If you don't feel like you've found your purpose yet, Oprah suggests thinking about what you're doing when you feel most at home. When do you feel most comfortable and sure of yourself? Do you find yourself drawn to a particular activity over and over again?
You can only become great at that thing you're willing to sacrifice for.
What is it that you do—apart from your job—that you would never give up?
Pick up the battle and make it a better world. Just where you are. It can be better and it must be better, but it is up to us.
I got to a point in my life where even going outside and playing basketball wasn't as important.
Don't get in the way of the groove.
If you're looking for a clue to your purpose, Jay-Z's story suggests looking at your life. What do you love doing? What absorbs you so much you forget yourself and…you "flow"?
Do something you really love that you would do anyway, do it in the most adventurous place, and if there's a genuine need for it and through that need you can help other people, you're home.
How does your work measure up to Mr. Sawyer's checklist? If it falls short, does this inspire you to make any changes in your life?
Ask people, "What is your passion?" and they often freeze. They feel as if they have to give an amazing answer, like "feeding the orphans of the world" or "writing a novel that changes the landscape of literature." Or they feel as if "I don't know" isn't an option. You might be one of those passionate people who have hearts aflame, pumping with desire. But you might have the kind of heart that's quieter, softer. It's harder for people to hear these whispers—I know, that sounds like a country and western song—but the way you tune your ear to hear them is to simply watch what you do.
Some people don't take whispers seriously, thinking they're somehow not legitimate, because they're spoken with a softer voice.
I actually learned this myself. I went to law school and then worked in government and on Capitol Hill. I was an economic policy guy, but for 10 or 15 years, I was writing articles on the side. If someone had asked me, "What's your passion?" I never would have said, "Oh, writing about business and technology." I would have seized up and stammered. Now if someone had asked, "What do you think about when you're spacing out at work? What do you do on Friday afternoons?" The answer was clear. As a result, it's what I do now.
So, what do you do when no one's watching? What do you read in your spare time? I've noticed that if people are interested in something, they'll steer the conversation to that topic. So, where do you seem to inevitably take your conversations? Too often the question, What is your passion? leads to an answer you've come up with for other people, whereas the other questions I've mentioned will lead to an answer for yourself.
Some people don't take whispers seriously, thinking they're somehow not legitimate, because they're spoken with a softer voice. I think you have to remind yourself that this is what your heart is telling you. It may not be screaming at you, but it might be giving you something more valuable. —As told to Oprah.com's Jancee Dunn
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