What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do (part 1)

I hope you're in the mood for reading today! There was some genuine interest expressed when I recently wrote What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do and I was asked by many of you if I could explore this topic more here on decor8.

A huge thanks to Nathalie at Design Undercover for initiating this topic! To recap, Nathalie expressed to me that she's in search of her calling and launched Design Undercover as a way to explore a world that she feels connected to but isn't quite sure of what exactly she wants to focus on. Nathalie says, "I know the day I will find out I will definitely go for it."

She then asks, "Do you have any suggestions on how to find your calling in the design world? Is there anyone out there that feels the same way? What are we supposed to do when we don't know?".

Promise photographic print by Wren and Chickadee.

Nathalie those are loaded questions and there's no clear answer for everyone, no secret book to reveal things, no magic pill to take, because it's about following your gut. I've heard many experts out there speak of the need to get in touch with the things you did as a child, and I think this is helpful advice. My career counselor at Northeastern University strongly encouraged this as well. What were you into? What did your parents encourage you to do based on their observations? Sometimes this holds the key to finding your path in life as an adult a little quicker.

When I look back at my childhood, I spent huge amounts of time rearranging furniture and decorating our family home, playing 'teacher' and 'shop owner' in my bedroom, and creating illustrated books and writing in my journals pages at a time on a daily basis. Writing, teaching, and decorating were extremely strong talents of mine exhibited at a very early age. I would go as far as to beg my mother to take me to model homes in new developments on Saturdays just so I could tour them and look at how the rooms are arranged and so I could take all the free materials and go home and edit all the floor plans with my pencils showing how I would have designed things. Yeah, a little intense for a child. Now I work with clients designing their homes. See the connection?

Also in school, I loved art class. My teachers constantly raved over my creative eye as they called it, and my ability to do collage work but beyond school I haven't explored art for myself, but I do love it and devote a lot of space on decor8 to it so there you see this being explored in an alternate way. Painting and collage work currently is not my passion but I may take it up as a hobby soon. I write about artists a lot though. Yes, you guessed it, another connection made.

I was a huge Science and History fan, I usually made straight A's in these classes without trying. Math was and will always be my weak point. Today I see my love for these things displayed in again, in alternate ways because I'm a huge nature lover, enjoy taking photos outside, and enjoy period films and visiting places that are filled with history and pre-war architecture. Also in school I was always involved with the school paper somehow, at one point I was an editor with my own column. Now I freelance for the Boston Globe. Again, another connection to my past.

Simple Beauty, fine art photograph by Marie Stevenson.

The reason I laid all this bare is because it's a good thing for everyone to do at some point in their life. To think about what they were strongly passionate about as a child. Today I am a published writer, blogger, and interior design consultant. It makes sense I'd be on this path as I look back.

I plan to explore other areas in which I have a measure of talent, for instance I've wanted to be a shop owner since I was little and so decor8 just may become a little shop someday. I want to have cupcakes on Saturdays along with a book reading session where I read to children from a beautifully illustrated book that also teaches the importance of having strong moral values and of exploring creativity through art and design. I think moral values are slipping away from us and I'd like to do something, no matter how small, to show children that it's also very cool to be smart, nice, and well-mannered. I have a very special shop in mind, my business plan is quite extensive! I'd love to write a book as well, but I may just start off with a newsletter as I've mentioned before and see what happens from there.

Make a list and see what it reveals. I think that's a good way to get started on this journey of finding your 'true calling', although I don't think everyone has only one thing in life that they are able to do well. I believe we can do many things, it just has to do more with how badly you set your heart on something and the opportunity you have to pursue it. I write this from an American perspective because here, our culture encourages us to pursue our dreams, it's not called "The Land of Opportunity" for nothing.

Not to go all patriotic on anyone, but I only recently appreciated these words when I learned more about the work life of other cultures and the limits that are placed on those living in certain lands. Despite our nutty government right now, I am so happy I was born in this country and raised here to know no boundaries when it comes to the pursuit of happiness. For those living in a country where they may have had to train in a certain profession and strongly encouraged to stick to that for life (like my mother-in-law in Germany), I can suggest taking up a hobby that will help balance your life if you are a bit sad about your profession. Sometimes all we need is a good hobby and our day job no longer looms over us like a dark cloud.

I could write a book about all of this... But for now, I'll close with these thoughts and open up things up for reader questions and comments.

What did you like to do as a child? Can you comment below and also tell us what you do today for a career?

What To Do When You Don't Know What To Do will continue later with quotes from some great talent out there that I asked to participate in this discussion. Erin at Design for Mankind is exploring a related topic and asked me to join in along with Marisa at Creative Thursday who promises a podcast tomorrow as well. I can't wait. More on that to follow!

(images linked above to source)