Take a break to create
Holly's take on it
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE
You know that moment when you’re with your partner/friend/random family member and out of nowhere they say or do something utterly wonderful and you think, ‘THAT’s why I adore you’? Or you get a note through the post from someone reminding you of something that fills your whole heart with confidence again? Or that part in Finding Nemo when he slips into the Gulf Stream of warm water suddenly with the tail wind behind him and is propelled giddily across the ocean in perfect harmony?
That’s what it feels like to do what you love. It’s a flow of life. Creatively, mentally and soulfully, you feel somehow stimulated and fulfilled in equal measure — exhausted and stressed at times yes, but nevertheless happy. And isn’t that the goal in life?
We human beings have an average of just 29,000 days on the planet. Life is so fleetingly short. Especially when you realise that the average Brit spends more than 3,500 days of these at work¹, and a further third asleep², doing something that feels alien to you or fills you with dread on a Sunday night doesn’t seem to make sense.
Of course, not everyone is in a position where they can just go off and follow their dreams. With the playing field not being level to start with, the cost of living increasing as quickly as it is and the sharp rise in unemployment, choice is still a luxury. Add to that the time required to raise children, care for elderly parents, look after ourselves even…
But what if? What if we carved out a way to actually make it happen? What if it somehow became possible and we could teach the next generation that there’s a better way to exist? Forget the how for now, let’s look at the why. There are several reasons why doing what you love is important.
Life is so fleetingly short. Especially when you realise that the average Brit spends more than 3,500 days of these at work¹, and a further third asleep².
It gives you purpose and that leads to happiness
I truly believe there are few better feelings than finding your purpose in life. Katy Emck OBE is the Founding Director of Fine Cell Work — a charity and social enterprise which tackles social rehabilitation by teaching prisoners the art of creative needlework. When Katy and I chatted on my podcast, she told me a story about one of the people she was working with, Ken (47).
Ken was serving an eight year sentence and explained that he had only originally agreed to take part in the embroidery sessions because of the payment they received. Yet it had soon become about something so much more important than money. In fact, in Fine Cell Work’s most recent prisoner survey, earning money came eighth on a list of why their workforce opt to stitch with them.
Ken explained that each time he got to see his finished product and how much better he’d become at sewing over time, it motivated him to do more. Then he received a letter from a couple who’d bought one of the quilts he’d made. They explained that their child lay on it each day and they thought that the work was just wonderful. He couldn’t believe how uplifted he felt knowing that someone out there bought it, liked it and the fact that it was getting used.
As well as being sold, items made by the prisoners have also been exhibited at the V&A, The National Gallery and Tate Modern. The project has been rolled out in over 30 prisons as it’s been proven to improve self-esteem, boost confidence and has a positive impact on mental health. The best bit? Katy told us that the reoffending rate amongst Fine Cell Work’s trainees is only 4%, compared to a national average of 48% who reoffend within their first year of release. So it works. The effects of having purpose can be life changing.
What are the more practical benefits of this? In my book ‘Do what you love’ I explore how it brings you four incredible things:
- Meaning: Finding meaning will stop you spending a lifetime searching for what you truly love and what you’re friggin’ fantastic at. It will ultimately determine how you’re going to contribute to the world.
- A sense of place: You’ll know where you belong. Who are your community and flock? Knowing your environment that suits your soul will help you thrive.
- Simplicity: By connecting to your purpose, you’ll distil your world down to its very essence. Your time will be used well and not wasted.
- Deep confidence: Understanding that you’re here for a reason and that your contribution really counts will give you a strong sense of inner confidence.
It’s often about feeling valued, and this can transform your day from spending time watching the clock to wondering where on earth the hours have gone.
Finding meaning will stop you spending a lifetime searching for what you truly love and what you’re friggin’ fantastic at. It will ultimately determine how you’re going to contribute to the world.
Finding your passion can lead to wonderful things
Whether it’s to be a journalist, baker, exercise coach, stationery designer, milliner, vegetarian sausage roll maker… it doesn’t matter. If it’s your dream, you deserve to follow it. As well as making you happier, it might just alter your future.
When I chatted to Bobbi Brown (Founder of Bobbi Brown and Jones Road Beauty), on my podcast, I asked how she found her passion. She explained that when she was younger, nothing had really caught her attention. After a short spell at university ,Bobbi came home and told her mum that she wanted to give it up but didn’t know what to do next. So her mum asked her, “If today was your birthday and you could spend it doing anything you wanted, what would you do?” And Bobbi said that she’d want to go to the department store and play with makeup. So her mum asked if there was a college where she could study it. A friend of Bobbi’s father told her about Emerson College in Boston and Bobbi said, “I always say that when I found Emerson, I found myself.” She has since founded and sold a successful multi-million dollar global makeup brand too and now started her next venture which is already flying.
This brings another example that you don’t need to be in your twenties to follow your dreams either. Liz Earle MBE, who also set up her latest business in her fifties, told me, “The thing at any age is you have to be completely passionate about what you’re going to do. Because if it goes well, it will take over your life. You’ve got to have this feeling like you can’t not do it.” And I honestly believe that we all deserve to feel like that.
We also owe it to our ancestors
Ok bear with me on this one but as I wrote in my book, “We’re lucky enough to have role models who’ve followed their calling and have literally changed the world. You’ve only got to think of the likes of Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), Steve Jobs (Apple), James Dyson (Dyson)… and how their passions in life enabled them to build brands that in turn flipped their industries and people’s perception on their head.”
“If today was your birthday and you could spend it doing anything you wanted, what would you do?”
Especially if you’re a woman reading this. Think about what the women before us went through to provide us with the privilege to carve out our own destinies. We weren’t even allowed to vote, let alone work (except during the war when it seemed that ‘desperate times called for desperate measures!’). Shouldn’t we now be making the choice of what our lives should be; the choice they bravely fought for? For those who can, shouldn’t we try and pave the way for the next generation by showing what hard work, passion and determination can achieve and by refusing to settle? There are so many examples of people who haven’t let disability, finances or circumstance of any kind hold them back, so even though it’s not possible for everyone, might it be for some maybe?
Why now? Well, why not now?
Since the pandemic, life feels more finite somehow. Perhaps The Great Resignation is one of the greatest indications of change. It’s been called a ‘pandemic epiphany’. People are not giving up, they’re getting up — and going after the life they should be living; the one they have butterflies for. Maybe that’s what this societal shift in thinking might do for us: help us find that.
This recent period in time is also deemed by astrologers to be the Age of Aquarius — the leaving of one age (Pisces), and entering into a new one (Aquarius) — which apparently only happens every two thousand years. It’s deemed to be highly auspicious and associated with revolution, equality, social movement and progress. It’s believed people would start to look within for the answers they seek, instead of outward to money, possessions and other people. The more enlightened members of society will likely welcome the New Dawn with its emphasis on humanity, kindness, truth, spirituality and enlightenment. Heartening stuff indeed and fitting for this era.
It’s been called a ‘pandemic epiphany’. People are not giving up, they’re getting up — and going after the life they should be living; the one they have butterflies for.
Plus as we’re all starting to live longer and retire later, there’s a greater awareness that we don’t want years where we just ‘sit it out’ and have nothing to do. Surely we want to thrive, not just survive? Starting a fresh chapter. Beginning a new adventure. It’s ok to find your diamond later on. It’s never too late. The trick is to stay curious, try things out, see where they take you — because the rewards are great.
What would you try if you could have a go at anything? I’d love to know in the comments below. And if you (or anyone else you know) might need more inspiration or information to find your ‘Nemo stream’ and set up a side hustle or a business even, read ‘Do what you love’. It might just end in magic.