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Do What You Love, Love What You Do

Everyone dreams of a life full of love and adventure. But we fill ourselves with reasons not to follow our dreams. Instead of protecting us, they imprison and hold us back. Life will be over before we know it, so now is the time to really live life and love.

In Life Lessons, Elizabeth K - bler-Ross and David Kessler suggest that love is the only gift in life that is not lost and is ultimately the only thing we can really give. Start by loving yourself.

1. Love Yourself. To give love, you must have love. Too often we put conditions on love. Conditions on love weigh it down and keep us from loving completely.

- Be Compassionate With Yourself. Don't judge, criticize or beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Cut yourself some slack.

- Nurture Your Soul. Do things that make you feel good about yourself and make you truly glad you did them. Let the love in that's all around. Schedule and budget for these nurturing activities; pick something that will make you feel great and do it!

- Remove Barriers. Let go of conditions you place on giving and receiving love. Give love freely with no thought of receiving love in return. Receive love with no conditions or self-criticism. Remember the Beatles song lyric from The End, '' And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.'

2. Love What You Do. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in Flow, the Psychology of Optimal Experience, identifies eight major components of enjoying an activity. His studies on flow suggest an activity is enjoyable when at least one and often all eight components are present.

- Completion. We need tasks with sufficient complexity to challenge and stretch us to develop our skills but that won't overwhelm us.

- Concentration. The root of concentrate means to 'center'. We need tasks that allow us to wrap our mind around it and be challenged by it. Tasks that are too hard will overwhelm us; tasks that are too easy will bore us.

- Clear Goals. Stephen Covey tells us to begin with the end in mind, to know what we'd like to accomplish. A clear goal gives us a specific outcome that our mind can use to discern if we are meeting the test.

- Feedback. Feedback allows you to compare your outcome to your goal. It's a symbolic message that allows you to create order in your consciousness and shift your efforts if your outcome is off course.

- Deep, Effortless Involvement. Attending fully to what is happening in the present prevents our mind from filling with extraneous worries, thoughts and distractions. Applying all your relevant skills to meeting challenges focuses your attention completely, so you cease being aware of yourself as separate from your activity. You become one with it; you act spontaneously.

- Sense of Control. Developing your skills so you can reduce the margin of error as close to zero as possible and being able to influence a doubtful outcome produces a sense of exercising control in difficult situations.

- Self Concern Disappears. Protecting our ego, the image we hold of ourselves as separate from everything else, requires mental energy. Enjoyable activities with clear goals, stable rules and challenges well matched to our skills present no threat to our egos. Immersion in such activity strengthens our sense of being capable.

- Altered Sense of Time. Immersion in challenging activity causes how we perceive time to speed up (we look up and 8 hours have passed without noticing) or slow down (like a batter watching a pitch in slow motion). Complete involvement frees us from the tyranny of time and deepens enjoyment.

Pick an activity that has these traits and you'll love what you do.

3. Love in Service to Others. In A Simpler Way, Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers suggest that any self-expression that is not meaningful to others is irrelevant and won't survive in a systems-seeking world. So expressing what you love in service to others is your task.

- Do What You Love. Identify anything that meets some or all of the eight criteria listed above for loving what you do. What would you do if money were not an object? Let your list simmer on the back burner of your subconscious.

- Combine Activities You Love. List without judging the things you love to do and how you might combine them. If you love writing, travel and spirituality, you might consider traveling to spiritual sites and writing a travel guide on how to get there and what to do once you're there. Or consider organizing, marketing and guiding travel tours there. Be creative; use your imagination!

- Serve Others. As you imagine possible manifestations of the activities you love, guide your imagination to ways that serve others. Remember, if you're going to make a living by doing what you love, you'll need others to pay you! Make your offering something others want or need!

Love and treat yourself well, learn what you love to do and do what you love in a ways that serves the needs of others! You'll be glad you did!

Copyright 2005, Fruition Coaching. All rights reserved.

Rick Hanes is a life and career coach, writer, outdoorsman, gardener and tireless advocate for living life with purpose and passion. He founded Fruition Coaching in 2004 to lead the fight against leading lives of quiet desperation.

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