Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Want to Know What You’re Meant to Do? Listen to Your Ache

Recently, I met an ex-musician who told me every time he sees a band perform, he feels an ache. It actually hurts him to listen. Why? Because it reminds him of the pain of an un-lived life.

Listen to the ache

Photo Credit: Orangedrummaboy via Compfight cc

I know that ache.

It used to come every time I read a book or saw a speaker step up on stage. Whenever faced with someone sharing their gift, I would feel it. Late at night or early in the morning, it would tease me, telling me I was missing out, taunting me for not answering my calling.

And for the longest time I made the mistake of ignoring it.

At times, I think, we all feel this ache. It aggravates us only because we know what we’ve done to ourselves. We’ve listened to the adult in our heads instead of the child in our hearts. And when we do this, we lose.

Because adults rarely have time for sidewalk chalk and dance parties and whimsy. They tend to quash impractical ideas and dissuade you from risk. Call me naive, but I think you need to listen to that child — at least long enough to know what you’re meant to do.

“What wrecks you?” I heard a preacher once say. “What bugs you? What can you just not stand? These are clues to your calling.”

Turns out, he was right. The broken things you notice are precisely the problems you’re meant to fix [tweet]. It took me a long time to do this, to pay attention to my ache, but once I did, things started to align.

And what I learned, what I think we all learn, is that nothing is wasted. Everything in life is leading to a moment that’s to come. It’s all preparation — a wonderful redemption of what we thought were long-lost dreams.

Now that I’ve come in contact with my calling, I know that the difference between a fulfilled life and one full of regret is whether or not you listen to that ache. Whether you pay attention to that unsettled feeling and finally realize all is not right with the world until you stop hiding your gift.

So I have one very simple question for you: as Mary Oliver once wrote,

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

In other words: What’s your ache? What unsettles you, like a concert messes with my musician friend? That’s a clue to your calling. Do something today to share your gift, and let it begin with leaving a comment. Feel free to promote whatever you’re working on in the comments.

Want to read more? Go here to read an excerpt from my new book.

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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