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.

114 thoughts on “Want to Know What You’re Meant to Do? Listen to Your Ache

  1. Yep, I can definitely relate to this. This is how I feel whenever I see someone writing a successful novel. It’s not that I’m jealous of them–it’s that I want to do that, too, SO BADLY.

      1. Jeff,

        Look at your responses in this comment field! You have struck a truth! It is one most of us are familiar with. I applaud and commend and thank you for finding a way to represent that thing which pushes us from the inside, no matter what! Even the sound of the word, “ache”, is representative of the feeling.

        No regrets, but at age 72, I am following my “ache”, and 20,000 words later, am well into a novel which – whether read or unread by others – is helping me to follow that ache. I doubt it will ever go away. Got to hurry, though. I sure waited a long time to find it…now, I am writing as fast as I can.

        Your 500 words a day and your daily coaching have made a great difference for me.

        Many thanks to you,


      1. Your story and encouragement are awesome! You inspire so many people to follow their dreams and make them come true – thank you!!!

  2. I knew exactly to what you were referring after two sentences. I had to follow my “ache” and it’s led to some pretty great opportunities. The future is looking brighter and brighter every day.

    Thank you for your inspiring words. You speak the truth.

  3. For me it began as a frustration that there are so many people like I was – oblivious to the benefits of reading with consistency and intention. While my project to that end began as a labor of love, it has become the foundation for everything else I do, affording me the opportunity to work from home earning a living doing only things I enjoy.

  4. So True! and timeous too… From a little girl, I have always wanted to live on a farm. Decided recently it was time to make the move from the big city and follow a different passion and lifestyle

  5. That ache. That excruciating ache deep down inside a heart, that breaks with loss every time what you’ve once given up surfaces in the littlest ways. Oh, I know that ache. For me it was giving up a dream of riding horses in lieu of a teenage romance that turned into a marriage and four children. Nineteen years ago I gave up my dreams and every time I see a horse my heart cries out. Sounds silly, I know. I “should” be thankful that I have a wonderful husband and four amazing children but I just can’t forget about my first great love. I “hear” God tell me to write, which is nothing even remotely close to my “passion” and so I do but my heart isn’t in it. If only money were no object…

  6. When that ache is mentioned I had to take a double thought. Yes a double thought because as I watched my baby sister and other books be published or I watched speakers I had an ache. I understood the author one, I’m a writer, but to have an ache when I saw people speak? I shoved that one away, who wants to be a speaker. As I read that and really thought about that ache for lack of a better word it smacked me. I paid attention. In fact I attended a women’s conference this weekend and felt that ache. Being inspired I allowed myself to open up and grabbed a paper and pen and wrote a speech. It’s straight forward but profound. Looking back on my life, all the experiences I’ve had and not pleasant, I can now understand after reading the book, why. This scares me to death, I mean really, who is psychotic enough to want to stand in front of people and speak. Even as I type that my inner self is screaming at me, you. Weird. Understanding the cause makes all the difference. So now I’m taking the little opportunities I have as speaking opportunities to practice.

  7. Thank you for your words, Jeff. Lately my ache has been causing a lot of pain that I’m trying to figure out. I have a book out on my website http://www.samikmartin.com and am working on a second. I am trying to learn how to be able to do that full-time. Thank you for your words — I’m working through your workbook now and seeking that guidance. I’m wishing encouragement for everyone!

  8. This is the thing that’s pushed me to keep trying in my business, even though I’ve struggled with it for several years now. I have a yearning to share the message that EVERYONE has creative potential. And I want to help them find it, and make money with by doing the things they love the most.

    On a personal level, I feel this every time an incredible song comes on the radio…I used to write songs, and I haven’t in many years…I think because I’ve succumbed to the noise of life…I don’t take time to just sit and wait for the songs to arrive. Time to fix that!

  9. My ache was solving all the problems I was forced to handle as a single parent, alone. I solved the ache by gathering tips from other single parents who now have grown children. Those tips have produced 7 books, so far. Small books, 64 pages, easy to read. See my website at singleparentwisdom.com. Now I ache to spread the word through speaking engagements. Thanks.

  10. My ache is similar to your’s Jeff. I know I’m supposed to write and speak. Every time I hear another story of a dad spending too much time at work under the guise of “I’m doing it for my family” it hurts my heart. I’ve been that guy. Time for me to write and speak about NOT being that guy.

  11. Write.share.be…. simple enough. Live free in God’s calling. It’s one thing to know freedom, it’s another to live free. http://janellekeith.wordpress.com is one way to write free, from a healed place. Writing my story of losing 132 lbs changes me. It’s not a “how to lose weight” book but a undoing on my way to living free from my previous me.

  12. Oh that ache. I love it and I hate it. I love it because it has taken me on some beautiful paths. I hate it because you really are (on many levels) kind of powerless over it. Not sure if that makes sense except inside my head.

  13. My ache changes, or I have more than one, I suppose. Hearing my kids talk about what happens at school makes me wonder how to get parents to communicate with their children – teens, to see what they need, not just what they want, to hear what they are saying, not just listen to their words… to love them enough to say no sometimes, and yes at others…

    Another is helping people see their creativity, in many different areas, to diminish the fear of thinking creatively – because I don’t know that we every really lose the fear…

  14. At (almost) age 76 it is easy for me to say, “I’ve lived my life, I fulfilled my dream, and now my ache is to finish life and pass on to what God has for me in Heaven.” But, the fact is, God has left me here on earth to do something. My ache is for todays teens (I have 4 teenage grandkids) and the struggles I see them going through. I want to be available to teens in my family, my church, and my community who need someone to care about them and to listen to their dreams, their struggles, and their world view of hopelessness. Each day I long for an opportunity to “speak into” the life of one more youth!

  15. You tweeted out the first line of this post on Saturday night, and it really connected with me. I had just returned from a sectional semifinal high school boys basketball game where I felt that ache. As soon as I walked into the gym and heard the pep banding playing my soul was brought to life. Basketball has always done this to me, and I’m not sure why. And I’m not even sure what it means. Unlike your musician friend this ache doesn’t unsettle me. It doesn’t mess with me or remind me of an un-lived life…I just know I feel alive when I’m around basketball. And unfortunately, the NBA isn’t looking for 36-year-old dudes with average skillz 🙂 I want to answer this ache…just unsure what that looks like right now.

  16. Since my marriage ended almost 3 years ago, I’ve had so many different aches, I’ve not been sure which one was the loss and which one was trying to lead me to gaining new things.

    But this piece has helped me get closer to what I feel I need to do. I’m a writer when I’m not at work, and I have gained so much understanding and insight into the issues for male mental health that my writing and my experiences and knowledge should come together and start a blog and maybe website, being open, honest and supporting for men struggling with split families and emotion confusion and hurt.

    There are other things I would like to work on, and I have a finished novel sitting on my hard drive, edited and reviewed favourably from an American writer with a large and successful publishing history. All anyone needs to do is start… and keep going.

  17. It’s very, very hard for me to decide specifically what I want to do with my one wild and precious life.

    All I know is that I write like it’s my secret lover. I hide my thoughts and ideas away. I’m afraid I have too many ideas…too many passions. What I can say for sure is that I do believe in this life being wild. I want it to be wild all my days. I never want a tamed life. Or one that is disposable.

    Adventure in every way. Art in every corner. Seeping out and spilling over. I want to build, create, manufacture and produce. I want to be a trendsetting, life-giving firecracker shaking up expectations and long held ideologies.

    I want to spread sanctuary like it’s fast food and kindness like it’s gone viral. I’ve got to create. I simply have to. Else I’ll die.

  18. Hmmm every time I spend time in deep prayer about our deep ache for Haiti and what God wants us to do with that, He brings me to something like this. Thank you for these wise words. They’re just what I needed to keep going. I have this feeling our trip in May is going to solidify somethings for us… EEK! Oh and my latest project is working on a site that better supports missionaries. After doing a survey of missionaries from all over the world, 99% of them are feeling forgotten and abandoned by their home countries, churches, etc. It’s called Cups Overflowing because our missionaries shouldn’t feel forgotten and abandoned.

  19. This is a vague notion that’s bugged me for a while: I want to bring encouragement to people who feel disconnected from community. Having lived on my own as a single male for a while now, I know how destructive loneliness can be, and I want to help people who feel there is no escape. For now I simply have a blog where I would like to share people’s stories and possibly connect parties who have had similar experiences. I also use the blog to discuss wrestling with the tension of living as a Christian without being weird to the people around us.

  20. I had that same ache with music. I’ve somewhat sated it by joining the worship team at my church. I have another one with a ministry I feel called to, but still not sure exactly how to proceed. I can write what I often can’t say out loud, at least not in a coherent manner because I go off on rabbit trails and/or can’t say the word(s) in my head. I get some of the writing urge out with blogging, but I am fairly certain that I need to write a book. And where I haven’t had the time to put into writing, I may be getting that time due to physical issues that are cutting into my music time and “caretaking” (co-dependent enabling) time.

  21. I want to teach, motivate, share my “experience, strength & hope ” with others…written word; in front of groups; mentoring and using my intuitive skills to carry this message!

  22. I so relate to what Chris says on two levels. I have known so much aching throughout my life, but in more recent years have found relief and peace through unlearning some of the “weird” Christian ways that I now believe are more “culture” than relationship with God, And I long to see those like me who may also struggle to relax into who God really is find that truth and peace. To this end, not feeling the call to writing myself, but having two dear friends gifted this way, I’m doing what I can to promote their blogs. This is why I subscribed to your blog Jeff, because I see my gifting as the behind the scenes person who can do the computer stuff and run the Facebook community page I set up to spread the word about the wonderful words they each write (and other inspiring writers too!). If you’re interested in viewing it, the link is http://www.facebook.com/PresentToThePresence.

  23. Hi Jeff, Thank you for this, and all of your other posts/books which have inspired and encouraged me to keep moving closer to my dreams. My most recent step was (finally) starting a blog (www.monishavasa.com), and I try, every day, to just do a little bit towards building my dream as a writer. The ache for me was a whisper in my ear that just never went away. Its funny that in many ways, its hardest for us to do what calls to us most deeply–perhaps because the fear of “failure” is so great. Thanks again for all you do–Monisha

  24. Thanks for this post
    Jeff. Inspiring, comforting …. and resonates so well when already on the journey 😉
    Has anyone ever read
    the opening of ‘Wild’ by Jay Griffiths? An elegant way to describe her ‘ache’ of
    wilderness and beautiful expression of what a
    calling feels like.

    felt its urgent demand in the blood. I could hear its call. Its whistling
    disturbed me by day and its howl woke me in the night.

    heard the drum of the sun. Every path was a calling cadence, the flight of every
    bird a beckoning, the colour of ice an invitation: come. Every mountain top
    intrigued my mind, for the wind at the peaks was the flautist, licking his lips,
    dangerously mesmerizing me with almost inaudible melodies.

    was the calling, the vehement, irresistible demand of the feral angel – take
    flight .”

  25. As always Jeff, very instructional, motivational, and edifying. I’m actually on the flip side of this coin. I read below of others in motion of pursuing their “ache”. I find myself stagnating. I have a blog @ https://joshua-asforme.blogspot.com/ . I haven’t posted to it in quite a while. Simultaneous, I have three seperate book projects with outlines and character development and even some chapters started that I’ve let fall by the wayside. Foster parenting, struggles from said foster-parenting, life events/tragedies, and the like have quenched my fire, so to speak. I am feeling this “ache” but lacking something I can’t define. I’m not sure if it is direction, focus, a space to focus in, or encouragement. As for the last, I have the continual encourage of my bride to pursue and get “put pen to paper” but this does not seem enough for some reason. I would welcome any who would care to weigh in on their experiences with this atrophy of will.

  26. I know the ache! I’ve been ignoring it for years now. I let others and
    myself convince me that I had to be practical and responsible, live up
    to the staus quo first, in order to earn my right to take risks and
    follow my gut. What a load of crap! I’ve finally changed all that, found
    the ideal opportunity and am seizing it head on. Thank’s for this post,
    your work has been and continues to be helpful and remind me,
    regardless of those who try to dissuade me from the course I have set, I
    am following my gut, my heart, my calling! Thank you Jeff!

    Check out my project here: gofund.me/homesteadinMO

  27. I had a really great day job Jeff and I’ve just resigned. It’s probably one of the craziest decisions I’ve ever made…. is it scary? you bet… am I scared? no…. It came to a point where my day job was becoming a nuisance to my writing.

    So, now i’m into writing and freelancing full time. Gotta lot of work to do to build my platform but, im happy. I guess, at the end of the day, that’s what counts. Love your posts! I get bits and pieces that are useful to what I’m doing. Thanks!

    Eeva Lancaster

  28. Nice post, Jeff. Hmmm… the ache. I had an ache forever and finally wrote, and had published, a book. Writing erased the ache. Now, though, I’ve lost direction and not sure what the ache (s) is all about? Being of service (in and out of writing) is part of the ache, not writing creates an ache of its own. Which road to take? Deirdre Thurston http://www.deirdrethurston.com deirdrethurston.com/

  29. You’ve put into words what I’ve always felt. My “ache” has always been for home and family — and the issues surrounding building strong homes – even when I was little. I’m publishing my first book this year and leaning into the calling that’s been there all along. Thank you for your encouragement and wisdom. Your blog is a gift!

    1. Krista, I met you two years ago at the SheSpeaks Conference. You were a light then and you’re a light now! I am so happy with you for the release of your book!

      I remember shortly after meeting you and leaving the conference, you were one of my first “guest bloggers” at my blog, http://www.couture31.org. Even now I am thankful. Many, many blessings coming your way because you have remained dedicated to your calling!!

      I agree with you, this blog is a true gift!

  30. Every time I read one of your posts about work that matters, I feel the ache, Jeff. I’m trying to build my author platform and I’m releasing my second book in a few weeks, but I’ve a ways to go before the dream of writing full time comes to fruition. Your posts and podcast give me hope though so thanks for that. Everything I’m currently working on is here: https://danieladorno.com/home

  31. I have never heard it described as an ache, but it is a very
    accurate description. I had an experience a couple months back. I keep an idea
    journal and would often tell my wife about the ideas I have. One day she said
    something to me that completely changed the way I was going about things. She
    said, “You have a lot of great ideas, but you never do anything about them.”
    She was right. I have a lot of ideas, their quality is questionable sometimes,
    but never did anything with them. That is when I decided to start a website, http://www.lessonsfromourfathers.com.
    I love to read, study, and write. After my wife’s revelation to me, I decided
    to learn how to and start a website publishing a lot of the research I do. It
    is still in its infancy, but I hope to make it a comprehensive site with easy
    to understand research concerning some of the most prominent issues of our day,
    such as income inequality.

  32. Aches… when I see someone getting their writing published. when I hear someone singing who is crazy talented and gets their power from that instrument of their voice (or piano, fiction writing, etc.)

    It’s not so much a medium for me. Basically, when I see someone with an unfair advantage, so in mastery of their craft, and using it to share their voice and getting it out in front of others.

  33. This post was like God’s whisper to my heart! THANK YOU for being transparent and encouraging! I am learning to follow where the “ache” is and watch where God leads. I have a passion to equip, empower, and encourage all women to reach their fullest, God-given potential. I write about that on my blog, http://www.couture31.org, and the journey has been unexplainable…so fulfilling, so life-giving, such a calling. Thank you for reiterating the need to follow through where He leads!

  34. This is so true. I have always felt an ache to transform the open grassy center of my high school into a useable outdoor area as it is currently just an open grass field.
    Although I haven’t started working on the outdoor area, I’ve started working in other ways to advocate for a more sustainable future. I’ve made a list of all the things I want to do before I graduate here: https://www.elizabethpeters.com/2015/03/01/before-i-graduate/

  35. Thanks Jeff, you inspired me to write today. I hadn’t written in quite some time. But then I felt that ache. And I have that quote hanging on my wall, walk by it every day, but never thought of it so much as I have today. Posted here writeyoutopieces.com. My ache is unwritten words, letters all alone, left apart.

  36. I’ve always wanted to be a programmer since I was 7. Always, that is, until around last year, when I got involved with the underground music industry. Now one thing in looking at is music visuals, just the simple ones, and for whatever reason I’ve been critiquing them and slamming some and deconstructing others. Well, finally I decided it was time to start making my own. A few days later I cranked out https://youtu.be/S7mJb5Q2Rkk and loved every minute of it. Not at all on the same level as some of my peers, but I’m glad I found a new passion.

  37. What if you notice broken things in your own life that you wanted to fix, and this or these were the reasons why you notice others that resembles from what you currently experiencing? Does this helps you face or is this your calling? Or you should start fixing your own first rather than the others?

  38. My ache was to write…and still is to write. I have written a book, yet now I am lost in the sea of “What is next” and “Can I do it again” and “How do I promote” and then the negative voices slay me and I throw myself under the covers. But, I love your write Jeff! Here is my fruition of my ache http://www.leewolfeblum.com

  39. I followed a deep heart ache (and calling) to bring the gospel to those who had never heard God’s word due to living in such remote places. 10 years later and still living in a remote jungle village in the Philippines, I rejoice in all the wonderful things God has allowed me to be part of as I have followed Him. However, lately there has been a tender ache to write out the things I see around me and how they fit into our eternal life. Small moments, life with my family, stories from living amongst some precious people here in this village, all of it testimonies of God’s great grace. I ache to lift our ordinary lives up and look at them through the lens of eternity. I long for others to behold the beauty of His holiness, right here and now in all our messy, everyday glory. Here is my little blog where my heart races at the opportunity to speak out words that may make a difference and that challenge myself to live differently from this world. https://pippyinthejungle.blogspot.co.uk

    Thank you for your lovely post Jeff. I have read it and re-read it several times. Just thank you.

  40. I love the truth of this topic. Being a jack-of-all-trades for 55 years leaves me with a lot of aches – I want to do everything. The question is not just what but what makes me ache the most. If I could figure that out at this time in my life, I’d be able to center myself on the most important question I have….excellent article – we all need to follow our bliss.

  41. I want to travel so much. I want to see all the different plants that only grow in certain climates, and see and hear different accents and learn different languages. Get to know different people. I want to play with animals. That is how one part of me aches. The other part of me aches whenever I see or hear about pro wrestling. The colors, the lights, the pyrotechnics, the costumes, the sound of the crowd. My eyes tear up and I want to go back. I just want to go back.

    Music is another trigger, family is another. I ache, wishing I had the ache for how to have a family of my own, but my heart feels too hardened and that is a sad ache there– wishing my heart wasn’t hard.

    bless all of you people!!!

  42. There is a clear ache in me when I read about a new novel being published by an unknown author and it is receiving rave reviews for subject, language and style. Yes, writing a novel is clearly my calling. I am working on it but also frustrated with the slow pace of progress. Meanwhile, I keep my writing muscles in good condition by writing other stuff, one of which is humorous pieces on my blog at http://www.jestyarns.com

  43. Thank you for this post Jeff and for your book The Art of Work which I’ve just read. I’m an artist, was born with my talent. I’ve worked in advertising for the last 10 years but have always felt unfulfilled. I feel an ache whenever I see creativity expressed in paper art so I’ve been teaching myself how to craft with paper over the last few years. I started blogging about my paper craft projects on my blog http://www.thoughtspaperscissors.wordpress.com hoping I can one day change careers but my progress has been slow due to crazy work deadlines or me just procrastinating.

  44. My ache is when I see others share their story and I kid myself that I don’t have the time to write. My dream has always been to write and write some more, to tell my story and to help others with my writing. Thanks to your blog and your inspirational words ,I started my own blog on life and happiness https://lifeofvid.com

  45. I ache every time I hear about someone following their dream and making a success of it. Every time I see someone quitting their full time job to do what they love! I’ve slowly started to convert my hobby (creating and crochet) into a small part time business (www.facebook.com/prickmeprops) and dream of the day where I can become successful in doing just that. Jeff, a friend referred me to your blog and I love reading your inspiring stories! Keep up the good work.

  46. I think about this very often, really interesting article. I still have my day job but I’ve spent years either being an entrepreneur or mentoring entrepreneurs and I think I have a sense for my purpose – “helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses by getting more customers”. I’m someone who is never incredibly passionate about one particular business but more about the game of business, particularly around customer acquisition and revenue and profit growth. I easily get distracted on one business and move on to the next “shiny object” or helping other entrepreneurs.

    Right now my current venture aligned with this purpose is helping freelance writers grow their businesses and income through a service I started – https://www.writerinbox.com

  47. My ache is whenever I see another author reach the bestseller’s list and see the previews to the movie that was created, based on their books. 14 years ago I wrote the first draft of my fantasy/adventure books series. Now I’m dragging them out of the dust and getting serious about them. It’s time to make my childhood dreams a reality. http://www.thefivewarriors.com

  48. Jeff,

    I am not sure how I stumbled upon your bog but suffice to say, I think it was divine Intervention. I really appreciate you encouraging emails and thoughtful push to do what we love. I am working on doing that recently and believe me it is hard to have faith when it doesn’t come easily or profitably. But my heart is happy and that is a true blessing.


  49. This post cemented something that has been coalescing in me as I look at the needs I respond to in the world. I hate to see people struggling to find answers in their life. It shows up in lots of ways – questions about how to raise kids, or save a marriage, or overcome depression, but the root problem is a lack of solid ground on which to build our lives. I’ve been trying to mentor folks and answer their questions, but after reading your post, I had the ah ha! moment and started looking for the common issue behind all those questions. What caused the “ache” in me? I realized I want to to show people a firm foundation they can stand on in the midst of any trial -teaching them to fish, so to speak, rather than providing the fish they need in the moment.

  50. My ache is every time I hear a blogger in any of the podcasts I listen to quit their jobs to go blogging fulltime because that’s my dream and hearing someone achieve this milestone just make me want to push more because the ache gets multiplied. I’ve been blogging for a year now and so far I’m still in the process of building an audience but I know that my dream will become a reality soon because I never stop to educate myself and do everything for my blog when I get home from work. Everyday is a learning experience and you’re one of the people I am most thankful to Jeff because your blog and the information you share gives me the inspiration to continue to push forward. You can check out my blog at https://lifeshowyouliveit.com. I know this is too much to ask but if you can perhaps give me some tips or critique my blog, I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks for the opportunity to promote Jeff.

  51. This is so good, Jeff. It resonates with me on multiple levels and provides clarity to the very thing I’ve been aching about since I was a young teenager. Taking that R-I-S-K to go after what’s in my heart is on deck right now. I appreciate you!

  52. My ache is that too many people are wasting their lives passively watching others live their own. That’s why I’ve been blogging for a while about encouraging leaders to pursue their callings and live intentionally at TrailReflections.com. I’ve also started leading a men’s small group through a series called The Great Adventure to help them discover their callings.

    In addition, my wife and I struggled financially when she developed a health condition and couldn’t work full-time anymore. So, I also write a blog called MysteryShopCoach.com to help other people generate additional income.

  53. My ache was to be heard. As a girl with Asperger’s in the ’80s, I had a hard time being understood. I now write funny kids’ books that empower unheard kids. https://amzn.to/1c4UjKv

    I have also begun to use my strong sense of justice (a gift I attribute to my mild autism) to fight for a better world through activism & humanitarianism.

  54. I don’t quite completely understand my ache because I seem to have more than one, and life gives us boundaries and disappointments which prevent us sometimes from doing the thing we ache for. Despite that, this post is very helpful in giving direction and discernment. Thank you for writing this post and your new book, which I am enjoying.

  55. I have recently discovered I have two aches. Most importantly I have an ache to help people. I recently started a youth cafe for young people who are out of a job. My vision is to create a support system, in the best sense of the word. Jeff, your story about aches is a a very positive one that I’d like to share on my facebook event page of the youth cafe if that’s alright with you? It is a Dutch page, so I wont send you the link;) Maybe it can help other people as well to get a different perspective and outlook on things. Thank you!

  56. Actually I feel that ache whenever I hear a band playing, an actor performing, a dancer dancing, so whatever is tied to creativity is causing this ache in me. Interesting, which of those is my calling? I’ve recently started blogging, so this should cover some part of this need to be creative 🙂 -> https://aiflai.com

  57. I feel this ache every time that I hear a wonderfully crafted song and a fantastic live show. Every. Single. Time.

  58. My ache was (and is) so intense that I started a non-profit with the help of friends to address the needs that kept me awake at night. I ache for each abandoned baby and child in East Africa who is full of potential but alone and at risk due to poverty, disease and violence. I ache to take each one into loving arms and to raise him or her in their own country, providing them with 3 nutritious meals a day, excellent education, a family setting and health care.

    The result of this ache? Kulea Childcare Villages. I invite each reader to visit our website at kuleavillages.org and follow us on FB. High social media interaction helps us in many ways, but mostly helps us spread our message to others who want to help orphans. In addition to our work with children, we take volunteers to Tanzania to serve with us. The ache is still there, but I feel better knowing I am doing something. We can’t do everything, but for each life that we save, for THAT child – it’s everything!

  59. My ache, like many others here, is to write, to communicate. When I’m doing other things, I’m thinking about writing. Like Jeff says in his Writers Manifesto, I feel I can’t NOT write.

    I like encouraging others, passing along anything I’ve learned, and writing creatively. Thanks to finding the writing of Jeff Goins and others like Michael Hyatt, I finally pushed myself to take the next step by creating an outlet where I could write, share, and keep myself accountable to keep writing. I do that at http://www.washburnwriter.com (unfortunately my name was taken). It’s only 5 weeks old, but I’m already writing more than I ever have, digging up things I’ve always wanted to write about, and finding inspiration all around. I love communities like Jeff’s where I can find other artists here as well and get to see some of what they’re passionate about.

  60. I wouldn’t say I ache, as such. I’ve got used to other people treading on my toes and achieving what I want to achieve. I’m an old bird and I’ve let that go. Now I seek those moments where I swell with pride when someone really connects on an emotional level with something I’ve written. As a someone who suffers with anxiety, I want to write things that help those struggle with the same issues that I struggle with. I want them to not feel alone. I want them to know that someone else is out there who has that problem too and who hopes she can give them encouragement and ideas on dealing with these difficulties. I’m 25 years deep with this stuff, this year and have lost and in despair over anxiety in the past. I think I know about it, as much as the next body. Here’s my latest post on the subject. https://leoniemsmith.com/2015/03/23/anxiety-and-waiting-rooms-dont-mix/

    1. I understand. There come a point in your life where you can’t let the “ache” define your direction. My passion is singing, but I’m not in any position to be able to do that. I love to play guitar, but I have nerve damage in my hands and arthritis. I have to use my hands to do life, so something has to give … If God wanted me to play, He would heal me, He has that power. He hasn’t so far so it’s not going to happen. (and yes I’ve seen doctors…).

      I think the most powerful thing you can teach a child from a young age is it’s okay to have your dreams, but it’s totally OK if none of them ever come to pass. Teaching them to hold on to them for dear life and follow that “ache” could very well lead them to a life where they can’t see past the pain of not being able to do their dream and unable to focus on what they do have in their life. I know this personally. It utterly wrecks me not being able to play or sing. It’s my biggest passion and I feel as free as a bird when I was allowed to do it (in my way, without limitations). But there is a reality bigger than our “aches”. It’s called real life.

  61. My ache occurs when I see writers & authors create impact in others through their soul level writing. Thank you for everything you are doing Jeff, really, you did spark some light in me to start shipping. To your endless glory!

  62. My ache is witnessing the simplicity of children. Of envisioning what and who they will be in the future. I love kids and pray for the chance to work with them in the future. My path isn’t clear yet, but I trust that my ache will lead to those open doors. Thanks sir.

  63. I ache for hurting young women who don’t know where to turn or how to find hope and relief.

  64. Yes, yes, yes. I love the description of this resonance with our unique and individual callings – the ache. It is very interesting that the ache can be specific to a person and to the vocation that they feel is calling them, like the ex-musician that hurts when he or she sees live bands plays, for them, it’s the live show, for others, it’s reading a new book or watching a film.

    The ache that lurches in me is to create deep community for secularists. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a church planter, but I eventually lost my faith. What didn’t go away was the desire to spend my life reading, writing, thinking, and helping a group of people to live deeply and passionately. The secular community lacks what our faith-believing friends have: community. My ache is to be a catalyst for a movement that brings secular people like myself into intentional community and life-change.

    I am in the process of doing this over at http://www.thethickdarkness.com. Jeff, thank you for what you do. In the short time that I’ve discovered your work, it has impacted my life in very profound ways.

  65. I ache when I hear other people’s travel stories and see the pictures. I ache when I see other people’s awesome drawings, paintings … especially the watercolor and color pencils work … not much excitement with oil or acrylic which is kind of weird considered I started with acrylic. And I ache every time I read an article that I can relate to … wishing I could write just like that, too. At the moment, I have an idea that these things are calling to me … just not sure how to put them together just yet. That’s why when you asked (on FB) Yes or No who knows what their calling is … I said not yet 🙂

  66. I wish I was doing something more day to day creative and musical. But then I worry I would have pack up again or take pay cuts…
    I also want to experience outdoors more and see world. Perhaps live somewhere else. I get tied down with worry of animals crazy as it sounds.
    Perhaps the biggest challenge is realising we are all free. I have a paradox in my head that being settled means being tied down..perhaps these are things you heal first

  67. What a wonderful perspective! The question, “What wrecks you?” was like an arrow to my heart. I’ve been working on a book for 4 years now – God called me to write my story. He also added another big task to my plate halfway through – homeschooling my daughter for high school and tutoring her class. I have recently realized that just sitting down for a few minutes to an hour every day to write more, or tweak what’s been done, leaves me feeling like I’m making progress to complete it. When I let the to do’s in life weigh me down though, I feel wrecked. That’s where this post found me today, buried under a pile of necessary to do’s. It wrecks me when writing isn’t the main thing.

  68. I have a passion for nutrition and recently started a blog. I want to help people live healthier, happier lives. I long to do more with my blog but my perfectionism holds me back. Any advice on how to get over the feeling that your posts aren’t good enough? Thanks! http://www.indulgehealthy.com

    1. Each baby step is growing you! I’m just starting a blog also (All through the power of God!) and I know what you mean…however, just think…imperfect progress. That’s it! Keep doing what you’re doing and God will honor that 🙂 As someone who is also passionate about health, thank you for being bold and sharing your knowledge. People want that kind of guidance!

  69. I hope someone reads this and responds. I have been depressed I left my dead end job, and I have done nothing but pray and agonize. I had an extremely discouraging and rough childhood. I have attempted college on several occasions but failed out. I am almost close to my associates degree I will graduate in Spring and start in the fall. I have a talent in writing, and I decided I would minor in business administration (job security). I remember a professor telling me I could easily become a writer, and I enjoyed writing loved it.. but it never ached me. I have been thinking about school non stop. Last night it popped in my head, randomly, a dream I wanted so badly but gave up on. It’s going to sound crazy… but I wanted to be a Doctor at one point. Never in my life have I felt this, but I could not shake it. I was up ALL night LONG shaking aching crying over and over again. Scared sh*tless reading blog after blog about accomplishing dreams. Visiting student Doctor forums of Doctors who were once in my same position, single mother bad start with college ect.. but are now Doctors. I know all the sacrifices and hard work that has to go into it and what it will take for me. I am so afraid of failure. I am so worried that pursing it will fall flat. But I am still buzzing. I am no longer depressed.. I am still crying about it periodically like it is some dream I pushed into my subconsciousness that I was supposed to pursue. I’m 29. My stomach is sick I’m excited but, like I said, SEVERELY scared. So scared I’m not sure if it’s just some fantasy or if it’s my true calling I am allowing myself to truly pursue and recognize. Has anyone experienced this? Some encouragement would be so appreciated. I am restless… I can’t even describe the emotions… I have never felt this before in my life. It’s almost like I am high and it is a mix of complicated feelings I can’t even process or describe. Is this what it feels like? To find it?

  70. As a mom of young children, I work with children as a full-time job outside the home. While I love all of ‘my’ kids, my ache is to be mom full time at home. While I have a desire to do other things (writing, creating…), only one thing has really caused me so much despair and longing, and that is to be what my children and my husband needs most. Great post, thought-provoking.

  71. To be an actor. I don’t just love actors, I adore them. I am 25 years old, and I have been in love with movies and film since I was a child. I remember renting a movie at blockbuster or on demand and I would just sit, and rewatch it over and over because I noticed I would see something different that I had missed previously. When I watch a trailer to a film, it evokes an emotion inside me that nearly brings me to tears because, while I enjoy what I do, I feel like I was meant for film and for people to see me. On weekends I don’t care about going out drinking, I would rather go see a movie and leave there with something meaningful.. instead of a hangover.

  72. I just googled this topic, because I’ve been uneasy for so long, working in a bank and watching other makeup artists and designers grow in their work. So I finally quit my job just yesterday to follow my dreams. But woke up this morning with a horrible feeling of loss- not knowing what to do next. Though I’ve been offering these services for a while, I need to redesign myself and set up a business plan. I need so much encouragement, cos I’ve worked for 10years and the last four years in the same place with the same routine. I’ve just broken my routine and feel like something is missing, yet I know I could never be happy in that life, till I do what I love most. This post has been helpful in reminding me of my ache and why I had been wanting to quit all along. From now on, I’ll start a new page on a new book.

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