Prologue to "Five easy ways to discover what you are meant to do with your life"

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Josh_132 Barbara Walters Price took the bait and answered the 5 questions that I posed in my recent post Five easy ways to discover what you are meant to do with your life.  Given the title of her post, Still don’t know what I was meant to do with my life, it is clear the questions themselves are not the magic bullet to self-discovery.  But it would have made the title less catchy if it had been "5 things to start to think about as you begin a life-long journey of getting to know yourself so that your work lines up with your purpose to be here on earth," or something equally as nebulous.  What we will do to hook readers with a catchy title!

What I liked about Barbara’s post is that she brought up the "so what?" which comes after answering the questions.  Her answers were:

What is your favorite movie?  Mine is probably "To Kill a Mockingbird" for numerous reasons.  I love the story and I can connect to the south as portrayed there. 

What are your favorite channels on television?  I find myself watching the History Channel, Nick at Night, TNN, and PBS when I get to watch TV which is not often.  My favorite types of TV shows are intelligent (well-done documentaries or docu-dramas and movies for grown-ups – not teenagers), along with mindless nostalgia which is where Nick at Night comes in.  Give me a black and white episode of the Andy Griffith show any day.

What kind of art museums are you attracted to?  I love photography exhibits where the subjects are real people.  I do enjoy painting and sculpture but photography tells a story and that appeals to me.

What kind of music do you love?  Gosh, this is almost too hard to answer.  I guess my favorites are singer-songwriters and almost anything from the late sixties (save the real psychedelic stuff).

What kind of outdoor environment makes you the most happy?  Springtime in the south.   Trees.  Meadows.  Flowers.

She says: "Those are my answers.  I’m still not sure what I’m meant to do with my life.  Maybe a documentary filmmaker?  Photographer?  Storyteller?  These questions do make you think."

The purpose of answering the questions is to get you connected with your intuitive, essential self.  The self that laughs easily and enjoys learning.  (that is why I chose to include the picture of my son Joshua laughing in this post … if that is not joy, what is?) From these answers, you can extrapolate the feelings, ideas and environment that make you happy.  Since I don’t know Barbara personally, I can only guess at some things that are important to her in her work:

  • Work that revolves around interesting and thought-provoking conversations (her interest in the History Channel and photography are clues here)
  • Truthful and honest communication (movie choice is a clue here)
  • Fun and levity when things get too heavy (Nick at Night – old shows bring her back to a simpler state)
  • Focus on human interaction.  Technology is fine, but not so much it gets in the way. (This is my guess here, but it seems like she is very connected to real people and doesn’t want to be too separated by cell phones, blackberries or email)
  • Big-picture work like strategy or planning (that is what jumped out at me from her description of her ideal natural setting – I feel she is looking at a broad expanse, not a small detail of nature)

If I were working with Barbara, I would ask her a lot more questions about her choices to get a clearer sense of the type of work and environments that stimulated her.  The most important piece of this work is simply defining situations that make you happy.  This sounds elementary, but I guarantee you it is not for many people in corporate jobs.  I taught a presentation skills class for many years to people throughout the U.S.  I always asked participants to craft a 1-minute presentation with the the topic "I am passionate about …"  You would be amazed how many puzzled looks I got!  People really struggled to answer the question, since they were so disassociated from their essential selves.

If you are really up for self-discovery, I always recommend Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck.

Thanks for sharing your story Barbara!

3 Responses to “Prologue to "Five easy ways to discover what you are meant to do with your life"”

  1. I am 58, living in a small town w/ few jobs. I had planned, after 17 years with the same company, to telecommute. The company had never had a layoff, but a month after I started, the new CEO decided to completely reorganize the company. Many programs were cut, including mine. Now my wife & I are living in a tiny town with few professional level jobs. I have been trying to tap my (now very remote) personal networks for leads, but it’s been over 4 months without a single interview or even a phone screen.

    Until this setback I had a successful and sometimes fulfilling career in high tech. Changing careers — even if I need to learn new skills — is not at all daunting. The notion of wasting time chasing down dead ends is, however, paralyzing.

    Your site was referenced in the Johnson/Spizman book. I confess that while your self discovery questions were interesting, I have no real idea how to answer them or — at this point — what I’d do with the information.

    Any ideas?



    Hi Michael!

    Sorry – I just saw this comment.

    I would get really pragmatic first, connecting with a few good headhunters in the area (or a place where you want to live) to see about getting some work that would stabilize you while you make longer term plans. It is hard to be creative while worrying about paying the bills. It would seem that with your skills, you could also do some remote consulting — i would check with larger consulting companies and see what the opportunities are.

    There is more, but I can’t cover it all in a blog comment! Feel free to join my monthly free call to brainstorm –

    Best of luck,


  2. Shavonne says:

    Dear Barbara,
    I’m afraid I’m about 2 1/2 years late for this post (lol). I came to this site because I’ve just began reading WILL WORK FROM HOME by Tory Johnson & Robyn Freedman Spizman.

    I am 29 years old and have been working in Corporate America for 8 years… almost 9 already. 2 1/2 of these years have been dedicated to training and mentoring new hires and working on various projects. After I complete a project (new products, etc) I am responsible to train our department. I no longer want to be tied to the office environment. The time and enegy I expend at work I would rather expend in my own business. The catch is, I’m not 100% sure if I want this activity to become my business. So, I’ve taken the quiz, “5 Easy Ways To Discover…”

    Here are my answers
    1. Favorite Movie– Love & Basketball: I love the fact the lead character follows her dreams & her heart. Ultimately, she plays in the WNBA like she’s always wanted AND she marries the love of her life.
    2. Favorite Channel– MYPHL 17. My two favorite shows come on this channel, My Wife & Kids & Friends. I love laugter between family & friends.
    My other favorite channel is FOX 29. I absolutely LOVE “So You Think You Can Dance.” I love watching people who never thought they’d reach their dreams overcome obstacles and do what they love to do… and succeed at doing it.
    3. Museums — Blacks & Wax, African-American Museum & the Art Museum. The first two are my favorites because it is inspiring the actually see what my ancestors have overcome. I am where I am today because of their endurance, sacrifice and trust in God. I love paintings & photographs of nature… flowers, in particular. I love colors and the beauty of nature.
    4. I love gospel music and jazz. Gospel puts everything about my life & faith into perspective. I also LOVE singing gospel… I feel happiest when I’m up there singing in the choir or leading praise and worship.
    I listen to jazz just to cool and relax my mind.
    5. My favorite scenary– I love walking the trail near my house. It has lots of trees, a creek and flowers. I also love the beach and watching the sun set. This environment also helps me put things in perspective. I also reflect on God’s power, creativity and great love toward us.

    Now, I’ve gone through all of this and I’m still not quite sure what I should do with life. However, I will continue to read Tory & Robyn’s book… and I’ll revisit your website, now that I know about it.

    Blessings to you & yours.. your son is ADORABLE.


  3. Pam –

    Boy, you’re good! You pretty much pegged me based upon my fairly broad answers. Thanks for the questions and thanks for the post and for the blog. It is a fun read and always enjoy it. And thanks for picture of your son on this post. You’re right – that’s joy personified. I’m a sucker for pictures of cute kids!

    Take care and keep up the good work,