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!