Alan Cohen, an author and a psychotherapist, asks in his lectures: “who is dissatisfied with their work?” Seventy-five percent of the audience raise their hands.
Cohen has created a twelve step system to help people rediscover their “purpose”. Here are the steps – without interpretation. I think this is an extremely interesting place to start a practice of deeper self understanding and discovery.
1. Tell yourself the truth
Draw two columns on a sheet of paper and in the left column write down what you would love to do. Then write down on the other side everything you’re doing without any enthusiasm. Write as if nobody were ever going to read what is there, don’t censure or judge your answers.
2. Start slowly, but start
Call your travel agent, look for something that fits your budget; go and see the movie that you’ve been putting off; buy the book that you’ve been wanting to buy. Be generous to yourself and you’ll see that even these small steps will make you feel more alive.
3. Stop slowly, but stop
Some things use up all your energy. Do you really need to go that committee meeting? Do you need to help those who do not want to be helped? Does your boss have the right to demand that in addition to your work you have to go to all the same parties that he goes to? When you stop doing what you’re not interested in doing, you’ll realize that you were making more demands of yourself than others were really asking.
4. Discover your small talents
What do your friends tell you that you do well? What do you do with relish, even if it’s not perfectly well done? These small talents are hidden messages of your large occult talents.
5. Begin to choose
If something gives you pleasure, don’t hesitate. If you’re in doubt, close your eyes, imagine that you’ve made decision A and see all that it will bring you. Now do the same with decision B. The decision that makes you feel more connected to life is the right one – even if it’s not the easiest to make.
6. Don’t base your decisions on financial gain
The gain will come if you really do it with enthusiasm. The same vase, made by a potter who loves what he does and by a man who hates his job, has a soul. It will be quickly sold (in the first case) or will stay on the shelves (in the second case).
7. Follow your intuition
The most interesting work is the one where you allow yourself to be creative. Einstein said: “I did not reach my understanding of the Universe using just mathematics.” Descartes, the father of logic, developed his method based on a dream he had.
8. Don’t be afraid to change your mind
If you put a decision aside and this bothers you, think again about what you chose. Don’t struggle against what gives you pleasure.
9. Learn how to rest
One day a week without thinking about work lets the subconscious help you, and many problems (but not all) are solved without any help from reason.
10. Let things show you a happier path
If you are struggling too much for something, without any results appearing, be more flexible and follow the paths that life offers. This does not mean giving up the struggle, growing lazy or leaving things in the hands of others – it means understanding that work with love brings us strength, never despair.
11. Read the signs
This is an individual language joined to intuition that appears at the right moments. Even if the signs point in the opposite direction from what you planned, follow them. Sometimes you can go wrong, but this is the best way to learn this new language.
12. Finally, take risks!
The men who have changed the world set out on their paths through an act of faith. Believe in the force of your dreams.