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Follow your spark, not that hollow feeling in your chest

© 2010 Avocationist · February 4th, 2010 · 11 Comments

Photos: (c) Allan Bacon (left) and by fazen (right)

For most of my career, I was busy with work and the little remaining time was dedicated to my family. While this arrangement made me feel like I was taking care of everything, over time it left me feeling hollow.

Somehow I knew that the empty feeling was from not doing the things in life I was born to do.

When the pace would slow down a bit I would think up big plans for how I could fix my work or my life to fill that gap. But none of these dreams were practical – and deep down I didn’t believe that they would really fix things anyway.

Then one Saturday afternoon about ten years ago, I had a realization: I had been getting little signals all along about how to find what I was made to do. I just needed to follow my spark.

It happened when I took this photo of my daughter.

The little teardrop under Meg’s left eye took my breath away. I didn’t know why, but luckily I decided to do more photography.

I've since realized that it wasn’t because I was meant to only do photography.

But the photography tapped into the spark in me. It was the start of a great journey.

Following the photography led to amazing growth in my life. I met new friends. I took some beautiful photos of my daughters. I learned a lot about myself. Through more than a few ups and downs, photography taught me how to learn new things without going to school and without having to stop working or being a good dad and husband.

Through these and other paths, seeds were planted that helped shape what I get to do now: At a photography school in the mountains of North Carolina I shared a room with 70-year old Bob and learned how he managed a sane career at GE. In a photography group I learned about Photoshop but also met the blogger who inspired Avocationist.com.

You are not meant to feel like you are missing something inside.

When you start paying attention to your spark, that hollow ache will go away immediately. In its place will be energy and hope. And they lead to inspiration and ideas.

Here are some places to pay attention: What makes your heart beat faster? What stores always grab your eye? Whom do you admire?

Follow those impulses and find your spark.

Tags: Career Advice · Creative Jobs · Meaningful Work · Personal Growth

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Avocationist // Feb 5, 2010 at 8:21 am

    What's your spark? share your experiences...

  • 2 Rachel Z. Cornell // Feb 5, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    That picture of your lil Meg is so sweet.

    Oh, I like thinking about stores that grab my eyes as a spark.
    -Thrift stores
    -Estate Sales
    -Outdoor markets
    -Museum shops
    -Art supply stores
    -Book stores
    To name a few....

    Great questions, great post.

  • 3 Avocationist // Feb 5, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    @rachel - great examples. I always get drawn to paper stores. I've got stacks of it at home - need to follow that one a bit more...

  • 4 Wyman // Feb 7, 2010 at 12:16 am

    I am 72. When I retired I persued massage and worked jigsaw puzzles. I had been in sales, not very successful, and by chance read Cold Calling is a Waste of Time. That sparked my interest in Internet Marketing and helping owners of offline businesses increase their profits. Five years later I am starting an online business, writing a book and having a blast.

  • 5 Keith // Feb 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    This is true - something I have known about for years, and still try to follow today. There is a name for that little spark - the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost testifies of ALL truth, including truths about ourselves that are real but which we may not recognize (yet). All mankind are capable of hearing the Holy Ghost, and the more we listen, the better we get at hearing.

  • 6 Avocationist // Feb 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    @wyman - inspiring to hear about your new adventures.

    @keith - thanks for that perspective. the listening is what is so hard.

    I got an email from a friend today - she suggested another question you can ask yourself: "Who and I jealous of and why?"

    What do you think?

  • 7 Mazarine // Feb 13, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    i am totally jealous of that artist who lives in Hawaii and has her art collected by famous people. Hmmmmm.

    Stores that I am always drawn to: Art stores, book stores.

    I admire people who stand up for what they believe in. Honest people. Seth Godin is pretty awesome. So, too, is JK Rowling. Wouldn't mind being either one of them for a day!

  • 8 Bruce // May 19, 2010 at 8:37 am

    That picture of your lil Meg is so sweet.

    Oh, I like thinking about stores that grab my eyes as a spark.
    -Thrift stores
    -Estate Sales
    -Outdoor markets
    -Museum shops
    -Art supply stores
    -Book stores
    To name a few....

    Great questions, great post.

  • 9 Jason Murphy // Oct 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    My spark comes from meeting other people. I am genuinely interested in people's stories and enjoy providing an ear to listen.

    I've spent hours speaking to strangers, acquaintances and strangers all because I am simply interested in their story or the delivery of their story.

    Maybe I should look into documentary?

  • 10 Avocationist // Oct 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    @Jason - sounds great. That's actually why I started Avocationist.com - to give me an excuse to talk to new people and to share what I'm learning.

    Grab your cell phone and do a quick interview and post to YouTube - the world needs more curious people!

    - Allan

  • 11 shayla // Jun 29, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Cupcake and pastry shops. I rarely buy, but admire how beautiful they are. I am interested in making healthy versions of these little shiny poisonous treats!

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