Trying to find ‘your thing’? Here’s a clue: you’re probably driving everyone around you crazy with it.

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In my first year of changing from my old work into my free range life, I met up with a friend who had moved overseas and I hadn’t seen in years. Over coffee and sticky cinnamon rolls I told him what I was doing now and how much I loved it.

He looked at me and said “oh that makes so much sense for you, I can see you doing that so much more than what you used to do”. He said it like it was obvious. Yet for a long time it hadn’t felt obvious to me!

Why is it that when someone is doing what they love it looks like the clues were always there – but when we are the ones doing the looking, for ourselves (in the ‘before’), it’s like we’re fumbling in the dark?

Here’s a short cut to finding ‘your thing’ (aka your direction, what you actually want to be doing):

It’s likely to involve something you’ve been told to ‘tone down’ more than once.

For example:

The person who needs to be doing something advising/mentoring others but thinks “who am I to do that?” or “that’s too ego-y” is unlikely to be the one hiding his opinions in the corner – ask people in his life if he offers unsolicited advice about how they could make things better, and the answer is likely a big old heck yes, all the time.

The person who is better at improving things than coming up with something brand new? Might be telling themselves that there’s only value in developing something new that no one else has thought of… but in reality simply can’t help finding improvements or awesomifying what’s already there. (If they are currently in the wrong work environment they may be driving their colleagues batshit crazy with this tendency).

Your biggest strength (your superpower even) doesn’t want to be caged. When your ‘thing’ doesn’t have a home, and barely has acknowledgement as anything more than an irritating weakness, it goes around like a whirlwind, untamed. Result: it might well be something you’ve been told to tone down more than once.

And of course you were told to tone it down. It was shining in garish blinding lights not because it was wrong in itself, but because you never learned how to direct your flow to find its sweet spot.

I’m not talking about a topic area or a hobby by the way, I’m talking about something deeper – the main thing you bring to the table. The theme behind that person you are when your lights are fully on, without apology. 

Bottom line: in the times you’re not officially looking for what you ‘should do’ you’re being a part of it already. Whether you are looking for that ‘big idea for what direction you should take’, or how to hone what you are already doing to be more you, odds are a clue is right there, in the moments you just can’t help doing.

Quite often a long-term search for self is rarely that: scratch the surface and it’s a search for another self, a more acceptable, shiny self, that you can call your own.

That person may end up finding that ‘other self’ in their third best strengths, so they plough on and do pretty ok, but never feel like they are thriving… and meanwhile they save their very best thing to unintentionally vomit up over friends, family, and colleagues when they aren’t watching themselves. (That right there is a great way to reinforce that your strength is really a weakness).

If you take one thing from this message? Take this:

Honour yourself.

Stop looking outside yourself for who you think you should be, and instead look at the clues of who you are when you just can’t help it. The former is the way to years of feeling not good enough (and feeling lost in the process). The latter is the seed that will thrive when you own it, and create the right environment.

A natural ‘superpower’ isn’t usually playing the piano like Mozart. It’s that little thing you can’t help doing… and it turns from a weakness to a strength when a) you do it in the right environment (ie: not unasked among family or within an organisation that truly doesn’t give a damn) and b) you step into it and own it.

Stepping into who you are is not selfish and it’s not a ‘luxury’ for when you’re in a better place: it’s the key to what you’re looking for. Because being the person you are? Will do more for the world than being a shadow of the person you think you should be.

So going back to the start, with my friend and the coffee and the sticky cinnamon rolls – he wasn’t saying “well done for a brilliant idea”. He was saying “well done for stepping into the person you’ve always been”.

If you haven’t done this yet, one day I’d like to say the same to you. Because that person, my dear, is more than worthwhile.


Marianne x

PS: and when you find that thing? Odds are at first you’ll dismiss it as not good enough. You’ll tell me it’s not worthy, too quiet (or too loud). You’ll tell me it is the only strength in the world that can’t possibly be a seed in your free range career. You’ll tell yourself it’s too ‘boring’ too ‘hubristic’ too ‘obvious’ or too something.

I’ll tell you aren’t evaluating whether or not you get to be that person or do that thing – the reality is that you will continue to do it all the darn time as you always have done. Instead, you’re deciding, here and now, whether you spend the next however long looking for who you should be… rather than turning in to what’s already there, patiently waiting to be seen.  That person has more value than you can imagine.


Trying to find your thing?

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  • Cheyne Pearson

    “being the person you are? Will do more for the world than being a shadow of the person you think you should be.” Right in the profundity!

  • Cecile Pauty

    hi marianne, great post! i’ve heard this a number of times before (including from you) but it’s taken me about 2 years to actually understand what it means for me. I think I finally do now… thank you!

  • thomas2

    Your insights are amazing. I know that you know what you know because you are living
    your life from the inside out. Thank you for pointing us in the right direction.

  • “Why is it that when someone is doing what they love it looks like the clues were always there.” Great insight Marianne. It took me until the age of 43 to start the work that I love. I left a successful private practice as a chiropractor and took my posture tips online and have never looked back. The clues really were, always there!

    As a child my greatest loves were climbing trees, swimming in the river; building go carts …always moving my body. So being in natural health made sense AND as a child I also always went to garage sales (loved to discover things and work the business of negotiating), had my first business age 9 selling used golf balls, set up lemonade stands etc. So I was a natural entrepreneur and this passion hadn’t been realized.

    So I finally combined my innate passions/loves for natural health and entrepreneurship age 43 (yes with the kickstart being your 21 day program) and created Posture Videos and I LOVE MY WORK … how do I know this? I’m as happy to work on a Sunday as I am a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and I no longer long for the weekends. I come and go as I please and create my days around what I love (physical activity and entrepreneurship). It is absolutely magical to finally do the work that I love. Go for it! The first step is the hardest, then you’ll never ever look back!

  • “well done for a brilliant idea” vs “well done for stepping into the person you’ve always been”. I guess this defines the difference between an entrepreneur and a free ranger. I am in my first year of going free range. The brilliant ideas don’t come up but every day I notice steps into the person I am 🙂 I don’t think I am driving the people around me crazy (any more), but I can see how it’s the cage that is driving them crazy. Thanks for this motivation Marianne!

  • Shawn Cookson

    I’m pretty sure I’m tapping into the right “thing” but, I find myself waiting for the stars to align. Thanks for the encouragement (push) into “the plunge” that I’m about to take.

  • Nice observation Merel!

  • Love this 🙂 You’re clearly in your right work!

  • Paul Wright

    I must need working on. I’ve worn the corporate mask for so long I’m not sure who I really am or what drives me. At work I’m a robot and at home I’m a vegetable!

  • Awesome post Marianne, I giggled more than once, whoa- how does she know me and how before I was doing ‘this’ and being paid for it I was just bugging friends, family and people I met in cafes with unsolicited advice! I do find it amazing how in the right environment and context people love what I have to offer and pay for it…but in the not quite right context I’m just someone with too many opinions and too much to say! It was only last week that I told someone that I had to create my business because I needed more space to be who I am…just like an artist who needs to create art I am the communicator/mentor/networker who needs to do all of those and couldn’t quit it even if I tried.

  • & Kilter

    ‘well done for stepping into the person you’ve always been’ – I love that line. It’s a great reminder to just let yourself breath, and give yourself room to be, well, yourself. I moved to Europe from North America a few years ago and only now am I starting to feel comfortable just being myself again. The societal rules here were so different from back home that I managed to subconsciously contort myself into my own shadow – in an effort (I think) to align myself with my surroundings. Product of culture shock maybe? Haha!

  • guest

    Where’s the actual article?

  • Jessica Reece

    Incredible article! I can’t believe how much this resonated with me. Thank you so much for sharing, Marianne. And please keep doing what you do!

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