You can discover a lot of things in a bookstore, including what you really want to do with your life. I took a Book store Field Trip on my birthday a couple years ago and discovered my current career as a writing coach, so it works.
- Step one: Find a bookstore. A combination of new and used is best because when you find something that excites you, you’ll want the latest information on that subject.
- Also you’ll want a selection of magazines to compliment the book search.
- Step two: don’t do this hungry
- Step Three: spend at least two hours on this project
On your bookstore field trip day –
Arrive at the book store.
Spend about 20 minutes pursuing the shelves you automatically check out. Find the latest book by your favorite author, pick it up, tuck it under your arm and get that out of your system.
Now, go look at different shelves. Wander. What is interesting?
- Do you want to touch all the mystery books on the shelf?
- Do you want to look at dictionaries and obsess about owning your own hard copy of the OED (or is that just me)?
- Are you standing in front of the gardening section and have no idea how you got here because you have NEVER paid attention to that aisle before?
- Is there such thing as Poultry husbandry?
- Did you spend an hour in the humor section?
Pull out the books that appeal to you. Don’t analysis yet, just pull them.
- Bring those books (7 to 10, go crazy) to a table.
- Deal them out like tarot cards and see if there isn’t a message right there.
- Include the favorite book you’ve been clutching under your arm (thought I forgot about that one did you?) What drew you to these books?
- Is there more than one in any subject or theme?
- What book do you want to pick up first?
- Do the books represent something you want to discover?
- Do they represent something you’ve always wanted to do or go? What excited you?
- If you can pin point what excites you, walk over to the magazine section and see if there isn’t a magazine covering the very theme you just unearthed.
You may not open a book and have an immediate epiphany, but you will probably get much closer to understanding what it is you really want to do, or spend your time thinking about. For me, I wandered into the (tiny) section on art and creativity. I’m a terrible artist, but I’m attracted to art as a process, and art history. In that creativity section was Eric Maisel’s new book titled, Creativity. I opened the book to a chapter all about creativity coaching. You can do that? That’s a job? I was inspired and it started me on the the pursuit of working as a writing coach.
Inspiration can be as simple as planting a kitchen garden, or as complex as signing up for sailing classes. Identifying the books are the first step. Even if you can’t act on the inspiration the books provide, you can read about what you ultimately want to and learn about how to do it. The pleasure you get from reading about your dream or passion cannot be discounted or belittled.
I’ll give you an example. My father wanted to buy a boat and sail around the world. That was retirement plan A. My mother was appalled at the very idea, but since they weren’t sailing that moment, she bit her tongue. My dad bought probably 40 books on sailing and adventures on the high seas. He subscribed to boating magazines. He enjoyed the research thoroughly for years while he worked towards retirement. The books kept his dream alive.
Finally, when the dream was getting too close for comfort, my mother suggested a sailing trip through the San Juan islands with college friends who already knew how to sail. “Let’s give it a try” is how she framed it. And so they did.
Upon his return home, my dad was very sad. It turned out that much of sailing involved hours of sitting quietly on a very small boat – after only two days, he was bored out of his mind. The expense and challenge of sailing around the world did not compensate for the sheer daily drudgery that was the reality of sailing. But all that research was not wasted. He took another look at the sailing goals and realized that essence of the sailing fantasy was not sailing – it was adventure and travel. He modified the ultimate plan, and spent the next ten years operating his own travel film business. He was delighted, mom was delighted (they traveled exclusively on solid ground). He was happy doing the research, he was happy with the final results.
And you can too.
No time is wasted if what you do nurtures your dreams.
For more information go to the Your Book Starts Here site.