Do you ever worry about finding your calling? Jeff Goins has some smart, comforting words for that little concern in his book The Art of Work. The book tells a bunch of stories about people who love the career they have found even though it’s not at all where they began.There is kind of a sense that your calling finds you, as long as you keep moving forward. But the very, very comforting part was when he explained the portfolio life.
A portfolio life is realizing your calling is actually not one thing. It’s not, “The thing I accomplished yesterday is the thing I was put on earth to do. And now I’m done.” Instead, we are to have a few things going all the time, a variety of projects finished in the end. The answer to the question, “What do you do?” at any given moment should have a multi-layered answer. “I’m a mom and an administrative assistant. I keep a blog, wrote a memoir, am writing a novel, and remain open to a role in the all-female remake of Oceans 11 should the casting director call.”
If that sounds busy instead of comforting, it’s just because you can’t see the other part, the part where I have cleared my agenda of non-essential to-do items in order to fill it with the things that make up my true life portfolio.
After Mr. Goins’ book, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. (A fellow blogger I occasionally read recently called Kondo’s book pretentious and not even worth finishing; apparently we differ.) I found this book inspiring and deeply true. You know when a thing just feels true? Minimalism has always felt true to me. I don’t want to have piles of laundry in my house, and having fewer clothes makes that possible. I don’t want to pick up constantly, never able to relax because there is always a room to straighten or a closet to clean out. Decreasing stuff and clutter makes those tasks go away.
Kondo’s advice is as simple as the end result. She suggests you tidy your home in one go – though the process could take up to six months – and that you do it by asking of every item in your home, “Does this spark joy?” If you accomplish this, you will have a simplified home filled with only things that make you happy. There won’t be too many, so it will be easy to find a place for each of them and keep them in their place.
I love the method because I am an emotional person. I feel my way through pretty much everything I think or believe. However, when it comes to decisions, I have spent a lifetime attempting to not let myself be led by feelings. This book gave me full-on permission that in this one area, the sanctuary of my home and all the stuff it contains, I get to make decisions based purely on how I feel about it. My emotions really love that, and they’ve earned it, for every day I didn’t let them decide I should quit the day job.
Now, here’s a fun tie-in. Kondo states in the book that very often when her clients tidy their homes, they find their calling. I’m not kidding; she said this, and the two books I read first in 2016 really did complement each other that well. The premise is, when you don’t have so many material things to clean or straighten or maintain or otherwise take care of, you have the mental space and the time to consider what you do want to take care of in life, what you love, what brings you happiness, what makes you feel useful and alive.
I’ve only finished one other book so far this year, and it was Wildflower, the memoir by Drew Barrymore. One of my random New Year suggestions for myself is to apply these words from Tom Clancy, “The only way to do everything you’d like to do is to read.” A book by a full-fledged Hollywood princess (albeit with a not very princess beginning) who is a movie actress and owns her own production company totally fit the bill. My favorite kind of reading has always been stories I actually want to live inside for a while, so I love this idea of choosing books in order to experience “everything I’d like to do.”
Tidying, the portfolio life, and pretending I’m in movies? It’s been an awesome reading year so far.