Looking inside and not seeing anything

“Dan said in a podcast that you need to look inside.  I’m not sure what this means. I was told yesterday that I will not have a job in 89 days. So I have 48 days times two to find the work I love. How do I look inside and what am I looking for?”

Wow – looking inside and not seeing anything!  That’s scary.  Having a little life experience makes it much easier to see something meaningful.  Start with:

  1. Your Skills & Abilities – what is it that you do well
  2. Your Personality Traits – are you outgoing, introverted, good with ideas, etc.
  3. Your Passions – what makes you come alive, what makes your heart sing?

From these you should see a pattern emerge.  Then move through these questions:

  • What is my calling or purpose? Does it align with my passion?
  • Do I have the skills to turn this into meaningful work?
  • Can I do this with excellence and be the best?
  • Why am I so eager to do this?  What is my motive?
  • How can I create income doing this?  Passion and ability are not enough – there must be an economic model
  • When can I begin?
  • If I have a plan, what’s stopping me from starting now?

Trust me, no one is an empty container.  We all have talents, experience, passions and dreams.  I know life can sometimes make us numb to what is there or circumstances can make us think we are trapped.  But it’s never to late to start living the life you were meant to live.  Today looks like a good day to draw that line in the sand, create a plan, and do what you were born to do.


“There is no hope of success for the person who does not have a central purpose, or definite goal at which to aim.” — Napoleon Hill

Share this Post

  • I think we all have something inside but we need to learn to look for it. If we have followed the typical path in our career we are just following the crowd. By following the crown for so long we never had to look inside so we are unskilled at it.

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO
    How can I help?

  • Brian

    I was inspired to write this one day recently. It’s entirely fictitious, but designed to make a point. Dan mentioned in this post that “circumstances can make us think we are trapped.” Many times, we create those circumstances without realizing it.


    Jordan nervously walked past the guards and sat down opposite the thick glass. He shivered a bit as he placed his elbows on the hard surface. He had never set foot in a prison before and was understanding why. Hopefully, he thought to himself, this will only take about 15 minutes.

    A door on the other side of the glass opened and a dark-haired, middle-aged man with a medium build was led out by a guard. After handcuffing him to the table, the guard mumbled something to the prisoner and then stood against a wall a few feet away.

    This is akward, thought Jordan. He picked up the phone receiver. The prisoner did the same. Jordan’s mind bounced around trying to find an appropriate beginning to the conversation. It never decided on one.

    “How about hello?” said the prisoner.

    “Hi,” said Jordan. “How are things?”

    “I’m here ain’t I?” said the prisoner. “I didn’t get your name.”

    Jordan wasn’t a big fan of volunteering that information but didn’t know how to respond otherwise.

    “Jordan,” he said. “And yours?”

    “Harold. It ain’t too often I come out here and talk to a kid.”

    Jordan was slightly offended by that remark but tried not to show it. A month beyond his 25th birthday, he was starting to wonder when people would stop referring to him as a kid.

    Harold continued, “It’s usually some pastor or something filling my ear with religion. Why you here?”

    “You mean, you didn’t know I was coming?” asked Jordan. “My uncle made the appointment. He said he wanted me to talk to somebody about career decisions.”

    Harold chuckled. “They just came to my cell and said come on…and here we are. Career decisions?”

    Jordan felt even more awkward and a little embittered toward Uncle Trent. When he went to Uncle Trent a few days ago to ask for advice regarding his career direction the meeting did not go quite as well as he would have liked. After all, in this age of uncertainty Jordan hoped that a business owner as successful as Uncle Trent would help him understand how to make his job more secure.

    “I want you to do something for me,” was Uncle Trent’s response. “I want you to spend a few minutes talking to somebody else. I’ll email you the details this afternoon.”


    THURSDAY 3:00 PM

    Give them your name and tell them I sent you.”

    This was hardly the advice that Jordan was looking for. “Maybe there’s been some mistake,” said Jordan. He started to hang up the phone.

    “You as nervous as a kitty cat in a beehive,” Harold chuckled. “Why don’t you relax a little bit. It ain’t THAT bad in here.”

    Jordan put the phone back to his ear. “Sorry. I guess your family and friends who come to see you a lot learn to relax. I’ve never been in a place like this.”

    “I ain’t got no family or friends comin’ to see me,” said Harold. “Just random folk like you…except you’re the first one in a long time who ain’t tryin’ to get me to join a church or somethin’.”

    “Oh,” said Jordan. “Well…how much longer are you in here?”

    “Don’t know,” said Harold.

    “They don’t tell you?” asked Jordan.

    “They tell me but I don’t keep up with it. When they tell me to leave I find some way to stay a little longer.”

    Jordan tried to absorb that statement. “You mean, you don’t want to leave?”

    “Why should I?” asked Harold.

    “It’s a prison,” said Jordan. “Why wouldn’t you?”

    “A few months ago I stepped in a hole running around outside, sprained my ankle so bad I screamed like a rooster strung up by his tail. The infirmary gave me some pain medication and wrapped it up. Whose gonna do that for me out there? I’d have to get a job with medical.”

    Jordan was still trying to absorb this. “Ok…so you’re here only for the doctors?”

    “No that ain’t all. I been in every prison around here and this one got the most visitin’ hours of all of them. They also give you the most time outside.”

    Jordan couldn’t believe his ears. He stammered as he began his next sentence. “But you could have all the free time you wanted if you just did what you needed to do to leave.”

    The disbelief filled Harold’s face. “What would I do out there?”

    “Well, what’s your degree in?” asked Jordan.

    Harold laughed. “Waste of time.”

    “Ok, what are you good at?” Jordan asked.

    “Look, man, all I want to do is make the best of everyday. I don’t care nothin’ about enjoyin’, bein’ fulfilled, makin’ a difference, none of that. Just give me a place where they take care of me and don’t make me stay in that cell too long and I’ll be fine.”

    The guard approached Harold from behind and indicated to Jordan through the glass that time was about up.

    Searching for a way to end the awkward conversation that never really became comfortable, Jordan only found the words, “Good luck.” Harold rolled his eyes and smirked. They hung up their phone receivers.

    Jordan’s shock slowly turned to pity as he walked to his car. How can Harold live this way? It seemed as though Harold was more concerned with his own security in the prison than anything else. Even more disheartening was his statement about wanting a place in which he is taken care of and allowed some time out of his cell. There was nothing in that statement that even suggested that Harold wanted to offer anything to somebody else. His selfish nature was the only thing that stood out to Jordan.

    As Jordan drove toward the front gates, his pity began to turn inward. He began to see Uncle Trent’s wisdom in asking him to go visit Harold. In fact, he could just imagine Uncle Trent calling the prison and asking that a prisoner be made available for Jordan’s visit. Jordan’s main career goal thus far had been to find a job that offered “security” in the form of medical benefits and lots of time off and find a way to position himself so that they could not fire him.

    Jordan chuckled. “I might as well join Harold,” he said to himself. The guard took his visitor’s pass and checked his ID momentarily.

    “OK,” said the guard. “You’re free to go.”

    Jordan drove forward, leaving the confinements of prison in more ways than one.

    • Brian – great story, and oh so common. Charles Dickens wrote about a man who had been in prison for many years. Obviously this man longed for freedom from his dungeon of despair and hopelessness. Finally, the day of his liberation arrived. He was led from his gloomy cell into the bright and beautiful and free world. He momentarily gazed into the sunlight, then turned and walked back to his cell. He had become so comfortable with confinement that the thought of freedom was overwhelming. For him, the chains and darkness were a predictable security.

      For many people change is frightening. The sameness and predictability of what we have may be more comfortable than the uncertainty of change. Day after day I hear stories from clients about the feeling of being trapped in their jobs and lives. And yet, the comfort of at least knowing what is coming each day appears to be more attractive than the uncertainty of initiating change.

      • Brian

        Dan, thanks I’ll have to take a look at that story by Charles Dickens…sounds like a good one. Like Bettina below, I’m going through the growing pains of getting out of my own way and finding my true calling. You’ve been (and are) a great inspiration to me in this journey. Thanks so much! Bettina, you’ll get there…keep searching!

  • Bettina

    Wow – I think Brian wrote his story just for me! I’m 45 years old with absolutely NO idea what I want to do when I “grow up”. I’ve actually been applying for government jobs (gasp) so that I’ll have great benefits and job stability. As I read Brian’s story, all I could think about is that perhaps I’m voluntarily entering a prison of my own making. But what other options are there? I can’t think of anything that makes my heart sing.
    Isn’t uncertainty it’s own kind of prison?

  • Debi

    Well done, Brian! What we tell ourselves certainly creates our realities. Keep writing.

  • stuart

    This is me. And its broken record. Or a vicious circle. Probabably both. Obligations – responcibilites. I have never figured out how to break the cycle. I have always acepted every job I was ever offered because I needed it. Dish washer in colledge, internal auditor after colledge and appraiser after that. Twenty five years later I know why they call this a mid-life crisis. If someone offers me a J.O.B. tomarrow, I would have to think real hard about saying no, even if its something that I know won’t make me “Happy”.

  • Kevin

    This is one thing I’ve really struggled with while reading 48 Days. I’m currently working 2 full time jobs. One is doing mechanical drafting which is what my degree is in. The other is warehouse work. I absolutely despise the drafting job and am desperately trying to think of something else to do. I’ve been in my personal prison for 13 years trying to break out. I’ve bounced from company to company with having no job last more than 2 years and as short as 6 months. The drafting skillset is just one of those jobs that doesn’t translate into anything else so it seems impossible to transfer skills into something worthwhile. The warehouse job is better, but not by much. I have 3 kids under 9 years old and a stay at home wife who’s going to school. I don’t have the ability to do school due to my 72 hour, 7 days a week schedule and my wife is largely unsupportive of me starting my own business so I can gain some controll over my life. So my own business is off the table. I look internally and I don’t see anything beyond an empty shell. I do have some skills and interests, but I’m unable to see a way to make any income with them so they’re practically worthless. I’m rather introverted, but can have a conversation with someone when needed. The things I really get into are cars and trucks, baseball, eating and lawn care.