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Discover Your True Joy: 5 Ways To Find What You’re Really Chasing

Running

“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.” ~Unknown

When my last relationship ended, I found myself suddenly questioning what my goals honestly meant to me. I had focused my past five years steadily chasing a very specific dream with this woman (creating joy, art, and a community in NYC, adopting some dogs, and eventually moving back to California to start a family together).

At least that’s what we thought we were chasing.

When we realized that our lives together had become static, that we lacked engaging dynamics, and that we only rarely brought out true joy in each other, our roads abruptly veered and I found myself sans lover, best friend, and collaborator. I also was given a huge opportunity to view my life with fresh eyes.

I saw that by limiting our vision and chasing only our one shared dream, we were effectively shutting ourselves off from exactly those varied personal experiences that it would take to build our joy, inspire our art, and create that dynamic life we both desired.

We allowed ourselves to be held back from a meaningful life by chasing the goals we thought it would take to get there. We had gotten stuck in chasing the wrong things for a right reason.

I began examining what I had been busy chasing in all the aspects of my life. Chasing in my career, chasing in my suddenly newly blossomed singles life, and in the personal identity of who I was now that I wasn’t defined by this external relationship.

I realized that it was time to shake things up and experience the unexpected.

Here are some steps to discover what you are truly chasing in life. Try to answer in less than 20 seconds, with the first thing that comes to mind. You might be surprised. 

1. What makes you lose track of time?

I’ve always liked fixing things and working with my hands. Broken pieces fascinate me as my mind wraps around how they tick. I know there’s a reason if I could only find it. It’s a great puzzle, but sometimes the minuets crawl by. By chasing the outcome (to make it work) I stopped being in the present.

I discovered that I never feel rushed drawing or painting. No matter how long it takes me to choose a color, from the instant I pick up the brush to the second I put, it down feels like one fluid moment.

2. What makes you happy?

It might be sunshine, dogs, laughter, passion, collaboration, or music. I chased my career goals in the music industry by working in a studio without windows or sunlight for 10 hours a day, and while it was rewarding to help people realize their dreams and create their art, I realized I was chasing the wrong thing.

What made me happy wasn’t just making music sound better or tweaking knobs; it was helping people discover and release their albums. When I realized that I was made happy by sharing, by making art, then my goals shifted to be more people and connection focused and left me feeling more fulfilled.

3. If you didn’t have any bills to pay, what would you do?

You might sit on a private island by the beach, or maybe start a free service for the less fortunate. I personally realized that I have to create.

The idea of “free-time” scared me silly, and everything I focused on in life stems back to this deep-seated need to be creating something. Even sitting quietly was creating peace. Once I realized what my driving force was, it became much easier to make choices based on what I knew my true desire to be.

4. When you are old, what will matter the most?

You might be chasing things, people, rewards, or achievements that seem huge and important now. You’ve given your all to reach this point, so why give up now? Ask yourself how deeply will it touch people in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years. If I get a gold record, it’s a huge achievement, but I don’t want to be remembered for a plaque on a wall.

I’d like to be remembered as a warm, living, loving, heartfelt person full of optimism and enthusiasm. A gold sales award doesn’t commemorate that.

5. What are you really after?

Honestly ask yourself, what are you getting when you reach the end of this chase? I was chasing goals that I thought would help build the future for my love life, or would help advance my career—there was my “reason”—but having a more advanced career didn’t help me to connect deeply with artists. It wasn’t in tune with my true desires.

Our relationship appeared to be chasing similar goals, but in the end our chase was actually blocking us from reaching our true selves. Ask yourself if you are chasing out of habit or just for the sake of the chase; be sure you are genuinely working towards your true goals.

I’ve realized that a lot of what we focus on in life isn’t what’s in line with our true desire. Since then, I’ve cut my time commitment to work in half, and I now use that time to create art and build connections with people who also value the creative life I want to live. It has breathed new life into my actions and helped me understand the deeper reasons for my choices.

Without walking the long and often painful road, we rarely discover the true reasons why we’re chasing our dreams, even if we have those dreams well defined.

The only constant is that it never goes according to plan. Let your heart be open to the unexpected and stay flexible and free. Like a dog running after a ball when a squirrel suddenly appears, gleefully embrace the opportunity for a fresh chase and leap onto your new road with joy.

Photo by Hartwig HKD

Avatar of Tim Boyce

About Tim Boyce

Tim Boyce is a NYC based Sound Designer and Mastering Engineer, Artist, Explorer, and vivid colorist. He is the Community Manager of StudioFilter helping artists to find recording and rehearsal spaces. He strives to create meaningfully, and to help others create more fully and passionately in their medium of choice. He feels that Art can heal.

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  • http://www.selfication.com/ Patrik Edblad

    It’s important to go where our hearts are telling us, even if it’s scary. You’ve probably heard your inner GPS giving you subtle signals of where to go but quickly dismissed them because of fear. I know I have. But the best experiences and growth opportunities are almost always on the other side of fear.
    So the next time your heart is telling you to do something, instead of rationalizing why you could never pull it off or how it would take too much time, take the first small step toward it. You’ll never know what will come out of it.
    Great, actionable steps Tim. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Denise Dare

    What a beautiful and insightful reminder for us all.

    Thank you, Tim, for sharing your wisdom and asking the questions that encourage reflection.

    My fave lines: The only constant is that it never goes according to plan. Let your heart be open to the unexpected and stay flexible and free.

    Totally agree. :)

    Here’s to feelin’ free, fun & in the flow!

  • Mel

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am at a similar point in my lift where it’s time to discover my TRUE goals and thereby finding my true self.

  • Jeffrey_Willius

    Very useful post, Tim. Things many people already know at some level, but need to be reminded of.

  • Tim

    Thank you for sharing this post. I think of myself as someone who is doomed to always be searching for my purpose in life, instead of just enjoying life now. If my work doesn’t reflect my values, I don’t want to be doing it. I enjoy helping people who are in need. I’m a teacher, and I still enjoy teaching and helping the population of students that I have, but it’s not the same as when I first got started 16 years ago. I don’t have the complete passion for my work as I once did. I can’t even answer some of the questions that you listed in your post. It’s like it’s all fuzzy. I can’t even say what I like and don’t like anymore. Does that sound weird? PS Great name

  • Lee–1705

    You message is too long…not sumarise. Very hard to get what you mean. Please keep it short.
    You are an asset to our lovely earth.

    ♡FromLovingAngels♡“

  • Andrew Golightly

    I’m fuzzy in my head.. at the moment actually. For me it’s because I have many things I want to pursue and don’t know how to start. But I keep doing bits towards what I do want as far my fuzzy mind shows me and keep on moving on.

    I’ve noticed in my life that my life is awesome.. and really I just need to enjoy life now instead of trying to work out my purpose.

    because as Tim said, life doesn’t go according to plan anyway.

    So as frustrating as it is for me to be “floating” with life, going down the path of least resistance seems to work the best for me. Because things do always work out.

  • Roland

    Thank you Tim, this was very inspirational!