Lessons from a Life: Commitment

commitmentLesson #12: Do Remarkable Work

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”


Commitment synthesizes the eleven previous lessons, so you can make concrete plans for doing your life’s work. As you approach your best future, it is important to continue to perform as well as you can in your current job. This will build your self-esteem and help you gather energy for any of the transitions ahead. Remarkable work is economically and emotionally sustainable, overtime but my experience of having a calling and following it, proves this path is not always easy.

You will be asked to overcome  obstacles, make sacrifices and, at times, experience failure. Commitment to a new purpose means following your heart, even when you don’t feel like it. Brace yourself.

Over the years since, I started my business to help people have work they love I have experienced failed business partnerships, financial hardships and strained personal relationships as a result from decisions I have made to stick to my purpose. There have been many days when I thought that it was too hard and I should go back to a more conventional career but on my journey, so far, the rewards far outweigh the challenges. The most significant benefit is the sense of peace I have found from finding and mastering “my thing”.  In addition, I have the privilege of actually doing what I most love with people I care about deeply, everyday.

You have to be ready to make the commitments that will make your dreams a reality. You may not have a clear vision – just a sure knowledge that something has to change! The important thing is that you take a first step to get from where you are, now,  to where you want to be! It’s common to feel excitement, confusion, hope or frustration – maybe even a combination of them all – depending on where you are in your search. But it is important no matter what you are feeling to continue to be committed to the process and take actions aligned with finding and following your calling. Knowing what you are called to do and not taking actions to pursue it can be painful. Commitment is where the rubber meets the road.

As you begin to put these principle of commitment and practice of doing remarkable work into action, you will make choices about career based on a deeper purpose. This series of choices will sculpt your future. Some of these decisions will seem small – like what projects you volunteer for at work and others will seem bigger – like what masters degree program to apply to. Each choice will bring you in contact with new people and new challenges.

Some of these decisions will seem easy and others will be more difficult. I believe you cannot make a bad decision, if you make it from a good place and do your best to be aware of your personal purpose. Make these choices from a place of calm. If you are feeling desperate, agitated or unsure, you are probably not ready to make an informed decision about your remarkable work path.

Laurel Donnellan

Founder and CEO, Bright Livelihoods





Lessons from a Life: Vision

20110605Lesson #11: See Soul Work

Soul work is where your passions and purpose collide, creating work that abounds with meaning and fulfillment. A vision is a mental image of the future. While clarifying your soul work, this vision will come in and out of focus. This is a normal part of the process.

Some of you may feel that you have too many ideas for your future. If this is the case, you will need to try one or more on for size. If one doesn’t fit, you have learned something valuable, and can try something else. If you like multitasking, you will not need to choose just one of them. You may be able to piece together several paths to form a career. These portfolio careers can be developed simultaneously, or one-by-one in an overlapping series.
If you can develop skills to envision your future more clearly, you are more likely to achieve your goals.

For over 50 years sports coaches and psychologists have used the power of visualization to enhance the performance of athletes. For example, most Olympic medal winners have repeatedly envisioned themselves on the podium for years before they actually receive their awards.

This idea has been around a long time. Many cultures incorporate rituals or rites of passage to help clarify a vision: Australian Aborigines have walkabouts, while some African tribes have dream ceremonies, and many Native American tribes practice Vision Quests. Members of these cultures gain a strong sense of self and community with these practices.

I am privileged to belong to a community that practices traditional Native American ceremonies including Vision Quests. Vision Quest is an ancient practice that allows you to fully concentrate on your purpose in life. This ceremony has been handed down for generations and calls out to a few. My participation in this process is the foundation of why I do what I do. What I gained was the insight that my role is to turn this ancient experience into something more accessible for the modern world.

Here are some lessons I learned from this experience:

✦ It may take a long time to attain clarity, but it is worth the wait.
✦ When you are on a quest for direction, strive to ask for more help than you think you need.
✦ Your goals can be related to relationships, family, health, work, spiritual growth, volunteering or your career.
✦ Your plans for your future can range from the very simple and focused to the exceedingly complex.
✦ Be patient. It may take longer to manifest a plan than you imagine.
✦ The most important thing about your vision is that it resonates with you.
✦ Your vision must be aligned with your values, which is a dynamic process.

Since your plans will evolve, it is important to not hold on to them too tightly. In reality, you’ll be adjusting your vision with your family, co-workers, and market over time. When I started in this field, I had no intention of working with young people, but that all changed with the forty fourteen-year-old students who were part of a pilot project for a new high school in Brooklyn.

In addition to growing programs for adults, I have pledged the next ten years (or more) to introduce a similar teen-friendly online platform called Dream First which will support students, parents and visionary educators. The most important resource this country has is its children and these bright lights seem to be dimming during high school. Our national graduation rate is hovering at 70% while cities like LA and New York weigh in at an embarrassing 48% and 45%. Detroit has the lowest rate in America – only 25% graduate from high school there. This is a complex problem and it will take much time and effort to reverse the trends.

I have a plan to increase on-time graduation rates. If adults asked every student, each semester of his or her high school education the question: What’s your dream? and not only listened to the answer without judgment, but truly encouraged that child to go after it, many great things would happen. I have spent years perfecting this process for people who, earlier in life, were not given encouragement or were ridiculed for their dreams. Dream First’s goal is to make discussing dreams cool and help young people create a career that is fueled with vision and purpose, instead of focusing on just “having a job.”

This vision has taken many years to hone and develop but I am excited to be focusing in on it with my partner, Kelly Dwyer and our platform will launch in 2015.

Ask yourself these questions to begin your journey to a clearer vision for your next career chapter:

1. What three things do you want to be different, in your career, one year from now?

2. What does your ideal workplace look like? (be very specific)

3. What is your dream job or business?

If these questions stump you, you may want to check out our resources and program  at: http://brightlivelihoods.com.

Laurel Donnellan

Founder and CEO, Bright Livelihoods