When I was a teenager, it was my ambition to become a professional ballet dancer. I began lessons around the age of eight for fun and exercise and by twelve I was a serious student. My parents were very supportive, driving me to classes several times a week and allowing me to spend a summer at the National Ballet of Canada studying with top teachers. At the age of sixteen, after auditioning and gaining acceptance, they gave their blessing for me to enroll in a year round ballet boarding school in Buffalo with schoolwork sandwiched in between morning and afternoon dance classes. We lived close enough to allow me to come home on Saturdays after a two hour morning class and go back on Sunday evening. Needless to say, they invested quite a lot of money in my ambition and I invested my work and heart.

But here is where the mixed messages started. Perhaps seeing that I really was intending to make a career out of this, they began talking about how hard a life a dancer has. They acknowledged that I was good, but that good wasn’t enough in the highly competitive field of dance. A lot of people are good. You had to stand out, to shine! They told me they didn’t think I was aggressive enough--I didn’t push my way forward. They spoke of the sacrifices dancers had to make in order to get ahead. I wouldn’t be able to really have any kind of love life and I wouldn’t have much time off. They had stories of the cutthroat things dancers would do to each other to eliminate the competition. And don’t expect to make any money! They knew of dancers who had to have three roommates just to make ends meet. This barrage of all the reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t follow my dream became more and more frequent. A war began to rage within me between my desires and my fears. What my parents had to say disturbed and confused me. Why were they saying these things?

Let me take a moment here to say that my parents truly loved me and I them. It wasn’t out of spite that they began speaking like this. It was out of love and wanting to protect me. Nevertheless, it was raining hard on my parade. It never occurred to me to question if what they were saying was true. My father was a PhD. and I held his opinions in high regard. My mother had always been my confidante. The situation resolved itself by my body breaking down. I not only got arthritis in my big toe, but came down with a very severe and persistent case of mononucleosis which took me out of operation for months. I made the painful decision not to return to the ballet school and instead focus on getting into college.

I share this story, because this happens so often to people with a desire to step out and follow their passions. Well-meaning family and friends regale their loved one with all the reasons why they should stay safe within the known boundaries. It can happen at any time in life, not just to young people. The voices from without can clamor so loud that we can’t hear the voice within. We feel the pressure to be what our parents, spouses, or friends want us to be. We don’t want to let them down. We worry that they will not love us if we follow our passions. We begin to doubt our own strength, abilities and resolve. What if they are right and we fail? Better to stay safe, even if there is no real joy there.

Following your passions can involve risk, but it is also deliciously rewarding. There will be challenges, for that’s how we grow, but the solutions will be there as well. When you choose to do what brings you joy, you align with your inner purpose and the way becomes clear.

As Joseph Campbell says: “When you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.”

Getting Clear
It is important to be able to hear your own inner voice. Here are some steps to take to get clear on your life’s work and higher purpose and to have the courage to act upon your dreams, no matter what others may want for you.

1. Realize that we all have a special gift and it will be something that you love to do.

2. Give yourself the gift of spending time each day in undisturbed quiet. Ask yourself what you love to do. What would you do even if you didn’t get paid for it? What comes naturally to you? What do you enjoy spending time doing?

3. Trust that the universe is friendly to your plans and is supportive of you.

4. Send love to those well-meaning people who may not understand your vision. See them surrounded by light and radiate reassurance out to them. Use your imagination for this. It is a great gift!

5. Get comfortable and quiet. Take a few deep breaths and ask your higher self, or your soul, for help in strengthening your resolve, lighting the way and attracting your life’s work to you. Be open to how your soul might communicate with you--through books, inspired ideas, and feelings. The voice of your soul will always feel like love. Practice calling your soul to you daily.

6. Understand that your life is YOURS! No one else can live it for you. When you choose your path of joy, all else will fall into place.

Would I have made it as a dancer? Quite possibly. Was that my life’s work? It may have been for a time; but no experience is ever wasted, and everything we do contains the seeds of our highest path and purpose. All of our experiences shape who we are and I am grateful for all of mine. That experience may have happened so that I could be sitting here, loving my life as a coach, sharing this with you now.

Author's Bio: 

Known as America's Life Purpose Coach™, Estra Roell is a certified Law of Attraction Life Coach and PSYCH-K® facilitator. Her passion is in helping people gain clarity on their passions and purpose and empowering them to move into inspired action to reach their goals using a variety of powerful processes. She believes we all have what it takes to live purposefully and create the lives we want.

As a radio host on Blogtalk Radio's Coach Cafe, Estra has interviewed many inspiring thought leaders and has herself been a featured guest on radio. She is a co-author of the book, 101 Great Ways to Enhance Your Career and the creator of an online coaching program, Living on Purpose: 12 Steps to Loving Monday Morning

To receive her free report on Visioning and Goal Setting, Tuesday Success Tips and to learn more, visit http://www.AmericasLifePurposeCoach.com