Did you know that 99% of the world is wired for “just enough,” and work is more about survival than abundance and fulfillment? We share how you can begin to understand your approach to work so that you can find a meaningful career that is both abundant and fulfilling. In this episode continuing our series on How to Succeed without Losing Your Soul, we explore:
• The difference between a “worker” mindset and a “creator” mindset
• How to be a successful creator without fear of failure
• Discovering your passion project that lights up your soul
Welcome to CreativeMind Soul Sessions with Debra Berndt Maldonado and Dr. Rob Maldonado, founders of CreativeMind. Explore personal growth with us through Jungian psychology, Eastern spirituality, and social neuroscience in a deep but practical way. Let’s begin.
Debra Maldonado 00:25
Hello, welcome to another session of Soul Sessions with CreativeMind. I’m Debra Maldonado, I’m here with Rob Maldonado, PhD. We are continuing our series on How to Succeed Without Losing Your Soul.
Robert Maldonado 00:43
That’s the trick. How to succeed, but keep your soul.
Debra Maldonado 00:48
Not that you can lose it, just a metaphor here. Today, we’re talking about purpose, How to Live Your Purpose. It’s a big question we get a lot. What is the purpose? We’re going to talk about how people misinterpret what their purpose is and how even if you find something you love, how your ego can sabotage it. It becomes more about fulfilling the ego’s needs.
Robert Maldonado 01:19
The best way to talk about it is to tell you a little bit about our own experience, finding our purpose and living our purpose.
Debra Maldonado 01:29
Most of the world is wired to have enough. We’re conditioned from grade school on to basically learn how to be a worker. We’re not really inspired, most of us, maybe in this new generation of children, but most of us weren’t taught “You can do anything you want, you can create anything you want.” It was “Do your homework, make sure you show up on time. Then you’ll be a great worker and get a paycheck and find a steady job. That’s rewarded.” Most of us go through life, and about midlife we say “What the heck am I doing sitting in the office or doing some work?” There’s this sense of emptiness or lack of fulfillment. I think a lot of people have been experiencing that, especially with COVID and the pandemic and working from home, asking the question “Why am I commuting three hours a day for this job?”
Robert Maldonado 02:26
I always thought I was just a bad employee. But it was that I wasn’t doing my purpose. My purpose was not to be a worker or work for other people. My purpose is to fulfill my destiny in a sense, which is what we’re going to be talking about.
Debra Maldonado 02:45
You knew early on that you were a terrible worker, you weren’t conditioned?
Robert Maldonado 02:54
I knew I was a terrible worker, and that I didn’t want to be working for other people, but I wasn’t sure I could do my own thing, my purpose. Because we’re conditioned to think in terms of “get a good job, get the company or stay with a company that takes care of you, retire and get a watch or something at the end of the 50 years.” But people that have a purpose are not happy doing those things. I think most of us have a purpose. It’s simply that we don’t find a way to live it out. The statistics as far as workers go, indicate that most people are unhappy in their job. Which means they would rather be doing something else, most likely their purpose, but very few people get to actually do it.
Debra Maldonado 04:02
When we think about living our purpose, when you think about that worker mindset, you have to come from a different place because you can find something that you’re really talented at — singing, writing, even helping others, therapy, coaching. But if you have that worker mindset, it would still feel like you have a job for yourself because you’re approaching it that limited way of how is it going to fulfill my bank account. Even though you don’t want it to be because it feels dirty, contaminating it, there’s still that need “I don’t have the freedom to create what I want, I have to be practical with my money, I can only have so much doing that.” There’s an idea of the starving artist. You can’t make an extraordinary amount of money. It’s like a million to one to really make it big in anything. You just have to lower yourself to get just enough. How do we shift that?
Robert Maldonado 05:09
Let me ask you something personal, that way we can get to the good stuff. When did you realize you had found your purpose?
Debra Maldonado 05:21
I always thought my purpose was to write because since I was a kid, I’d write, I had a typewriter. None of my siblings like to write, I was a strange kid that liked to write stories. I wrote a lot of science fiction and romantic science fiction. I always thought I wanted to write but of course, everyone said “You can’t make a living doing that.” I was on this journey since when I moved to Colorado, I was 29, I said “I have to find out what my purpose is. I’m not meant to be a marketing executive, I am meant to do something meaningful.” I did a lot of soul searching, I tried a lot of different things. I realized I found my purpose when I became a coach. Because coaching helped me take my love of writing, my love of teaching, my love of personal and spiritual growth all together, my love of not having a boss and being my own boss, and challenging myself, because I knew I was a good worker, I can work efficiently, create a business that’s successful, because I can count on myself, I’m not lazy. But this idea that you felt like it just fit, I would do this even if no one paid me. A lot of people talk about “What’s your exit plan? What’s your retirement plan?” I can’t imagine doing anything else. It feels like a dream. When I started coaching, that feeling of “I can express all my different interests, all my different passions through this business, this vehicle, and feel fulfilled.” There’s no top to it, there’s no finish line, because there’s always more to grow from, it’s not something that can get routine, which I love as well. How about you?
Robert Maldonado 07:12
I always knew I wanted to study the mind. From the time I was a kid, started reading science fiction. I was very inspired by Dune, a stranger in a strange land, some of Kurt Vonnegut’s work. That showed me there’s people that have these minds, they use their imagination, which means their mind. They’re using their minds to invent themselves as writers, as artists, as thinkers. Then, of course, Jung and Herman Hesse, those people that were creating whole new ways of seeing the world. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. But early on, I thought “Who am I to do those things? These people are giants, they’re geniuses, they’re talented in some form or another.” I didn’t believe I had that, people around were telling me “You can’t do those things. Stick to the traditional way of doing things, get a job, go to school.” It took me a while to find my purpose. But when I went to college, I found my way into psychology eventually, also doubting myself. I don’t really blame people because people don’t stop you, they discourage you perhaps but they don’t stop you. You stop yourself basically. I stopped myself many times. But eventually I finally decided I’m going to get a degree in psychology and study the mind properly. Once I got my degree, I felt like now at least I have a shot at living my purpose, because the degrees don’t give you that purpose, they facilitate it in a sense, but they don’t fulfill it. You still have to do your work somehow. That was the beginning of it. Once I got my degree, I said “I have a shot at my purpose.” But once I found coaching, that was the freedom I needed to express the fullness of what is the mind and how we can work with it in a creative way. Coaching again was for me the key.
Debra Maldonado 10:17
I think a lot of people don’t realize what breadth coaching offers, such a great multitude of passions in one thing. If you like to perform, you can do stage work, design documentaries about personal development. I love to write books, even just help others, that’s the whole point. But really, grow and be in that constant conversation. For us, finding each other, because we both had a similar purpose, I think that was really what brought us together. We both love psychology and the mind. To think that this is something I don’t have to study, to memorize this stuff to do my job. It’s like I want to study this stuff, I want to share what I know, it is so much more natural, it doesn’t feel like work, which is really wonderful. When you live your purpose, it doesn’t feel like work. Of course, you have to work and you have to build a business, you have to have the structure, you have to have discipline. But the actual act of what you’re doing is coming from this other place where it’s you would do it even if you weren’t being paid.
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Robert Maldonado 12:39
Which gets us to the next question, how did you get to the point where fear didn’t stop you anymore?
Debra Maldonado 12:50
I remember when we moved to New York, and I first started shifting from being hypnotherapist and seeing people in my office and a full practice in Denver to moving to New York and starting to work virtually and really get into coaching. I was really afraid of making that transition, almost like leaving my job basically, because it became a job, I had to show up at the office. I loved the virtual work. But I wasn’t sure if I can recreate it again. I remember sitting meditating and thinking what if I fail at this? I kept like going, then Rob would leave me, I’d be out in the streets. I really let my mind just keep going in what would happen. Finally, it was like, I’d be naked in the street, who cares? If I don’t care, then no one’s going to even notice me. I’m gonna freeze to death because of the elements and I’ll die and then I’ll be a soul, I’ll be okay. I was like, there’s really nowhere to fall. I remember thinking, this beautiful light behind me of my true self, and falling, letting my ego, a part of me just falling back into the comfort of knowing that the true me has gotten me. I use a lot of visualization when I understand higher concepts, I allow myself to just fall into this beautiful nothingness and everythingness. It really made me realize there’s really nowhere to fall. You can’t fall, so why not try? Why not just go for what you want? For a lot of us, the initial fear or the initial ego’s voice will tell you how terrible it’s going to be, and we just believe it. We don’t even question it. I just kept questioning it and opening it up, moving toward it. After that everything started to to work. Clients started showing up because I faced my deepest fear. We teach this in our training, and our coaches teach to the client that you have to go toward what you’re afraid of. If you’re not afraid to fail, you have all the power of the universe within you. How about you?
Robert Maldonado 15:12
I have to admit, it is scary to be your higher self or to act out, to live your purpose. It is scary for many reasons, one of them being that most people do not understand what you’re doing. They see you as an outsider, somebody going in the wrong direction.
Debra Maldonado 15:44
You broke the rule of you gotta have a nine to five job. You know that movie, the producers were unhappy, doing the accounting and just stuck. That’s a perfect example, that visual of everyone just staying here. Why would you want to change? It makes everyone uncomfortable.
Robert Maldonado 16:10
The other reason is that you’re entering the unknown. As you find your purpose, that thing you want to do, it’s never been done before. If it’s been done before, that’s not your purpose. That’s somebody else’s purpose, you’re simply copying it. Your true purpose has never been done before. You are here to do it. That’s scary because you’re moving into unknown territory. You’re entering the unknown. The unknown is the scariest thing.
Debra Maldonado 16:49
You have to rely on yourself.
Robert Maldonado 16:53
Yes, you have to rely on your imagination. You have to be brave enough to say “This is worth doing.”
Debra Maldonado 17:04
What was that point for you where you faced the fear and did it anyway?
Robert Maldonado 17:10
I think it goes back to coaching. When I worked as a psychologist, there was always that net of I’m a psychologist, I’m working as a psychologist, I can teach, I can do clinical work, hospitals, clinics, whatever. But as a coach, you’re inventing yourself fresh, in a new way. Once I was able to apply the higher principles, the principle that the mind is the cause of your life— you have to live it, it’s not just an intellectual exercise, you have to live in that reality that your mind is the one creating that reality. It’s very scary, but once you learn to trust in that, you see that it works. It’s a universal principle. It’s like gravity. It’s there, you can’t see it but if you test it enough, you realize it’s a constant.
Debra Maldonado 18:29
That fear of failure doesn’t align with that I create in my life. Because if you’re saying you’re afraid of failure, that means you don’t trust yourself, you don’t trust in those higher principles. You’re looking for something external to come in to sooth the fear. I see a lot of people when they first start doing the work they love, they’re looking for that comfort in the external, looking for that client to sign up, looking for people to like their Instagram, looking for relatives and friends telling them “You’re doing a great job.” They’re looking for that external validation. When it’s not there, they get into fear. Even if an obstacle shows up. They forget they’re creating this. If I can create failure, I can create success, but I’m creating both. That’s the shift, when you think that the mind is the cause.
Robert Maldonado 19:25
Also the higher principle that says there is no failure. Everything you do, you can learn from. Where’s the failure if you can learn from it? It’s giving you information. The practice of non-attachment was really the key for me as well, to understand that whatever I do is going to give me more information about what’s possible and what’s not possible. Therefore, there’s no way to lose and you just keep going.
Debra Maldonado 19:54
Don’t you think when you connect with your purpose, there’s a higher power within you that wants to make it happen? It’s trusting in that you’re supposed to be doing this, this is what you’re meant to do. You’re supported, having that type of— I don’t know if it’s faith or understanding— what do you think?
Robert Maldonado 20:17
It’s more like a trust. Trusting your own ideas, your own feeling for what you’re meant to be doing. Trusting in that and saying “That is the most important thing for me.” Giving it priority, instead of prioritizing what other people think you should be doing, or what you were taught to think.
Debra Maldonado 20:44
How does someone know what their purpose is? I kind of knew but I don’t know how to explain it. We have to explain it. This feels like “Hell yes! This is it!” There’s a lot of confusion and ambiguity when we don’t know. We’re grasping for something, “That looks good, I’m just gonna copy what that person’s doing. Or this looks safe, this might be my next step.” I’ve seen a lot through the years of being a coach for 20 years now that a lot of coaches start off doing this type of work that we do, personal growth and spiritual work. Then they see all these business coaches making all this money and think “That’s what I want to do.” They lose that. I know I’ve said that before, in our earlier episode, make sure that when it’s your purpose, you would do it for free. You love it so much that if you won the lottery, you would still wake up every day and say “I have to do this, this is who I am. It’s not what I’m doing to get something, I have to do it because it’s something I need to express.”
Robert Maldonado 22:01
The first thing is that it’s not a profession. Your purpose is not a job. It’s not a profession, it’s not a certain type of industry or profession that you exert. It is the fulfillment of your heart. When you’re doing it, there’s nowhere else you feel you need to be, you’re doing what you’re here to do. In doing that, you find yourself, that is what you’re here to do. Like a tree is meant to express its shade and its branches and its beauty. Your life is the same way, it unfolds in this natural way. It’s meant to express something unique. When you find that, you trust it, you say “I’m just going to do this, I don’t care what society says, I don’t care about what my family says, I just need to do this.” Of course, it’s challenging. It’s not always the easiest thing because we’re moving against the current of the herd. As Jung says “The herd mentality is always wanting us to conform.”
Debra Maldonado 23:23
What you’re saying actually is opposite of what a lot of people believe that when you live your purpose, everything flows. When you live your purpose, you feel like you’re swimming against the current. A lot of people misinterpret that as this must not be my purpose because there’s a current coming at me and pulling me away. But it’s really the social messaging and the social structure of our society of no one’s supposed to enjoy what they do for their life. You’re supposed to work and hate your job, then retire and save up for retirement, and maybe in later years you can have fun. That’s how everything’s pretty much set up for us. It’s really about that idea that you’re doing it because it’s something you have to do.
Robert Maldonado 24:20
It’s certainly not the easy way. We recently went to Kitty Hawk, the Wright brothers. They were not doing the easy thing. For them the easy thing would be to run their bicycle shop and stay in their lane.
Debra Maldonado 24:47
It’s really amazing where they were and why they picked Kitty Hawk. They tried 400 times. How many things have you tried 400 times? I don’t even think I tried 400, maybe I did over the course of the years, trying new things. But that persistence, he saw a bird and said “We have to find a way to do what the bird does. If the bird can do it, we must have the mechanism to do this.” If you go to the museum, if you’ve ever been to Kitty Hawk, you see all the letters where they’re writing, asking for donations to keep their experiments going. They had to rely on donations, their bike shop didn’t give them the resources. What are you willing to do? How much are you willing to look like a fool and to feel rejected for your purpose? Loving it so much that nothing can stop you, even when it’s really hard you’re saying “I’m not giving up?”
Robert Maldonado 25:56
It’s that one-pointed mind, you believe it so much. It lights up your soul, which is the third question we wanted to answer. What lights up your soul? You’re willing to do anything for it. This is what I’m meant to be doing. It might put you through difficult times, but it’s always worth it. It’s the only worthwhile thing to really do, to do that purpose.
Debra Maldonado 26:38
I see the purpose not as a career. I think for all of us our purpose is to know who we really are. What lights up my soul is my own growth. There’s people I hear all the time “I’m tired, I’m exhausted from personal development.” How could you be exhausted, it’s supposed to be invigorating and inspiring. If it’s exhausting for you, you’re not doing it right, you’re doing it to fix something, you’re not doing it to go to the next level with yourself. For me, looking at my dreams, using visualization, reading higher knowledge, the Gita a million times. I read something last night, a book I read probably about 20 times, and I found something new in it. It lights me up to be like “This awareness, this is so cool to know myself and how the psyche works.” The universe works in such deeper ways. The book was called Gyana Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. It’s a wonderful book. Very timely. The idea was that we have to remember that we are one, we are the self, there’s only the self, there’s only this true nature we have. All the little problems in our life, all the work, and relationships, and children, and all the health issues we have to think about, are tiny in comparison to who we really are. If we understood who we really are, we wouldn’t be afraid anymore. My purpose, what lights me up, is understanding something in a deeper layer, and then sharing the knowledge. If I just learned it for myself, I think that would be great. But I think the piece that I really find is needed for me and my expression is to write books about it, to share and teach and help others understand something that I understood, that may help the other person not to get them to change or fix them but to share. This might help that person see things differently. Just like Swami Vivekananda shared his ideas about his interpretation of the Upanishads, he made me understand something, I want to be that to other people. Not everyone’s going to understand, but you do it anyway. You do it because that’s who you are. Not like “Everyone, you got to listen to me, this is the way.” It’s more “Let me share this idea and see what you think about it.” What lights you up?
Robert Maldonado 29:26
I think, what am I doing with my time on Earth? This life that I’m given, I could study medicine and become a great surgeon or really contributed to society in so many ways. Maybe I should run for office or help the poor, but I always come back to this idea that the best thing you can do for others is to live your purpose, to simply express who you are. What lights you up from the inside? That’s always the right answer. You don’t have to change the world like somebody else has, or do what other people have done, you simply have to go back to that idea of who am I, how can I express that in a better way? It doesn’t mean you’re going to be perfect, or you’re going to be some saint. It simply means you’re going to fulfill your purpose, your duty as this life that you’ve been given, as this individual that you’re living, that’s what you’re here to do. As long as you do that, you’re doing everything.
Debra Maldonado 30:49
You said at one time many years ago, our students love that idea — you light yourself up and then you help others light themselves up. You’re not doing it for them but as you light yourself up, you can be a catalyst for helping others light themselves up and share that light with the world. The world, more than anything, needs to remember who they are. It’s a beautiful thing. They have to reinvent themselves. I had to reinvent myself and constantly let go of who I used to be in order to keep becoming someone new. That’s a pretty hard concept for people because they think “This is who I am, this is my purpose in this life”, they hang on to their identity. I think a big part of living your purpose is letting go of that ego identity, letting go of that persona, letting that drive and deeper wisdom within you act through you. It’s less arrogant, less attached, but more expression and moving through, like a movement.
Robert Maldonado 31:58
That’s another quality of the purpose, it’s always moving to a new space, because it’s not static. It’s a dynamic living thing. Therefore, every few years you’re reinventing yourself.
Debra Maldonado 32:19
I always feel like last year I didn’t know anything, this year I know so much more, and I look forward to next year. But that idea that you should never be exhausted with understanding yourself because it’s like a mandala. There’s so many fragments of ourselves that we need to reclaim and understand how things work in a much deeper indirect way. This was a great conversation, I really enjoyed asking you these questions as well. I hope this has inspired you to start asking yourself these questions. What lights you up? What would you do if money wasn’t an object? Are you trying to live a purpose that’s a mimic of someone else? Are you trying to really carve your own way? I also believe that you can do what you love and make a living out of it too. It doesn’t mean you do it for the money but it doesn’t mean that money is absent from it.
Robert Maldonado 33:20
That’s what I did. That’s the ultimate, if your work is doing your purpose, and you’ve found success, that’s real success, because you’re doing what you love, and it is your job, essentially. Everybody wins.
Debra Maldonado 33:39
When you live your purpose, you can’t fail. We’ll see you next week for our next episode, where we’re going to talk about how to work with failure and how to use your mind to succeed in a deeper way. We are going to end our series. Have a great week. If you are watching us on YouTube, don’t forget to subscribe, push the button below, or if you are on Buzzsprout, Spotify, or iTunes, please don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss any episode of Soul Sessions. Have a great rest of your week. We’ll see you soon.
Robert Maldonado 34:14
See you next time.
Debra Maldonado 34:16
Thank you for joining us and don’t forget to subscribe to CreativeMind Soul Sessions and join us next week as we explore another deep topic where you can consciously create your life with CreativeMind Soul Session. See you next time.