The pitfalls of following your heart

Since my mid-twenties, I have been on a conscious journey of following my heart. Over time, I have become increasingly more in-tune with my heart’s whispers – or shouts, or screams. More recently, I have become braver to overcome the barriers to my dreams that I alone have built. But, by no means have I yet mastered it.

ear photoIn fact, I can honestly say I am that person who is the “Jack of all trades, master of none.” As a life-long lover of education and developing my fertile mind, I know a lot about a lot of things, yet have not mastered anything. Furthermore, while my life’s quest is to get paid to do what I love, I am not always dialed into that quest because I get easily distracted, or have a fear I am not ready to deal with.

There are gazillions of experts and gurus who help people fulfill dreams and goals. I do not claim to be an expert on following the heart. I am simply a woman who is striving to live it. I believe I have not mastered it because if I did, it would no longer be my quest or lesson to learn. I certainly would not have the wisdom I have acquired (or lack of it) and ability to share that with others through my writing and speaking.

It is like the expert who teaches others to achieve the ultimate romantic relationship, yet cannot achieve it in their own personal lives. Or the financial expert who advises clients on building wealth, yet has debt up to their eyeballs. If they had all the answers, their journey or quest, or purpose in life, might be over.

Sometimes we get drastic lessons that force us to go inside for a time, then later emerge and act on what the inner voice “suggests.” I am reminded of the spectacular story of Tina Petrova, a Toronto-based motivational speaker and filmmaker, who survived a horrendous accident when her vehicle plunged off a mountain, only to later live with excruciating pain and challenges that brought her to the brink of despair. She tuned-in to her inner guidance, and today she is dedicated to helping others heal chronic pain.

Pulling from my own life experience, here are some things to seriously consider when setting out on a journey of following your heart to give you a balanced and realistic perspective.

1. You might feel confused

When you start listening to your inner guidance, your world might get turned upside-down. Your values will likely change, causing you to feel you no longer know who you are. Some refer to this as a “mid-life crisis,” but it is simply a change of values. If you change your career and had identified yourself as that person, when you change careers, you will feel like a different person. Or if you leave your partner to pursue a dream of traveling the world, suddenly you may find how you view yourself changing drastically. Or, you might not yet be clear on what your heart wants – and that is okay, it is part of the process.

2. Your financial situation may change drastically

A decision to follow your heart, whether it is starting a business, writing a book, making a movie or traveling the world, may cause you to draw from your existing resources. For a time, it may drain your bank account, depending on your situation. In the long run, however, by following your heart you will eventually find a way to earn a living. It may not happen in the timeframe you desire, so be prepared that your finances may take a hit in the short-term. I have (mostly) followed my heart and while it has made me rich in relationships and life experience, it hasn’t exactly made me rich in the wallet. Conversely, you could start making more money – woohoo! — than ever!

3. You might need to ask for help 

One of my weaknesses – and it is a weakness – is the lack of ability to ask for help when I need it the most. I tend to be like an ostrich and put my head in the ground. However, when you are chasing a dream, you are likely changing some — or many — aspects of your life, and you will need help at some point, whether it is guidance, money, resources, or just a friend’s shoulder. It is okay to ask for help. It is simply part of the process.

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