There’s nothing kids love quite like feeling “grown up.” Give them some responsibility, and they’re hooked.

At least, that’s how I felt when I worked in my dad’s home office. My dad has his own business, and when he had invoices to mail, he let me help him prepare the envelopes.

This was thrilling to me. As a small child, I loved pressing the return-address stamp onto the black ink pad. I loved the stamp’s disappearing act, the swivel that made the raised letters come and go.

One moment, there were no words in the upper left hand corner of the envelope, and then next, there were several lines of text. Amazing!

Sure, I enjoyed pressing the stamps too, but I didn’t begrudge my younger brother Willie taking on that task instead. For me, the magic was always in the words.

Why am I telling you this? Because many of you have written to me about feeling stuck, wanting to find your purpose but having no idea where to start. Those feelings are real, and they can be very frustrating.

Yet having coached a good many people, I’ve come to realize that it’s simpler than we make it. Not easier, exactly, but more straightforward.

How To Get Unstuck and Follow the Magic

First, we need to get still. We need to find a space away from the hustle and routine and just listen. For me, that looks like sitting in silence each morning, and writing at the start of my workday.

Oh, I hear you when you say that this feels impossible. Distraction is so compelling! When it’s time for me to sit down to write, almost everything looks more appealing. Suddenly, I yearn to do the dishes!

But when I sit down in the chair and start typing, that falls away. The restless part of me gets still, and I can hear what Life is trying to tell me.

Case in point: Until I started writing this down for you, I had not made the connection between the stamp and the words. That’s the power of being still, and – in the words of Parker Palmer – listening to your life.

Stamping envelopes was a clue to my calling, though I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew was that it felt magical.

Once you’ve listened to your life, the next step on the path to your purpose is to … do more of what feels like magic to you.

(Reading feels like magic to me!)

This sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Oh, just do more of what feels like magic – yeah right! Who has time for that?

A few thoughts.

How to Do More of What Feels Like Magic

1. Remember: You don’t need a ton of time. 20 minutes a day is fantastic, 15 minutes is great if you can’t swing 20, and so on. I blocked off 45 minutes to write this essay for you before my first coaching call, but I could have kept it shorter and wrapped sooner.

Do not underestimate the power of small, consistent blocks of time. Here’s one of my favorite quotes, by Anthony Trollope: “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”

Moreover, you will FEEL disproportionately better if you do just a bit of what you love. 20 minutes of magic can get you through hours of “slog” work.

Also, remember: It’s about what feels like magic to you personally. It’s not what you think should do, or what someone else thinks would be a good idea.

2. Notice that if you learn to strip away the reasons why you think you can’t do more of what feels like magic, then you are free to enjoy your life. Amazing. (A great coach can help you with this!)

3. Clarity does not come from endlessly debating different options. Rather, clarity comes from taking action and trying things out. You start with a hunch, a guess, and then you follow and see where it leads.

Brendon Burchard said it well in High Performance Habits:

“Clarity is the child of careful thought AND mindful experimentation.” (Emphasis mine.)

For example, I started writing this essay before I knew where it was going or how it would be of service to you. I just woke up this morning with a sense of, “Hmm, for some reason I feel compelled to write about how it felt to stamp envelopes in my dad’s office. So, I’ll go with that and see where it leads.”

Sometimes it doesn’t work quite so neatly; sometimes I start writing about stamps and realize, “Wait, what I actually want to say is something different.” That’s okay too – it’s part of the process.

Enjoy Making a Mess

One of the most helpful pieces of guidance I’ve ever received as a writer is that often it takes about 100 pages of writing to figure out what your book is about. It may not be necessary to scrap the first 100 pages, but sometimes it is. They are a place to flail around, try things, see what works and what doesn’t.

It’s totally normal to write 25 pages and realize, “Oh, look, I thought I was writing about X, but it’s actually about Y.” It takes time to get to the heart of the matter.

And the messy truth is that you could not have arrived at that place of clarity without what Julia Cameron calls “doing the footwork.” The first 100 pages – or the first dozen sales calls, or the first 10 paintings – are the footwork.

We would prefer to arrive at clarity without making a mess. We would like everything neat and tidy, if you please, spit spot like Mary Poppins.

But dear ones, this is LIFE. It is unexpected and surprising magic.

What a privilege to step into the wonder of it all.


What feels like magic for you? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

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  1. Cassie Lokker January 22, 2019 at 3:33 PM - Reply

    Music feels like magic to me. Sometimes, I can be having a really rough, long day, and even though the workload seems unending, just turning on the radio in my office or kitchen lightens the mood and brings a little magic into my day. I’m often practicing and creating new song arrangements, so sometimes making music feels like work and creates stress. If making my own music doesn’t provide the uplift I need, I find magic in simply listening, because sometimes I end up singing along anyway, and I am rejuvenated.

    • Caroline McGraw January 22, 2019 at 11:11 PM - Reply

      Cassie, thank you for sharing this – I’m so glad that you’ve found the magic of music and let it fill your days. And you give this gift to others through your performances and recordings as well!

  2. Henriette Nørgaard Jensen January 22, 2019 at 4:13 PM - Reply

    What a fantastic way to put it. Thank you!
    Music, movement, writing, learning. I find it magical. Being present in the moment.

    • Caroline McGraw January 22, 2019 at 11:12 PM - Reply

      You’re so welcome, Henriette! Glad to hear that it resonated, and that you were able to connect with the activities that feel magical for you.

  3. Gary Mcilroy January 23, 2019 at 11:52 AM - Reply

    Thanks Caroline,
    I really appreciate your blog. I am semi-retired and steering a course in life coaching. #doing what I love.
    At my tender age of 56 social media has been a challenge, however you are reinforcing what is right and true…but, what I doubt about myself as I set about a new blog. I edit so much, and sometimes change course, however that’s okay…you confirmed it.
    Here’s to Jumping in, making more mess and finding the magic.
    Gary Mac

    • Caroline McGraw January 23, 2019 at 8:45 PM - Reply

      Gary, you’re welcome! It’s great to hear that you’re taking steps toward coaching and sharing your work with the world. If it helps, sometimes I doubt myself when I’m writing a new blog post, too – you’re not alone there. 🙂

      But as you say, it’s okay to feel that doubt. You get to keep moving forward, and keep your focus outward, on the people that you’re supporting. If you focus on how you can contribute, the self-doubt slides into the background. So, here’s to you, and to making the contribution that only you can make.

  4. Emmanuella January 24, 2019 at 7:31 AM - Reply

    Oratory feels like magic to me. I could go on an endless trail and just be in there feeling the flush of energies. It’s like a whole different world wherein I communicate and reach out to others through the melody my voice produces.
    However, sometimes I feel lost with no tangible means of maximizing its potential.

    • Caroline McGraw January 24, 2019 at 6:02 PM - Reply

      I hear you, Emmanuella! There is something really special about speaking and connecting with a crowd. I’m looking forward to hearing your voice on our call today and talking through your vision for your life and your voice.

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