Wisdom from Barbara Sher

Discover what you love, do what you love (and everything you love) and you must start now!

Barbara Sher (1935–2020)

Barbara Sher was a a career life coach and a best-selling author. She appeared on Oprah and several other television shows. The “god-mother” of life coaching was famous for her down to earth techniques to help you discover and develop your inner genius.

I recently discovered her via YouTube. I enjoyed watching some of her videos and reading two of of her books (listed below).

Here are a few pearls of wisdom from her 30 plus years as a life career coach:

1. Do What you love

The correct question to ask, according to Sher is not- what you could do, but- what do you want to do. What do you find enjoyable?

Each of us here on earth has a unique gift to share. No one else sees the world the way do and can create what you can. The world deserves to receive your gift.

If you love something, that is what you were “designed” to do. What you love is also what you are gifted at. Only love will give you the drive to stick to something until you further develop your gift. Your heart knows who you really are and senses if you are doing what you love.

2. Discover what you love

We get outside messages from our family and communities. We may rush for things like “success” and “security”, while our own dreams get lost. We have to find our own dreams.

You sense there’s some work you are meant to be doing, but you don’t know what it is. How can this be?

  1. Today, we have so many options that makes it hard to choose. When there’s no emergency in life, we have to create our own goals that have meaning which can be harder.
  2. You do know, but maybe in your mind you think it’s impossible.
  3. Something inside you is stopping you from knowing. Some internal conflict.
  1. Start developing heightened sensitivity to what you like, how happy/interested/excited does this task at hand make you.
  2. Your childhood may have clues.

3. Imagine your perfect day, if there were no outside obstacles, which tasks would you be doing. Fully envision exactly what this day looks like- hours, environment etc.

4. Read autobiographies to get inspired and to start dreaming.

“First allow yourself to fantasize without any restrictions like a child. Only then you can subject your dream to reality, like an adult”

3. Ask “why do you love to do it”?

After figuring out “What do you love to do?”, also ask- “Why do you love to do it?” or what exactly do I love about it.

The answer to the second question will provide insights into the elements of work you’ll find most satisfying. Once you understand the unique elements you enjoy, you can begin to make incremental shifts towards work that is more meaningful to you.

4. What does meaningful work feel like?

A job pays the rent, and may have no further meaning to you. Your life’s work however, feels worth doing. It’s all meaning, whether or not it makes money. Its important to start leaning in on what has meaning to you.

When you’re doing meaningful work, you will feel connected to your soul and to the rest of the world. Connecting between what you love doing with something that has meaning to you.

“What do happy people have in common? They knew what they wanted and they felt they were moving towards getting it.”

5. Wanting too many things, the “scanner”

I want too many things, can’t choose which one I should do? Sher humorously joked that this is like asking which of my kids should I feed this week. :)

Sher uses a term she calls a scanner —these are bright, curious people who love learning and are not satisfied with one area of interest, but rather interested in many things.

If you were ten people, what would each of you do with your life? Make a list. Examples- a poet, a musician, a successful businessperson, a scholar of Chinese culture, a gourmet cook, a world traveler, a gardener, a husband and father a, journalist a talk-show host.

Find a way to live every one of your lives- review the list, which life can you devote yourself to this coming year? Which life can you do when the first one is completed? Which activities can you do for twenty minutes or less each day? Which ones can you do on a weekend? Which ones can you do once in a while?

“Scanners are poets — and librarians, documentary filmmakers, explorers, brilliant salespeople, good managers, naturally gifted teachers.”

6. Does it have to be my career? Make money?

Barbara claims you don’t have to turn every gift of yours into a career that makes money. A dream doesn’t have to make money in order to count. (tip 90)

At first, don’t bother with that. Nothing makes money at first. Then, you might want to make money, you might not want to. You might want not to so you can do it your way. It might be OK for you to have a job that pays the bills so that you get to do the thing you love on your time.

She humorously asses — Do you burn your clothes before buying new ones? First you wear your old clothes, buy new clothes and then get home and give away the old. Start small and take it from there. Get a good enough job- Not toxic, not too long hours. Go after what you love in some capacity for now.

Hang on to your job for a while while exploring different experiences and interests.

“Being stuck doesn’t make any sense. Logically, you know you could make a career choice, and if it wasn’t perfect, you could change it. So what’s the big deal? Why can’t you get moving? You sense some kind of danger in your path.”

7. Isolation is the dream killer, have an idea party

We need other people to help us fulfill our dreams. We need other people to help us brainstorm ideas, connect to resources and hold us accountable.

Get a group of people together and present them with your dream and your current resources/obstacles. Be as specific as you can. They listen and then give suggestions or offer resources and knowledge you may never thought of on your own.

Form an accountability team to support you. Sign up for a class. meet up with the team every week.

If you’re stuck you’re so close, one myth and two pieces of information away.

8. You must act today, but never hurry

While Acting sometimes requires discomfort, it is essential for people who don’t know what they want. Action can also help us tackle mistaken assumption. Even action in the wrong direction is informative.

“The amount of good luck that comes your way depends on your willingness to act.”

Although we do not want to waste any more time by being stuck, we also don’t want to hurry. Why not?

1. There’s more time than you think.

2. Hurry is inefficient.

3. We may suffer from “time sickness” that makes us believe we must fill every waking hour going after what you want, that everything must be done at once because time is about to end. We need to let our lives take their pace with the correct sense of time.

Sources- I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was (Barbara Sher),The Best Advice I Ever Gave: 94 essential tips for making your dreams come true Kindle Edition(Barbar Sher), Youtube do what you love, youtube Ted.

Jewish wife and mother, pursuing a life of happiness and meaning