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Your Divine Assignment: Doing the Work You Love

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Dearest Pinkies, Harvard lawyer -turned writer/career coach/ workshop leader Tama J. Kieves is back with probably some of the most inspiring words we've ever read on Owning Pink. We are, as ever, profoundly grateful for Tama's generosity in sharing her wisdom and insights with the Pink Posse. Enjoy, Pinkies, and may you say YES to your own Divine Assignment, whatever it may be.

When I had my career melt-down and fled the life of being an elite-law-firm-corporate-lawyer, (an honors graduate of Harvard Law School), I thought I was changing careers. I had no idea I was changing my definition of the divine. I was leaving behind the Big Removed Guy in the sky, more concerned with the next life than the wonder of this one. In doing the work I love, I discovered a fresh astonishing companion, one who hid a thousand diamonds in my veins, and urged me to break free of every limitation, trust the path of love, and realize my own power to create.

I had always wanted to be a writer. But I chose a legal career because I was being “practical.” No career counselor had ever realized I wasn’t being practical: I was being blasphemous, presumptuous, and small-minded. I was deciding that the Universe could not support my innate longing, and that joy, the trademark of spirit, was flimsy and perilous. No one ever suggested that my thoughts created my experience of reality: and that because I believed in a harsh and denying world, I would encounter it. People who held fast to limitations congratulated me on my decision to deny my sacred longings.

That’s why none of the typical career advice ever worked in my unfolding journey. Many career experts assume a certain world into which you plug your identifiable talents. But in my career transformation, I discovered that if I followed my “unrealistic” desires, they created a new world. I didn’t need a sharp direction. I needed connection, connection to the absolute knowing that I was beloved and would be inspired. My focus wasn’t sorting through aptitudes. My real work was letting go of false assumptions and hobbling beliefs.

Today, as a leading career coach, I see so many who ache to jump into a radical new expression of themselves, yet they approach it in a conventional way. But Spirit is not an old-school career counselor with a desk job. This infinite presence beckons you to step into an experience that is beyond career assessments, industry standards, and blunt approaches, especially now in cutting-edge times. So I’d like to offer you five areas of focus based on my book, This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love, that have helped thousands of individuals to brave this spiritual path of reclaiming their true identity and creating the life of their dreams.

1. It Takes an Intermission to Find a Mission

You may want to flip from one crazy all-consuming life into your next roiling self-expression. But first you need space: to inhabit your spiritual wholeness once again. I don’t care how much you can multi-task. You’re not going to hear an inspired voice within you with a cell phone in one hand, a palm pilot in the other, while driving your kids to soccer and making grocery lists in your head. Most of us have to find time before we can find ourselves.

When I left my legal practice, I consciously eviscerated my expenses, spent some of my meager retirement money, and got a “drop-out job” waiting tables to help pay bills. My ego wrestled with this transition. But my Spirit assured me that “it’s never a step down to step ahead.” I needed this deliberate time to stop the speeding, reckless train from roaring in the wrong direction and to listen to what was underneath the wheels. I’ve had clients create this sacred space while still in their jobs. They commit to less hours or diminished responsibilities. They focus on making “spirit time” a priority: time to walk, journal, meditate, or pray. Quiet time is nectar for translucent inner guidance.

2. Honoring Your Crazy Love

Many of my clients squirm when I suggest they “usher in the exiled love,” do the things that feel ridiculously fun and delicious. They want to “get serious” about finding their contribution or starting their business. But a loving Universe does not ask us to deny our exultation and call that responsibility. We have the responsibility to tap our excitement and utilize this renewable resource.

Remember, you’re not looking for a career answer. You’re looking for aliveness. You’re seeking to fall in love. It doesn’t matter if you can’t see how you’ll make money by collecting abalone shells or learning ancient Taoist wisdom. What you love has energy, and that energy will propel you into new experiences, insights, abilities, and expressions.

I began my inspired career journey by writing poetry, begrudgingly and hopelessly, I admit. My practical mind whined and began indexing tropical climates for homelessness. But writing poetry led me to write an intimate book about career transition, and that led to teaching workshops throughout the country, coaching people individually, and starting a worldwide organization. This is a dynamic path. Where you start off, is not where you end up. Begin by activating the secret power of your crazy love.

3. Trade in Your Label for a Ticket

It’s hard to be in transition. It feels like standing naked at a cocktail party. “So what do you do?” strangers ask. You may want to say, “Journal, freak out, and read self-help books. You?” The culture may demand definition, but your soul craves expansion. Do not rush your courageous adventure. You are as undefined as you are unlimited.

When I first left my career, I so much wanted to force clarity. I wanted a business card, a website, an identity, and just to be done with the muddy mystery of tracking my true self. But the spiritual life is one of answering everything on every level, not the grab-and-go quick-fixes of the ego.

I finally had to see my vulnerability as a commitment to a bigger life. In This Time I Dance! I write, “I came to the realization that, while I no longer had a label, I did have a ticket, a ticket to anywhere I wanted to go with my life. I didn’t just have a blank hole on my resume. I had a blank canvas. I could say yes to any desire, dance partner, sunbeam, hope, heartthrob, divine invitation, or adventure that crossed my path. Something would come. And meanwhile, I stood in an open field with all the stars above my head and my brazen arms wide open, unconditional. I knew I stood in exactly the right place where magic could find me.”

4. Only the Tender can Breed the Fierce

The best thing about this journey is that you will have to stop abusing yourself and start nurturing yourself instead. It’s not possible to see yourself as a worthless speck of lint on the good wool suit of humanity. You are someone with the most amazing contribution to make. You will have to dare to see yourself as sublimely blessed and sufficient.

All my life, I’d thrown spitballs at my weakness. I’d always thought that inflicting massive amounts of pain upon myself was a good thing, a motivating force instead of a paralyzing one. But the esteemed psychologist Abraham Maslow taught something I always remember: “All creativity comes from safety.” It’s true. You cannot hear an inspired voice while underestimating yourself. True genius lives inside you. But it only grows in the soil of self-allegiance.

Self-love is our responsibility, if we want to offer our gifts in the world. A most loving Universe can only express itself through you when you treat yourself, the vessel, with exquisite care. Everything you give this world will come from everything you give yourself.

5. Just Start Dancing and the Band Will Find You

There is no right way or wrong way to bring your love into the world. The creative mind has infinite ways to accomplish the good. God is not limited to the expert advice of the day or how things have worked in the past. The Universe doesn’t conform to the statistics of a reportable, static reality. You are in a moving, divine, loving place where atoms take their lead from you. The great philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The power that resides in him is new in nature and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

I often remind my students, “You can’t plan an inspired life.” You will never know the way, but the way knows the way. Thankfully, an infinite loving intelligence is not confined to the cramped realities of our logic. Love has a way of blowing your mind. Your heart knows a small step to take in this very moment. That’s all you need. Practice your craft or volunteer your services now. Experience gives you power and power attracts opportunities. The world has a great need for your gifts, greater than ever before. Put your love in action and it will go where it needs to go.

Remember, you are not alone. You have been given these desires for a reason. Your love and work is needed here. That’s why you’ve received this assignment. Your dance partner has asked you to dance. I hope you say yes, and realize just how loved you are in your lifetime by that outrageously affirming, infinitely creative astonishing companion.


Tama J. Kieves is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School who left her practice with a large corporate law firm to write and to embolden others to live their most fulfilling lives. She is the bestselling author of THIS TIME I DANCE! Creating the Work You Love and is a sought-after speaker and career coach who has helped thousands world-wide to discover and live their true work in the world. Visit her at www.ThisTimeIDance.com and sign up for free inspiration and support through her monthly e-newsletter. Want to find your calling? Get Tama’s Free Report right now on “Finding Your Calling” at www.ThisTimeIDance.com.

Tama J. Kieves
©2009. All rights reserved


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Heather Rae's picture

Really beautiful post. I

Really beautiful post. I especially love step one - it takes an intermission to find a mission. I have found this to be so true in my own life. I started on a journey over two years ago to discover (perhaps rediscover) what it is I love to do, and only within the past several months have I really reached clarity on this. Taking the time to really discover what makes me happy--it has been worth every moment of searching.

Danielle Vieth's picture

"Remember, you’re not looking

"Remember, you’re not looking for a career answer. You’re looking for aliveness." I LOVE this line so much. THANK YOU! And yes, just as Lissa says above, I feel you wrote this just for me. I have been, "living in the question" this year and it is such new territory for my super ambitious, goal-oriented self.

I have even avoided some social situations in the past months because, “journal, freak out, and read self-help books" doesn't feel like an acceptable response to my ego. Ha! Now I want to use that answer just to see how people react.

I have been participating in @gwenbell's "Best of 2009 Blog Challenge" http://bit.ly/4EcFFE and yesterday's entry was best article of 2009. I posted Lissa's brilliant "Waiting and Becoming" article and now I added yours as a late entry here: http://bit.ly/6zICJZ.

http://I am so grateful to you and this community. Muah! xoxo

Joy's picture

Yes, yes, and also ... yes.

Yes, yes, and also ... yes. Thank you so very much Tama.

Jill Doughtie» Blog Archive » “All creativity…”'s picture

[...] “All creativity…” “All

[...] “All creativity…” “All creativity comes from safety.” — attributed to Abraham Maslow [...]

Lissa Rankin's picture

Tama, You wrote this just for

Tama, You wrote this just for me, didn't you? (Of course that's the beautiful thing about a post like this- I suspect every Pinkie who reads this will feel the same way, like you're sitting here having tea with us and gracing us with your wisdom).

I am in a time of transition myself right now. Many decisions need to be made, and I'm longing for some certainty, some way to anchor my life. And yet, I resonate with #1- it takes an intermission to find a mission. I just delivered two book manuscripts to two different editors this week, and it's tempting to dive into the next project. And yet, I think I need to rest. How will I find clarity if I'm always PLANNING? What might happen if I just give it up to the Universe and let go- then rest, stay open, and see what happens.

They don't teach us to think that way in med school (probably not at Harvard law either!) They teach us to DO, to FIX, to SOLVE. But rest and allow flow to happen? No way.

So I'm going to Harbin Hot Springs on Sunday to rest, float in warm mineral springs and recharge. Maybe the path will become more clear....

Thanks so much for the inspiring words. And for being here with us at Owning Pink. We're blessed to have a Pink Goddess like you among us.

With love, Lissa

Cafe Chick's picture

I can relate to everything

I can relate to everything you have written. I have had a year of intermission and consciously tried to take time out from what was an overly-hectic career to enjoy the little things in life and let a new direction come to light. It hasn't been easy. I regularly get asked, "so what are you doing these days". I usually reply, "it depends what day it is"; yes, everyone expects me to have a 'label' or identity, and sometimes I agree with them. I have now just started formulating an idea for my own business; it's early days yet, but I have felt more excited about the next step in my career this past week than I have felt for more than a year.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Megan Monique Harner's picture

This paragraph: “I came to

This paragraph: “I came to the realization that, while I no longer had a label, I did have a ticket, a ticket to anywhere I wanted to go with my life. I didn’t just have a blank hole on my resume. I had a blank canvas. I could say yes to any desire, dance partner, sunbeam, hope, heartthrob, divine invitation, or adventure that crossed my path. Something would come. And meanwhile, I stood in an open field with all the stars above my head and my brazen arms wide open, unconditional. I knew I stood in exactly the right place where magic could find me.”

is simply gorgeous and frankly just what I needed to hear. I have been avoiding defining where I am at to others because I feels it belittles my current stance. The vision of standing in this field with my arms wide open makes me all that more excited about what's next. FABULOUS!

This post is very inspiring. LOVE IT and thank you.


Simone da Rosa's picture

#4 can be difficult to

#4 can be difficult to identify especially when you're a person who normally walks through the world with a clear vision of herself and and how to get things done. Being a hard taskmaster on oneself is as challenging to break as any other habitual behavior or addiction. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Tama. You articulate a multi-layered and complex process with clarity.

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