A decade before I wrote my first book, I was walking around the streets of New York. I’d gotten lost in the back streets of SOHO and was meandering along my way when I came across a big bookstore. In the large window display was a range of books on how to be a non-fiction writer. At this stage I hadn’t even dreamt of writing a book. But before I knew it, I was walking back on the street with one of those how-to books tucked away in my bag.
That was the first of many crumbs, and over the course of the next fifteen years, it would lead to my purpose. That day a seed had been planted and more clues would follow. A close girlfriend telling me that I should put ‘all that stuff I talk about’ on women’s journeys and my own journey into a book because ‘no one talks about it and we need to.’ Or the crumb of an idea to start a blog after completing my yoga teacher training and my second Masters degree in Wellness, to share that knowledge with the world.
Following those crumbs led to my first blog and website when I was still working for a global tech company. And those crumbs would eventually lead to more blogs, businesses and yes, my first book deal with many more to follow. Contrary to what many people imagine, it wasn’t an instant grand awakening, but a purposeful path that unfolded over time.
We think that we’re going to get struck by our purpose, that the heavens will open and we’ll hear a booming voice declaring what work we should do in the world. But researchers tell us that it rarely happens like that. Instead, it happens by following the sparks of curiosity, seeing where they lead, and continually re-triggering this interest until it either dies out or blooms.
If I had squashed the flutter in my stomach when I saw those books in the window in New York; if I’d brushed aside the comment made by my girlfriend about writing a book when I knew there was something in that for me; if I had resisted the creative urge to start a blog by telling myself that I had a day job and I didn’t have the time (or no one would read it); and if I hadn’t followed through on my idea of writing a book proposal and submitting it to a publisher, even though the idea of being a published author seemed crazy at the time – then who knows, I might still be back in my old job, wondering what my purpose was and how I could walk a different path.
But I did follow the breadcrumbs. Even when I didn’t know why. Even when it didn’t really make sense. Even when it looked like there was no purpose to any of it. I followed them anyway. Because something inside of me was whispering that there was more to be found on my path. Because I believed that things show up on our path for a reason, even if we can’t rationalize it. And because I knew that curiosity is one of the greatest teachers we have: that we should follow the trail when it appears in front of us, and we should trust that it knows where it’s going, even if we don’t.