Doors. I have been spending a lot of time thinking about open doors, closed doors, long hallways, and why people are so afraid to use what is in their hands. We all have skills, talents, gifts that we can use to unlock doors (call these our keys), but we become so afraid because of past experiences that we don’t use them.
What if your past experiences and everything you have been through to this point has created the perfect mix of experience and zeal to help you turn that key, walk through the door, and secure a good future by using those gifts to help others?
Our experiences are not just for our own lessons. In fact, many believe that our experiences are often for others folks to learn from so they can see that we rose above them and triumphed over them. So others can see that what was meant to break us instead built us. This is why it is important to understand how your experiences help you understand your voice and how your voice can help you share your story. Perhaps you haven’t found the happiness you desire because you are meant to help others and haven’t yet allowed yourself to do that in the way that is true to who you are. As we step into this holiday season, I hope you will walk with me through this post using the analogy of keys and doors as we talk about the skills, talents, abilities, and gifts you have and how you can use them to truly discover your voice and learn how to share your story. What a gift it would be to end the year living authentically and fully in the life you were designed to live.
The most important step in using the keys in your hand is to understand what they go to. Just as you need to know the difference between your front door key and your back door key, or the garage code and the front door code, you have to know what is in your hand and where it can be used. To do this:
- Write down your major life experiences that have impacted you significantly and that you are comfortable talking about.
- List your talents, skills, and abilities. Any and all of them that you enjoy using, including ones others have mentioned to you that you may not yet agree with.
- Outline the plans you have had in your life that have worked and those that haven’t. Look for intersections and highlight them.
- Write out careers and skills that you would enjoy doing but haven’t considered due to finances, lack of perceived talent, or fear of trying to go for it.
As you do the above steps, you should start to see patterns in topics that you have a lot of gifting within. Ideas should start to spring forth for classes or workshops you can teach. You should begin to realize career paths you can pursue or organizations that may be able to use your talents. Don’t say no to anything right away, but instead stay open to possibility. Now that you know the keys and have identified them, you will be more aware when you come across doors to which those keys may fit: volunteer opportunities, conversations with friends, career moves, etc.
Just as keys are cut a certain way, different doors have different locks on them. Once you are familiar with your keys and how they are cut, stop pursuing doors that have locks your keys won’t fit. If you see that your keys give you the ability to become an entrepreneur (and you have wanted to do this), why keep looking for jobs working for others? If you know you are well gifted in reporting, why would you look for a job that doesn’t include reporting in the description? Once you know your keys and understand which doors they will unlock, you have conquered the first step toward using what’s already in your hand.
Once you know which doors to walk through, you have to continue into the foyer, walk through the hallways, and continue exploring the area to determine which other doors your keys unlock. Getting a job, for example, is only the first step for someone looking for a new career. Once you get the job, you have to look at pathways to use your skills for the new company so you can move up the “corporate ladder” or learn new skills that complement what you already know. You keep moving down the hallways and ensuring you are always looking for new doors to pursue as the timing is right.
The problem so many face is that IF they are bold enough to use their keys to get in the door, they stop once inside. But like a house, there are many doors to pursue and many ways we can move once inside. We must be wise and think about which doors are for us and which ones belong to others. This is a good time to caution you that not every open door is one you are meant to walk through. Be sure to always line up the doors you walk through with the keys that you are holding. Some doors are open for others but you arrive first. Don’t walk through what isn’t for you. Stay focused. Know your goals. Move accordingly.
When you know your goals and stay focused on them, you can use them as a floor plan from which you plan each step forward. Ensure you don’t walk through any doors that don’t bring you closer to your goals without a strong reason for doing so. Don’t align yourself with people, organizations, or volunteer efforts that aren’t in line with where you want to go. Anything you spend time on outside of your calling and focus becomes a possible detractor.
Your friendships, activities, books you read should all align with where you are going. The problem so many of us face today is we are stretched so thin between family, work, church, and kids’ activities that we have lost sight of what our focus in life is. We have lost track of our dreams and where we want to go in life. We have become a society of people living so fully in the moment or in the past that we have forgotten what it means to plan while enjoying the present and learning from the past.
This is where your goals come in. To understand how important it is to plan, think of a contractor for a home who is hired to come in and design a kitchen. Imagine that designer building out the kitchen without talking with the homeowners to discuss what they desire for the home? Imagine if he worked on the kitchen without understanding where the home’s doors would be and what the various areas of the house were around the kitchen. This is how you end up with a home with a fridge right next to the bathroom or a back door that doesn’t open to the deck a few feet away! We have to understand our plans so we can ensure we are building the right areas within our life and doing so well.
Sometimes, doors aren’t open when you walk up to them. For these, you need to walk up to them and open them yourself. You do this by using the keys in your hands — and as a note, sometimes you will need to jiggle the key because the lock is a bit rusted from sitting unused for so long. For your business, this may mean attending local networking groups or working with some folks you know who complement services you offer. When you open doors using the keys you have, there is a certain feeling you get because you know that you did the work. When you walk through the door, you know that it is the right one because you turned the key and it opened yourself.
As authors, writers, speakers, and folks who are in the arts, our doors often come by being creative with what we do and how we do it. We have to network with others and talk to business folks to see what they need and how they would like to accomplish it. As creatives, we also tend to put our entire being into all we do, so we have to be careful when we walk through doors to ensure we don’t get too comfortable in the hallways of life when we are supposed to be walking towards a conservatory or office space. We need to ensure we are using our talents wisely and that we are taking time to stay focused on the end goal.
Take time to think today about the doors you have been avoiding and the ones you have been walking through. Find out what is causing fear about opening doors you know are for you and reasons why you continue to walk through ones that are meant for others. Search yourself to understand where you want to be and how you would like to get there, and then pull all the information together so you can get up, walk through the doors meant for you, and start enjoying the path you are supposed to be on.