How to Start Doing What You Were Born to Do

Walter Mitty City 2

On a recent international flight, I finally had an opportunity to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. You’ve probably already seen it but if you haven’t, it’s the story of a guy stuck in mid-life, without purpose or hope or a sense of destiny. It’s about a guy who’s living but has never really come alive.

In the movie, Walter Mitty is an average guy who works in a darkroom at Life magazine. At the beginning of the story, Walter is desperately searching for a missing photograph that’s supposed to be included in the final issue of the magazine. Realizing how important the missing image is, he goes on a fantastic, Forrest Gump-esque globetrotting mission to find it. As you might have guessed, on Walter’s adventure, what he really discovers is what it means to live. 

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”    -Walter Mitty

As I watched the movie, tears started streaming down my face. Oh, come on…don’t judge. I’m being vulnerable here. OK, you can laugh a little — my wife did. But there I was, 30K feet up in the air, watching the story of a guy who discovered what happens when you step out of normal and embrace the remarkable. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. 

All I could do was think about my own life and the lives of so many that have accepted status quo. To be clear, those weren’t tears of despair, but rather tears of gratitude and motivation and passion. I’ve had the incredible privilege to be part of some pretty remarkable things, but I also know that from time to time, I’ve allowed myself to be discouraged. As the credits rolled, I was more determined than ever to do what I was called to do and to help as many people as I could to do the same thing. 

So, what can we do to tap into our true purpose and begin doing what we are called to do? How do we know what that is? In my next few blogs, we’ll cover a few things that can help us break free, look fear in the face and start doing things that matter. For starters…

Declare War on Normal

I’m reminded of another movie I saw years ago called The Truman Show. In the movie, Jim Carrey brilliantly plays the part of Truman, a guy who has spent his entire life as the centerpiece of a intricately planned reality TV show. One day, when Truman decides he wants to venture out beyond the limitations of the world in which he lives, the creators of the show do everything they can to keep him in the show and from discovering the truth about the “real world.” 

“I’ve given Truman the chance to lead a normal life,” the creator of the show says, as he triggers an artificial storm in an attempt to keep Truman from sailing a boat to the edge of the giant movie set. But a normal life  isn’t what Truman wanted. And that’s not what any of us really want, either. Normal. Average. Status quo. The truth is that we were created for more and we simply won’t be satisfied in life until we declare war on normal. 

Blake Mycoskie rejected the normal way to do business when he decided to give away a pair of Toms shoes with every one that was purchased. Scott Harrison didn’t listen to the critics when he left his normal life as a high-end party planner to launch a movement called Charity:Water. Or how about Matt and Laura Parker, who decided not to be normal missionaries? Because of their courage, over 700 girls have been rescued from sex trafficking and over 150 criminals have been arrested through the Exodus Road.

It’s time for you to declare war on normal. 

More to come soon. So, how about you? What do you think are the biggest things keeping you from stepping out and doing what’s inside you? Share it in the comments below. 

  • Dianne – Bunny Trails

    Distraction, procrastination, fear, inadequacy.

    • John Bolin

      Thanks for sharing this, Dianne. I fight the exact same things!

  • Jason Weimer

    Fear is the enemy of purpose. Faith is the opposite of fear. I’ve had my fair share of fear in life. I’m learning to take bolder steps and let it rip and trust. It’s scary fun

  • duffy91

    Money, capital, funding, short-term needs vs. long-term desires.

  • Shannon Miller

    Great site John. The quest for normal is indeed the worst journey anyone can emabark on, especially because it’s a path that doesn’t exist.

  • Trish Pederson

    I was born to follow Christ and glorify Him. With that came talents and gifts to be offered up as sacrifices to Him. I love to write. I could sit and write for hours. I could read what others write for hours while dishes topple by the sink and clothes pile. It’s empty nest season for me now and I am writing more and more. My fear is, am I writing for me or for Him? I ask myself, am I getting ahead of God? Should I go for it and submit articles and start writing another book? Will anyone even read what I have to say? I believe He is pressing me to write, but I want to do it with humbleness of heart and unbridled passion. I love raw and gritty, real and intense. I love to hear people’s hearts spill and and splash all over me and I long to do the same. You can check out what I mean by that at my blog

    Trish Pederson

  • Heena Mahant

    But the question is how to find out what we are born to do?
    Fear of taking risk and failure is what stopping us.