As I head into Week 4 of my LYJ Search Class, I am posting what I will be asking students tonight to consider. This is an exercise that comes straight from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. It’s a tool that gets you to think freely about possibilities for joyful work, without self-imposed limitations. Here goes:

Five Imaginary Lives If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them? I would be a pilot, cowhand, a physicist, a writer, a psychic, a monk. You might be a scuba diver, a cop, a writer of children’s books, a football player, a belly dancer, a painter, a performance artist, a history teacher, a healer, a coach, a scientist, a doctor, a Peace Corps worker, a psychologist, a fisherman, a minister, an auto mechanic, a carpenter, a sculptor, a lawyer, a painter, a computer hacker, a soap-opera star, a country singer, a rock-and-roll drummer. Whatever occurs to you, jot it down. Do not overthink this. The point of these lives is to have fun in them – more fun than you might be having in this one.

My addendum to Julia Cameron’s exercise is that in these lives you have all the tools, talent, money and help you need to be successful at whatever you choose.

I don’t think that you should run out and change careers as a result of the answers to this question, but I do believe they provide clues about meaningful activities that could bring your life joy, and perhaps, a new career path to explore especially as we prepare to enter a new year and new decade. I like to ask students what’s one tiny action they can take toward one of the items on their list. For example, when someone in my last class wrote down artist, her tiny action was buying one tube of paint and a paint brush.

My 5 Imaginary Lives are things I dabble in already: Writer, Artist, Musician, Cookie Baker and Tea Shop Owner. Lately I’ve been adding a sixth which is Astronomer. What are your 5 imaginary lives?