I am SUPER excited to bring to you this week’s “Aha” Moment interview with Lori Deschene of Tiny Buddha. I was introduced to Lori by many different sources. It’s safe to say that she is pretty much a rock star in the social media world (Tiny Buddha has over 90,000 Twitter followers!) and she is incredibly inspirational.
On Lori’s personal blog, she talks about her story and how she got to start what she did by saying, “Then I realized: all my problems started in my thoughts and beliefs. My attitude created pain in everything I experienced. Nothing felt as joyful as it could because no matter where I went, I took myself with me.”
She took this realization and created something that inspires and motivates people on a daily basis. Lori is also a professional writer and is working on her first book!
Here is how Lori describes Tiny Buddha:
Tiny Buddha is about stepping back, taking time to reflect on simple wisdom, and learning new ways to apply it to our complex lives–complete with responsibilities, struggles, dreams, and relationships.
The site features stories and tips about applying wisdom from readers all over the globe. You’ll find posts about happiness, motivation, inspiration, love, relationships, meaning, possibilities, and mindfulness. Much of it has its roots in Buddhism, but this is not a site about religion. It’s about ideas that make sense and make a big difference when applied.
Here is Lori’s story:
Tell me about what you do for work.
I’ve been working as a writer and editor, both for print publications and websites, since 2007. At times I’ve had full-time editorial jobs, and at other times I’ve filled my schedule with freelance work.
For the past couple of years, I’ve balanced paid work with my efforts building tinybuddha.com—a website that helps people live mindful, empowered, happy lives. I also maintain Twitter and Facebook accounts for Tiny Buddha.
I recently cleared my schedule to work full-time on the website and write my first book. It’s been a long time coming, and I couldn’t be more excited to focus all my efforts where my heart is.
What type of work were you doing prior to what you are doing now?
What wasn’t I doing! Before I moved to San Francisco, I spent several years working on promotional tours for a variety of corporate clients. I traveled all over the US displaying their products at tradeshows, concerts, and sporting events.
For a length of time in between tours, I lived in NYC where I worked in telemarketing and promotions, and also tried (and failed) at a work-from-home business. Going back even further, I worked in social services with developmentally disabled adults, both in Washington state and Massachusetts. Before that I worked in childcare, and did a little performing on the side—including dinner theater and even singing telegrams.
I think I can safely say I’ve done a lot of exploring, and I know for certain what I want to be when I grow up.
What kinds of frustrations did you have with your previous job(s)?
Two things frustrated me in my past experiences: I didn’t feel a strong sense of purpose, and I didn’t feel I was utilizing my main strengths. It felt rewarding to work with children and developmentally disabled adults, but neither job provided me with a creative outlet.
I made decent money in sales, but it felt soulless. I loved traveling on tours, but I felt somewhat adrift without roots or strong connections.
The other jobs worked—they fit. But they didn’t fit perfectly.
How did you come to discover this was what you were meant to do?
It’s taken me a lot of trial and error to narrow down what exactly I want to do. When I lived in NYC, a friend of mine once told me I was doing a very good thing by trying on so many hats since I was figuring out what I don’t want to do.
I think deep down I always knew I wanted to write. It’s what I studied in college (along with acting). It just always seemed like too much effort. I had no idea how to get published, where to get published, or where to begin.
Once I started writing professionally, the next question became what specifically do I want to write? I contributed dozens of articles to ‘tween magazines, and I loved doing that. I know how difficult it is to be in junior high, and I felt meaningful helping girls during that rough time in their lives. But I didn’t want to work full-time for a magazine. That didn’t suit my entrepreneurial spirit. Also, I didn’t want to limit myself to writing for kids.
Tiny Buddha allows me to do and be everything I want to do and be. It’s taken about a decade of working to get here, and I finally feel at home.
What fears did you have to overcome to take the leap?
It’s never really felt like a leap since I didn’t make a smooth jump from one way of living to another. It was more like crawling, walking, jogging, and then running. I’ve dealt with tons of fears along the way. I feared:
- It would be too hard to get published.
- It would take too much effort to have my work published consistently.
- If I tried and failed I’d have to live knowing I couldn’t do it; it might have been safer not to try at all.
- I wouldn’t be able to make a living writing.
- If I did make a living writing, I’d always struggle.
- If I did get my writing into the public eye, I’d have to deal with criticism and judgment.
- I might not be motivated enough to do my own thing and be successful.
- I might actually be successful, and then have to maintain a sense of momentum.
- I might actually be successful and still feel dissatisfied.
Going back to the question above, I knew Tiny Buddha was what I’m supposed to do because I felt satisfied from the moment I started. I have a feeling I will no matter where it leads.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love knowing I make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. I see in the comments readers leave, the emails they send, and also the posts other writers submit.
If you were to give advice to people thinking about changing careers, what would it be?
Identify your core values—three to five things that matter most to you in life. (You can find a list of them here). Once you’ve identified your priorities, you’re better prepared to design a life that supports all or most of them.
If you don’t take an honest look at where your heart is, you may end up choosing something that other people want for you, or something that looks good on paper, or something you think you should want. If you do that, there’s a very good chance that even if you’re successful, you’ll still feel dissatisfied.
If your priorities are family, creativity, meaningful work, and security, you probably won’t be happy doing contract work that requires you to travel a lot. That would take you away from your family and provide you with little security.
It may seem like a no-brainer when it’s laid out like this, but I’ve found a lot of people do things that don’t make them happy because they’re chasing something they think will, whether it’s money, esteem, or glory.
The best advice I can give: don’t postpone your happiness. If something doesn’t fill you with a sense of passion, meaning, pride, and even peace—at least on the whole—it’s likely not what you’re meant to do.
When you find what you are meant to do, you won’t need much more advice. It’s amazing the kind of miracles you can create when you’re deeply inspired by what you’re doing.