“What Makes You Come Alive?” by Renée Peterson Trudeau, author of NURTURING THE SOUL OF YOUR FAMILY

Published on January 10, 2023

The last three years have been some of the happiest of my life. I’m living in a gorgeous rural area near the oldest mountain range in the world, I’ve chosen a more creative work path that is deeply aligned with my passions, I’m stretching myself personally and professionally, I’ve simplified and streamlined my material possessions, and every morning when I wake up I ask, “What would make me come alive today?” And I follow that creative impulse.

“What makes you come alive?” is the question I ask my clients, family, and friends every time we meet for a walk or a front porch tea or a glass of wine. It gets us right to the good stuff. I love watching their faces light up when they hear this question and ponder what is setting their hearts and bodies on fire right now.

The last three years have had everyone reassessing where to live, how they want to work, what values they want to embrace, what is truly important to their families, how they want to educate their kids, and what relationships and activities fuel them and drain them.

These last few years have been called “the great disruptor”— but this time has also served as a huge catalyst and a wake-up call. I believe we’re finally starting to see some of the gifts from this time of great challenge.

For 18 years I ran a boutique career coaching firm and assisted countless clients in integrating who they are with what they do in the world. The ones who were most happy, engaged, energized, and creatively fulfilled were those who said, “YES!” to that which makes them come alive. They didn’t play it safe, worry about their 401k, or take the well-trodden path. They followed their hearts and paid attention to that inner spark that was begging to ignite. In his wonderful book Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, my colleague Gregg Levoy said, “Generally, people won’t pursue their callings until the fear of doing so is finally exceeded by the pain of not doing so. But it’s amazing how high their tolerance is for this type of pain.”

My most recent book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life, challenges us to examine how we’ve set up our lives and asks if we’re ready to make hard choices to create more inner and outer alignment. Part of coming into alignment has to do with simplifying, living from the inside out, and embracing ways to do it differently. I believe this approach helps us create the inner space to connect with what makes us come alive.

Are you contemplating this question and having all kinds of excuses pop up for why this won’t work for you? Many of us tend to complicate things. I know I do. Yesterday I was talking to my husband and reflecting on the level of activity we used to manage a couple of years ago when we lived in Austin. We got exhausted just thinking about it! Now I’m learning that living in a more rural area — where there are fewer choices, things are less complex, and I’m more connected to nature — has an enormous impact on my mood, outlook, and overall well-being.

This new year, get curious, stay open, and play “What if…?” I challenge you every day to keep asking and answering, “What makes me come alive?” And then go do that.

Perhaps this week when you circle up at the dinner table, ask your friends and family what makes them come alive. And prepare to see fireworks. Perhaps together you’ll spark something in one another that is just waiting to be born.  

# # #

Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally recognized life balance coach and speaker who is passionate about teaching the art and science of self-care. As the author of three books on life balance, including the award-winning Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Reports, Spirituality & Health, and numerous other media outlets. Visit her online at ReneeTrudeau.com.