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Finding Your Place in the World
"Does the opportunity have heart?" If not, what could you do that does? In other words, begin your journey by doing things that naturally harmonize with your values, skills, abilities, and God-given talents. Create a vision—your game plan for your personal path through life—then map out how you'll get there. If you haven't found out already, you'll learn that the things you do right now affect who you will become in the future.

Although "discovering your passion" and "achieving your dream career" sound like far-fetched goals, remember that every journey starts with one step. Think about your path step-by-step. Yes, it's a long process, but it will also be filled with exploration, adventure, and fulfillment that you can feel with each step, knowing you're on your way. It's also important to realize that every new path you take is an opportunity to create, learn, grow, and stretch while exploring life's possibilities—whether or not it leads to a dream career.

Too often we decide to follow a path that is not really our own; one that others have set for us. We forget that whichever way we go, the price is the same: in both cases we will pass through both difficult and happy moments. But when we are living our dream, the difficulties we encounter make sense. —Paulo Coelho

When you try something new, your mind, body, and soul stretch and never go back to their original shape. Opening the back door to your future is really about growing and gravitating toward something that brings meaning to your life. Each experience will move you in new directions that you never imagined before you came up with the idea. You'll also find that these experiences are shaping your life—pushing and pulling you in different directions—until eventually you find something that really rocks your world. Just like getting on a train and picking up momentum—your life will gain momentum and get better and better. That is, if you work hard at it.

Look at your current situation. Does it fit in with your vision? If not, change it! (Again, the best place to start is with the heart.) And don't be afraid to do what feels natural for you, even if these things sound totally far-out. If it interests you and excites you and attracts you, it's a pretty good bet. Societal norms dictate many people's lives. Creating your own path means becoming a pioneer and explorer, discovering new places, exploring new ideas, meeting new people, and, most of all, uncovering the unique gifts that you were born with. Since no one blatantly tells us what these gifts are, we have to challenge ourselves to bring them out. Fortunately, you'll find that these gifts always direct you to your place in the world.

Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible . . . and suddenly you are doing the impossible. —Saint Francis

It's also about finding your zone space. Do you know that feeling—the zone you get into when everything feels right? Some figure out their zone space right away, others take a lifetime to get there, and, unfortunately, many give up when success is just around the corner (so please, please don't give up!). It may take a lot of work on your part, but you can carve out the path that's right for you. You'll know it right away. It will be a path with heart and it will energize your existence on earth.

About the Director (a calling unique to me)
Mike Landes: DirectorAs I reflect on a handful of experiences in my lifetime—landing my first internship with Gallo Winery while in college; learning to "think different" as an event marketing intern at Apple; traveling coast-to-coast with MTV; counseling and inspiring college students about the importance of internships and short-term work experiences at California State University, Chico (my alma mater) and Pace University in New York; venturing to Europe on a solo backpacking and cycling adventure (I absolutely loved Switzerland!); experiencing the beauty of Yellowstone National Park while working as a recreation manager; connecting more with the earth as an apprentice at a farm; teaching elementary school children; or working as a graphic designer/illustrator at the American Institute of Wine & Food, Harvard University, and other nonprofits—I realized that all of these experiences, no matter how unrelated they were, have made me the person I am today. By looking at the world with curious eyes and exploring what's on the other side of the mountain, I now can see this incredible place we live in from many perspectives. Amazingly, I've seen my calling in life develop through this extraordinary sojourn that I've experienced. Fortunately, I can now share my insights and philosophies with you through this site (which I'm very thankful for).

Did you know? first started out as book and was originally self-published in 1996. Here's what the first Ten Speed Press edition of The Back Door Guide to Short-Term Job Adventures (circa 1997) looked like at Check out edition #2, #3 and #4 (the final edition released in 2005).

Michael Landes
Chief Adventure Officer

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