How to Find Your Life Purpose by Sustaining Your Practical Genius

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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This is my last post in my series about Gina Rudan’s book, Practical Genius: The Real Smarts You Need to Get Your Talents and Passions Working for You.  In this final part of Gina’s book she wants you to explore what fuels you.

Gina claims that fueling your genius is a lifestyle, a practice that requires a conscious effort to sustain the mind, body and spirit that will get you to that place where your genius is working continuously.

She argues that in order to really shift the paradigm in your life and your work, you have to act upon your practical genius as a self-selected lifestyle that sets you up for continued growth, gratification and ridiculous success.  Her secret formula is choosing the right content for your body, mind and heart.

Feed Your Mind

How many of us start our day with a list of goals and transfer any we haven’t completed to the next day, only to begin this process all over again?  I am one of these people and Gina wants me to know that I am looking at time all wrong.  Somehow we have gotten into the bad habit of assigning value to the time that we manage.  Gina tells me that managing time is an organizational pursuit, whereas spending time is an expression of your purpose.

Here’s a question Gina wants you to look at: why do your vacations recharge you? 

Because you pick everything you do on your vacation to indulge your passions, your physical desires, and your intellectual curiosities. You are more relaxed and open and willing to try new adventures.

When you are on vacation you are turning your energy inward, pursuing pleasure, wellness, contemplation, and a little mindful silliness… and this is the way you should start your day everyday. Start your day about you and include your some creative pursuits before you yell at your kids to get out of bed and make their lunches for the day.

I think this idea is great… but how does a tired, sick single mother feed her genius when it takes her everything she’s got to get out of bed in the morning? Sometimes I think what coaches spout as simple solutions to life are not so easy for people in certain situations to implement.

What if their home-life simply doesn’t support any sort of self-directed genius until everyone has left the house for the day, or what if their only time for genius is in the car when they are driving to and from work?

People live very complex lives sometimes.

But maybe all you have to do is roll over in bed before everyone gets up and read something that fuels your soul. We can all do that. Just sleep with the book like I do.  Or how about waking up to music that makes your feet move in bed?  For years my mornings have been filled with getting my son the right nourishment to get him through his day at school without a thought to me in the morning.

I want his day to go so well that I put my day on hold until he is happily walking in to school. I work my butt off to make sure he laughs out loud at least once before he gets out of my car to face high school. It’s my gift to him. It’s how much I love him.

But I must confess that I’ve forgotten to think about me.

Gina would call this focusing on output before focusing on input.

She’d want me to gather passionate ingredients for my daily genius breakfast where I feed my spirit before I start fussing over my son in the morning. Once I’ve dropped him off at school I need to look at loading my day tasks, projects, meetings, or conversations that require analytic ability, such as planning, evaluation, brainstorming or problem solving.

The goal would be to spend my day using both sides of my brain simultaneously.

Gina thinks you should save your emails, return phone calls and invoicing for late in your days and should consider eating lunch at the local airport while watching the planes land, or spend a lunch hour walking through a nursery, flower garden or in front of your favorite painting at the local museum.

Anything that fuels your creativity.

We forget that the adventures we seek in life can be so simple to create in our everyday lives. Eating lunch at your desk does nothing for your creativity. Go have a picnic. Go outside.

Another way to stimulate your genius is by turning off the stimulus. She is talking cell phones, smart phones, TV, the computer and answering the house phone. Go out in nature minus any electronics. No step-trackers, no hat-cams, no cell phones and no cameras. Just you and the outside world.

Turn off the electronic stimulus for at least 30 minutes every day.

Play more

Begin with your play history.

Here’s an area of Gina Rundan’s quest for genius that I completely agree with 110%. You need to spend time exploring all the things you loved to play at since you were born and how these play-things make you feel (or made you feel). What was your greatest play moment? Was it a specific toy you loved? A sport you felt great when playing? Was it a park when you were on vacation?

These are all activities where you were in your flow, where you felt at one with your experience and lost all track of time. You were in your genius zone.  This is where your life purpose was trying to form.

The more you explore your play history and look at those times when you were lost to the experience, you will discover what you were put on earth to do.

We have a tendency to market the kind of genius to family, friends, spouses, co-workers, companies and bosses that we think they want us to be, rather than the real genius we really are. We are so afraid of being rejected that we hide that sweet spot of genius that is screaming to get out and play.

We stuff it so far down inside us that it’s difficult to remember what play is.

If you love to paint, then you should buy some cheap paints and paint more. If you love to write then you should be blogging. If you love to organize, you should offer to arrange your best friend’s garage, or office.  If you love to dance you should find a way to dance more, even if it around your living room naked.

Find the play that attracts you. engages you and makes you grow.  This is the place where your practical genius lives.

Reinvention starts with play. What are you going to play at today that sparks your genius?


Thank you Gina Rudan for sharing your book with the audience of 8 Women Dream.



  • Tami

    As a child we care less about what others think of us and more about having fun. I love the concepts of your book, to remember what gave us joy and do it again. My daughter has had 9 brain surgeries in 5 1/2 years-each time we go to the hospital we take an itinerary of fun things to do while she is in the hospital. We laugh and make the best of a tough situation, the nurses love us and freely give us hugs and help. The nurse say we should give lessons to others with less problems-to find the positive in a tough situation. The only thing I find I need to do is find more time for myself-any suggestions.

  • Yolanda

    Thanks so much for this review. It is so easy to get preoccupied with our family’s needs that we forget to take time for ourselves. Reading this has inspired me to take those little steps required to begin my journey to genius!

    • Tami

      I find this the hardest thing to do, but the most needed. May we all find the time to take care of ourselves!

  • Heather Montgomery, Product Launch Dreams

    Damn – forgetting to think about yourself? I totally know what you mean on this one.

    Since the whole concept of a vacation is so foreign, I’m loving the idea of choosing something daily to feed your passion. I always put these ideas in the BIG STUFF category – trip to Monterey, getting back to Italy. When in reality, the almost nightly walks with my husband have been a wonderful break and recharge.

    Thanks for taking us through the book – H

    • Tami

      You are right in your concept of vacation. Most people view a vacation as a trip to another state or country. But you made me realize a vacation is time spent with those you
      love no matter where you are-even in your own home.

  • AMY

    This is great! I simply loved this advice!

  • Love to be reminded that play is important, since I look to cultivate this as a practice in my life regularly… And I agree that we can build it into our lives in little ways, i.e. your suggestion of a picnic on the lawn outside the office, vs. taking off for weeks on vacation… Sometimes all we can fit in is a little moment of play/joy. The more the merrier right! Glad to see that Gina also believes this fuels a life of living your passions and fostering your genius! :)

    Love ya Cath, keep finding those moments to play – you deserve ’em <3


    • Tami

      I totally agree! We were born playing and we should never stop playing. For if we stop playing we stop learning and growing.

  • Jeff Vedovelli

    Great series Catherine and some great points in this one as well. I think visualization is extremely important when thinking about any future goal.

  • Thad

    This is why I ride my bike to and from work. It wakes me up in the morning and gets me in touch with all my physical senses and the ride home relaxes me and helps me put the days events into perspective. Once I get home I am recharged and ready to work in my garage.

    • Tami

      Good for you! Have you ever thought joining a biking group?