Carol-Lynne Michaels a co-founder of TEDxVictoria and has worked with hundreds of thought leaders in refining their stage presence. Learn about the biggest, scariest decision she would absolutely make again to follow her purpose.
Q: Can you tell the viewers a little bit about who you are, what you do and where you are geographically?
Sure. Geographic first, I live in Victoria. I’m from the mainland, Vancouver. I’m really enjoying in this part of town. I’ll tell you where I am at right now, that is I’m working in higher education. I’m working in a position that I’m grateful to have full time. I’m very influenced and informed by my co-workers.
But the work that I’m holding is actually holding me back. I realized that in the past few months. I’m currently in a situation where I’m exploring other options and I’m trying to put myself in situations where I’ll actually be working with the skills that I want to be.
Q. What comes to mind or how would you self-define the idea of a soul purpose? What does that mean to you when you hear that?
For me, S-O-U-L Purpose really connects deeply. I didn’t really realize that until I was working on TEDxVictoria that I actually could have a Soul Purpose Project. I could have something that really connected with what I think I’m here to do.
Because I remember way before we started it, the conference, I realized I really want to be working in a way that I’m not the person on stage.
I want to be whispering in the king’s ear. I want to be the soapbox that everybody stands on. I want to be pushing the people who deserve their ideas or whatever their talent is into a place or a platform or arena where more people can see it and they can disseminate knowledge, etc. experiences from there.
That’s what exactly what this TEDx conference was. It was curating speaker content, bringing volunteers into the organization and putting them in situations where they would shine.
That to me proved that absolutely I could be involved in something where I’m connected to my soul purpose and having a lot of fun doing it.
Q. Do you think that everybody has a soul purpose?
I think so. I don’t know that everyone is going to figure out what it is because some people maybe aren’t looking.
But I think that more people realize that you love to do certain things and you have a natural talent for something.
Some people maybe think they have those talents and might actually know what they are. What if someone said, “hey, you’re crappy at that,” and they took it to heart? That’s a huge barrier in actually forming and exploring your soul purpose, in my own opinion.
So I think that everyone really can connect to it. It’s just a matter of turning that switch on and looking for it and figuring out maybe where you are and having patience.
Q. Do you think that a soul purpose is attainable only through a work-type situation? Or do you think that there is flexibility in terms of how that comes through in one’s day-to-day life?
I guess I can only speak to my experience. For me, that Soul Purpose Project that I confirmed—I just mentioned it was a volunteer organization, it was a volunteer situation. As I’m moving into my mid-30s, getting closer to mid-30s, I’m really pushing hard so that I can create that with my work life as well as my volunteer life.
But there are people who just—there’s women who just need to have babies and there’s men who just need to create and build or to actually move things forward. So I think it’s definitely up for interpretation. So it doesn’t have to be what I’m thinking it is.
I just think that I’ve lived a really whole and integrated life. I wouldn’t want it to just be one thing. I really want it to be 80% of my life to be soul purpose because from my experience, it’s very joyful.
I feel very powerful and a lot stronger when I’m doing work that I love.
Q. What impact do you feel that there is on one’s finances as it relates to living in your soul purpose? Do you think there’s a positive impact or a negative impact associated? Do we have to choose between money or passion or doing both?
I think that’s a really big point of struggle for a lot people because there’s so much information out there where we live in a scarcity mindset in North America where the housing bubble—There’s so many things where we just kind of go, “Oh, I don’t think I can make that much” and “There’s not a lot of work here. It’s hard to find work here.”
But you could just start saying the opposite and believing in moving into a world where you’re using new language, you’re behaving in a way where you know that there is money, there are projects. It is possible.
So I definitely am personally a believer that what you say, what you think, what you expect, is possible to create and manifest. So I think keeping your chin up and—what is the expression? “Fake it until you make it,” or “Grin it until you can win it.” I’m maybe making that last one up. But I really think that perspective and intention are very powerful.
So in a way, I’m saying no to your question. I don’t think it’s tied, but I think it’s a personal growth that someone needs to take on and move through, every single one of us.
Q. How did you get clear on what your soul purpose was? What was your process around that?
That’s a good question to try to think back.
I finished high school and I went to college the first time. I had a great time with a theatre diploma.
Then I had this sudden point where I ended a relationship. I ended a job right before I was going to get promoted. I don’t remember if I moved too but I stayed in the same city. I just started working and playing and volunteering and balancing 3 or 4 jobs and also some part-time schooling over about 7 years.
So I think that there is some impostor syndrome. There are some negative aspects and self-beliefs that came out of that for not being post-secondary educated or degree.
But at the end of the day, I think that I looked at the patterns that I was creating. I started having more people in my life where I was curating my front row of supporters.
I was making sure that those people actually did support me and weren’t toxic or draining in any way. I was bit more careful and conscious about that.
I participated in feedback a little bit more and started asking myself questions like what makes me come alive? and what do I enjoy doing? even asking my mom. We’ve gotten a lot closer over the years. She’s seen me throughout a long period of time. What does she pick up?
So I think it took a while for me. I would say I’m a late bloomer, but I think that’s because I’m pretty ambitious. So I would have liked to have gotten started sooner.
Q. I think it’s better late than never right?
Q. Can you describe a decision that you made, that looking back was a crossroads type decision that you would make again in terms of pursuing this course of action, this course of pursuing your soul purpose?
Yeah. I just briefly mentioned it. It was quitting my job before getting promoted. I was working in a bank. I was in a part-time position. Details, details, but essentially I was going for a job interview at a different branch. It would have been a really smart choice, if you asked maybe my dad.
But the night before my interview which I was, for the most part, pumped about. I was sitting with my boyfriend at that time having dinner and I think he probably just asked me how I felt about tomorrow, if I was excited.
I remember just crying, I just started crying. I went like, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t believe I’m going full-time. I’m not going to be able to do all the things that I want to do.” It just was this clarity. It was kind of obvious then where it’s like, if I’m doing this part-time and then I do it full-time, I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it at all.
So I went in the next day to the interview. When they came over to bring me into room, I just was very polite. I did dress up to look good for it, but I was very polite and I said, “Thank you so much for your time. But I’ve had a very sudden change of heart and I’m withdrawing my application. I may possibly leave the company altogether.” And I did.
I left the company altogether, drove away, pulled over. I called my current boss just to let her know. I went into the branch and we worked it all out.
But that was huge at that time. I was in my early 20s. To say no to your potential employer’s face and, in that situation, turning back, going back to your current boss, being like, “I just bailed. This looks bad on everybody,” it was pretty scary. I just held it together. I was very professional. I was really relieved. I don’t remember what I did next because it was a long time ago. I know I got busy into things that I really liked. It just sort of opened up.
So for me when people say “moving something out of your life,” whether that’s a dreaming person, or a job, or it’s just something that you hate doing, if you remove it, you’re creating space for good things. So I’m glad I did it.
Q. Talk about leap of faith eh.
Q. What is different about you now? How are you a different person? Or who are you being now that you weren’t before, now that you’ve got a hold of your purpose and you’ve had a taste of what’s that like?
There’s an ebb and flow for sure. There have been recent events that have really knocked down my confidence. There are people in my life that keep going “Get up,” kind of stuff.
As I mentioned, I’m currently not feeling all the time like I have a Soul Purpose Project. But I feel very connected to my goals and I feel connected to what I need to be doing, to feel productive and to feel proud of what I’m contributing in the world.
So how am I being different now that I really know? I think I’m just moving with almost like a strategic intention. I almost have a bit of a strategic plan that I can check in on.
If I’m completely lost, I’ve got my best friend, or my sister, my partner, my mom, whoever it is, to go, “I feel completely overwhelmed and lost. I’m in completely the wrong world. What do I love? I’m just asking for reminders.” They’re pretty good.
Q: What is coming for you? What haven’t you done yet ?
There are a few projects that I would love to start. I don’t think I could do them unless I was working part-time, but I don’t really want to give them away or necessarily get anybody’s hopes up.
I’m just trying to work things out for myself. That’s recent. That’s near future. There are a few projects in the next couple of years I want to—I’m not really sure.
I think I’m currently at the spot where I want to be using the skills that I want to be working on in my workplace and in my volunteer work. So putting myself in a situation where that is going to happen is the current focus.
Q. What are your obstacles? What’s standing in your way from now until then?
Finances is a big one because I’m moving in with my partner. That will save on funds but then there’s a little bit of an expectation to travel. We’ll see, so that’s just sort of I want to ease into that and see what the changes are.
One of the obstacles has actually been my position. I applied for a number of jobs while in this position. It became very clear, being picked in the Top 5 out of 200 applicants or being in the Top 15 out of 80 and being the next in line for 2 of them. I asked for feedback after coming very, very close.
It’s been a situation where the person hired is current with their craft. So my position was an obstacle. The longer I stay, the longer I’m going to be further away I get from myself.
But I’m not really complaining because there are a lot of great things going on with what I’m doing right now.
Q. What would you prescribe as ingredients for success, for determining what your soul purpose is and transitioning into that, based on your own experience?
The first thing that comes to mind, which isn’t really relevant but will get anybody amped, is to watch anything or to listen to anything by Brene Brown, because she kicks butt. She’s amazing.
She can really drive you forward into pursuing what can be a struggle for some people– that is looking inwards.
It works for me because of my semi-organizational spreadsheet mind. I really like whiteboards and mapping things out or filling a notebook with a calendar and going, “What would I want to do by this point?” and “How old will I be in how many years?”
It’s one that with a partner, a sister or someone really close to you, and playing that game. I have a girlfriend, with whom most of the time at the beginning of the year or at some point kind of around New Year’s, we’ll do a check-in together.
I think that that’s really important to figure out how you can move forward strategically in doing the things that you want.
There are lots of fun things to do as well.
You can get a jar and place pieces of paper where you write what you want to create in the next year, or what you’re grateful for, or what makes you happy, or what you’re proud of, and then just tucking those away.
Then at the end of the year, opening that up and then you hack them up for patterns. You can go or be reminded, “That makes me happy. Doing that kind of work makes me happy.” The feeling I got working with these plans made me happy. Why don’t I do that at work anymore?
Keeping track of what your interests are and what your—basically keeping track for yourself. It’s really looking inwards. So it’s worth it.
Q. Do you have any last words or final thoughts that you’d like to share with the viewership?
That’s a lot of pressure. “Any last words?” I just think that I’m really excited to see what kinds of patterns you see across all the different people who are participating with you.
So I really hope that people will feel that they can be honest and they can share their obstacles and their successes.
The more people better working in their passion, in their soul purpose, I think the happier this place is going to get. So everybody wins.