The Art of Changing Your Life and Career

There is an art to mastery.  And there is an art to making changes in your life and career.  Understand that, and you’ve taken the first step toward your masterpiece, the extraordinary life and career you’ve always wanted.

Change, after all, doesn’t simply happen with inspiration. There is no magic word or secret formula to unleash it. There is only one combination that will bring the changes you want from your life: the combination of your desire and your hard work.

In short, change is an art. 

To practice the art of change means to persevere with purpose. Like turning marble into a masterpiece, turning your passions into an extraordinary career requires a unique combination of creativity, strategy and faith. To create your personal masterpiece, you must harness your deepest insight and then direct it out toward your goal.

The life of Michelangelo holds powerful lessons in the art of personal mastery. By following the Michelangelo Method, you can turn your passion into an extraordinary career. After all, the potential for mastery is inside each and every one of us.

Michelangelo Method Principle # 1: Envision Your Masterpiece Within


"Saint Matthew"

by Michelangelo

Michelangelo held an important belief about the art of sculpture: he beheld a slab of marble and saw the figure within, struggling to be released.

Whatever your situation, no matter how hard change seems, hidden inside the stone of your day-to-day life there is a masterpiece.  To release that masterpiece, to achieve the breakthroughs that will lead you to an extraordinary life and career, you must look deep within yourself, develop a vision of your career which aligns your values, passions, and talents, and then, from that vision, create your masterpiece.

If you are ready to make the break through to your extraordinary career, then hone in on your personal values and unlock your passions.  Create the foundation you need to see the masterpiece that’s inside you.

Discover Your Personal Values

A value is what you believe in. Having life that includes your leading values is of fundamental importance to your personal happiness. Achievement, adventure, beauty, creativity, power, love, loyalty, religion, friendship, knowledge—all of these are examples of personal values. The question is: what do you value in your life?

Ask people you trust to help you discover your personal values. Once you have some preliminary thoughts in mind, talk to someone who knows you well about your ideas and confirm that you’re on the right track.

Extracting your personal values requires asking yourself important and difficult questions.

  • When you wake up in the morning, or as your mind wanders throughout the day, what are the first thoughts on your mind?

  • How do you spend your leisure time?

  • If you had more money than you could ever spend, what would you do with your time?

  • What energizes you at work?

Discovery Exercises:

Write down three answers to each of the questions above and extract all the personal values encompassed by those activities. Try to pinpoint exactly what it is you value.  For instance, if you spend your leisure time exercising, is it beauty or health that you value the most?  Consider other choices that you make in your life.  Are you more excited about the organic grocery that was built in your town or the new cosmetics store? If the answer is the organic grocery, perhaps you value health above all else.

Write each of these personal values on individual 3x5 index cards. Now select the five values that you can relate to the best.  Put the other index cards aside.  Now study the five remaining index cards.  If you absolutely had to lose one of these values from your life, which would you give up?  When you’ve truly decided which you can live without, remove that card.

Repeat this process until you have only one card left.  This is your most important personal value. Be sure that this value is integrated into your work life in some important way. Look for ways to incorporate your other key values as well.

Unlock Your Passions

A passion is the engine that drives you to your masterpiece.  It’s something you do that gives you great joy and engages your deepest emotions.  It’s not just what you do; it’s what you choose to do.

To unlock your passions, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What activities do you wish you could do in the middle of your workday?

  • What hobbies do you keep up with?

  • What did you want to be “when you grew up”?

  • Who are the people that you admire? Who are your role models in life?

  • What or whom do you like to read about?

  • What do you like to talk about with your friends and family?

Your answers to these questions will reveal what truly drives you.  Maybe you spent your leisure time trying to save an endangered forest.  Clearly, you were passionate about the environment.  Maybe you enjoy nothing more than restoring old cars.  Perhaps you’re passionate about cars, or craftsmanship. 

Talk to the people closest to you.  Share with them your thoughts on your passions.  See if they echo your thinking.

Discovery Exercises:

List as many activities as you can which relate to the six questions above.  See which activities come up more than once. What themes do you see? For instance, if you listed “traveling” under wishes, hobbies, and what you like to talk about, it’s a pretty good bet that this is one of your greatest passions. (Michelangelo’s overriding passion was sculpting. Even while painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he still considered himself to be a sculptor.)

Check your passions against the values you uncovered in the previous exercise. If your passion is travel, perhaps one of your highest values is adventure or knowledge. Values and

If you found this article useful, we have additional articles and self-discovery exercises from our companion workbook, "Sculpt Your Personal Masterpiece" that provide principles for releasing your inner masterpiece. Simply subscribe to our free monthly newsletter and you can instantly download the articles and exercises. Our newsletter contains additional strategies, tips, and inspiring stories of others who have turned their passion into extraordinary careers and lives that fit. You may unsubscribe at any time.