The Think Smaller Blog is an eight-part editorial series that strives to change the world by empowering anyone to take small, yet potent actions in their community. Taken collectively, we believe these changes can add up to make an incredible difference. Check back every Monday for the latest update.

Follow Your Fire

“The two most important days in a person’s life are the day they are born and the day they discover why.” — Ernest T. Campbell

What keeps you up at night? What do you dream about when your pensive consciousness finally gives way to a wistful and refreshing slumber?

What matters to you? What inspires you? What is that one thing you cannot think about without feeling shivers down your spine and butterflies in your stomach?

When are you at your best? When do you feel like you are really and truly making a dent in the universe?

These are perhaps the most important questions any person could ask themselves.

Do you see the light inside yourself? It could be a smoldering ember or a raging inferno, but it’s there. Maybe you haven’t figured out what it is yet. And maybe you don’t know what it’s telling you. But whatever you do, do not ignore it.

Your job is to stoke it. To nurture it. To feed those flames with every bit of fuel and oxygen as you can muster.

Because whatever that thing is – it is, without a doubt, the single most important thing in the world. It’s your purpose. It’s your calling. It’s your reason for being.

It’s the one special gift you have that, by sharing it with the world, will in turn make the world a better place. And not just for yourself, but for everyone around you.

The reason you were put on this earth is to figure out what your fire is. To follow the path it’s lighting. To chase it down, to harness it, and to make quintessentially your own.

It might seem elusive. And sometimes its light will flicker. But like a blackened sky that follows the setting sun, it is only a matter of time before its brilliant radiance returns to chase away the darkness. As long as you have breath in your lungs and blood pumping through your heart, it can never be extinguished.

What would the world look like if everyone chased their dreams? If everyone felt fulfilled at the end of the day? If everyone could look themselves in the mirror and believe with conviction that they matter? That their work matters. That they are — whatever they’re doing, and however they’re doing it — making a real difference?

There is no challenge so big that we as a collective are powerless to face it. As individuals we can only do so much, but together we have strength. We have the intelligence to cure disease, the resourcefulness to end hunger, and the wisdom to prevent war. We have the compassion to create a world where the isolation, neglect, and alienation that lead to homelessness are no longer accepted as terrible side effects of the human experience.

We have an obligation to remind one another of the beautiful potential each of us has to, in each our own way, create a world of abundance from within ourselves.

We need artists to help us see beauty in the midst of pain. We need environmentalists who remind us that our planet can be delicate and fragile. We need engineers whose ingenuity provides new ways to harness the vast and limitless power that exists all around us. And we need builders whose grit and skill brings those inventions to life.

We need doctors who care for the sick and infirm, and humanitarians who look out for those that have fallen through the cracks. We need philanthropists who finance the great actions of good. And we need stewards of peace who will stop at nothing to protect their communities.

We need historians who remind us where we have come from. We need activists who refuse to let injustice go unspoken. And we need visionaries who will lead us toward a future yet to be created.

The endurance and the prosperity of our collective lives would not simply benefit from every person finding their purpose… it relies upon it. With every person on this planet following the compass of their soul, there is literally nothing we cannot do together.

So find your passion. Listen to it. Nurture it. Trust it. Courageously follow the path it will lead you down. Through uncertainty and self-doubt, keep pushing forward. Because there is no better place for anyone to live than a place where every single person is doing the very thing they born to do.


Jake Shapka is the Coordinator of Brand & Culture integration at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre. He holds a degree in Communications Studies from the University of Calgary and is passionate about inspiring communities to come together to create a world where everyone feels a sense of purpose, connection, and belonging. You can find him on Twitter by following @jakeshapka.