In my blog entry, The Medium and The Message, and in Steve’s blog entry, The Medium vs. The Message, we both discuss the difference between your message and your medium. In essence, your message is what you’re here to express or do, like teach people compassion, help people grow, or empower others. Your medium is the method you use to express your message such as becoming a therapist, speaker, writer, lawyer, teacher, etc.
So how do you find your optimal medium when you have so many options to choose from? Here are several ways to help you choose or discern your optimal medium.
First, trial and error. If your message is to empower others and you are naturally talented at coaching, give it a try. If and when it becomes wrong for you, switch mediums to something else that feels more congruent with who are at that moment or with new skills you may have acquired.
Second, use your intuition. Sometimes people have a really strong desire to express themselves a certain way like through writing or singing or being a teacher. It gives them a charge. If you’re thinking about how to express your message and one medium keeps popping into your head with a kind of “ding ding ding” sound, that may be the one for you. Follow your intuition and see where it leads.
Third, use logic. Make a list of all the ways in which you could express your message, for example, writing, speaking, coaching, teaching, being a therapist, etc. Using criterion you decide upon, rank each item on factors that are important to you like “How skilled am I at this?”, “How much would this pay me?”, “Would I need further education to do this?”, “Could I start doing this tomorrow or would I have to wait a year”, “Will my spouse be supportive”, etc. Whatever ranks highest is a good place to start.
Fourth, ask friends. Sometimes our friends have insights that are very helpful. Let them know what you’re thinking and see if anything jumps out at them like, “Oh, yes a therapist. I think you’d be an excellent therapist because you’re so good at getting other people to see themselves and their situations so clearly.” Or you might hear, “Therapist? Uh, you’re not really that good of a listener. Why don’t you try something else on your list?” Use your friends to give you insight, but ultimately you must do what you want and what you feel is right.
It’s important to realize and understand that the medium you use to express your message may change over time. In fact, it may change many times. Or you may pick one medium and stick with it the rest of your life. You yourself change over time, so you could expect your medium to change over time as well. The message is the most important thing, and even that could change. So it’s important to check in with yourself periodically, maybe every 6 months or so, and make sure your message and your medium are still aligned. When they fall out of alignment you’ll experience negative emotions like dread or apathy when you think about the work you have to do tomorrow. When you notice that, it’s time to take another look at your medium or message and make changes when necessary.