We all know someone who knew exactly what they wanted to do and be from the time they were a child. Someone who seemed to follow some predetermined path and have laser-sharp direction all the way through to adulthood. But for every one person we know that is like that, we know ten or twenty times as many people who aren’t.
I well and truly fit into the latter category along with most of the population and what I have realised over the past few years is that it’s OK to not know what’s next; to have a life that twists and turns; to challenge the status quo; to take the risk and follow your heart. It is actually part of my own path and purpose.
So if you are in this category with me, I am here to tell you that it’s OK. In fact, it is more than OK, it is AMAZING! It is something to be celebrated rather than commiserated and has its own rewards if you look for them…
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I know that it can be scary, especially when everyone else around you seems to have their shit together and you don’t. Trust me, that’s just an illusion too. My shit is more together now than it has ever been, but I still have days when I’m a hot mess, I just don’t choose to share it on Instagram. Remember that thing I call ‘comparisonitis‘? If you are comparing your inner world to everyone else’s outer world it’s time to stop – for your own sanity as well as for finding your true purpose! Just because you’re not quite sure what you really want or how you can fulfill your purpose, it doesn’t make you any less worthy than anyone else.
We are raised to believe that we should know what we want to be from a very young age and that certain occupations hold more importance than others. The truth is that if you are working in any job that makes you happy then you will achieve far more than working in a job you hate – no matter how it looks to other people. Some of the happiest people I know do jobs that I could never imagine doing but they are excellent at them because they truly love what they do.
And just remember what John Lennon famously said when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up:
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” ~ John Lennon
The old-fashioned view of success and purpose being linked to what you do is outdated. You are not your job, your role or your product and to be labeled and defined as such is just not healthy. It’s time to flip your perspective and start looking at your life in terms of how you want to feel. Just as John Lennon said he wanted to feel happy, you may have other feelings that really sing to you – like abundant, authentic, expansive, heard, adventurous, quiet or cherished.
Getting to the heart of the matter and discovering your core desired feelings can help you pinpoint what it is about your life that you really do enjoy and which of those skills, talents, and passions you can follow to create the life that you really want. For me, The Desire Map was a lifesaver. It walked me through this process and allowed me to see and feel my own worth through my feelings. Just as we have our own strengths and our own personalities, we also have our own specific feelings that drive us and these are different for everyone. It is your unique mix of these feelings that makes you special. It can be difficult to uncover your core desired feelings because of decades of conditioning, but taking the time to rediscover them really is life-changing.
One of my favourite quotes to help you start this process is:
“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” ~ Danielle LaPorte
Connecting the Dots
If you can slow yourself down enough to spend a few hours, days or even weeks looking back at who you were in childhood and those moments that you remember with great joy, then you can start to connect the dots and figure out who you were before you got sucked into the abyss of trying to please everyone and putting yourself last.
Let me share my own life as an example…
When I was only 5 years old my mum used to drag me along to calisthenics every week. By the way, calisthenics is an Australian sport/performance activity for girls that includes disciplines like hoops, rods & club swinging alongside marching, dancing and singing with a bit of gymnastics thrown in too – in case you’re not familiar with it! I cried every week until one week I just ran in without a problem. My mum discovered the reason for my change of heart was that I had been put in the front row!! A definite sign of things to come!! And yes, this is me all ready for calisthenics way back when.
As I grew I also developed a passion for teaching and sharing information. As a teenager in the Air Training Corps I was regularly in charge of classes teaching service knowledge, aircraft recognition, drill and ceremonial and even camouflage and concealment! I loved learning new skills and sharing them – and we always had heaps of fun during lessons too. I knew I could never be a regular teacher as there were too many rules, but I was on the right track. This pic was taken on my last night of cadets a decade or so ago!
Then for something completely different I fell in love with geology. It was actually a fluke that I took it in the final year of high school as my preferred choice of subject clashed with my timetable, but I instantly took to it and after seven years of part-time study and awesome OU summer schools I got my BSC in Geoscience. I never really liked the messy outdoor digging bit, but the theory and the microscopy work was fantastic and the drinking was right up my alley.
At the same time I also got a job doing what I loved to do as a child. I worked as an IT Trainer in London and Cambridge and taught hundreds of people how to make the most of Microsoft Office. It meant I got to stand up in front of people and teach – almost a complete winner but the IT side got boring after a few years.
Finally, through my own struggles I discovered crystal healing and the amazing power of alternative therapies. It opened a whole new world to me and allowed me to work with my beloved crystals and teach others about it too, using my own experiences as an example.
And that leads me to the job I do now. I get to use the best of everything I have ever learnt – leadership, teaching, geology, public speaking, motivation, positivity and even a bit of song and dance every now and again. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what I was going to do in life and that everything I did seemed disparate and unconnected. All of these dots have finally connected to allow me to work for myself doing lots of things that I love – and have always loved.
So, no matter where you are in life and how screwed up you think you are compared to other people, remember that all of the things you have learned up to this point can help you figure out what you really do want to do – to rediscover your passion and to live the life you want. You just have to join the dots!
Oh, and if you think I have it completely sorted then think again. Although I love my life, I still don’t really know that what I’m doing now will be what I will always do. I like surprises and I’m sure my life has plenty more in store…
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