Do you ever have those moments when you just think to yourself, “what on earth am I doing with my life?” I am someone who over analyses every possible life situation in my head. If something happens chances are I predicted it, dreamt it or am so surprised that I didn’t see it coming. I struggle to do too many things spontaneously, especially when it comes to my career.
Finding my purpose is something that has definitely taken time and to be honest I don’t think I have it completely worked out. If someone tapped me on the shoulder 10 years ago and told me what I was doing at the moment, I would have been so shocked. I was so convinced when I was at school that I would graduate year 12, get into Law School, graduate with Honours and become a successful lawyer. Simple.
I remember a class we had in year 10 called “Pathways” which, loosely translated to “find your job”. We took a bunch of little career aptitude tests, made presentations on our desired occupation and selected VCE subjects that aligned with that career. At the time I didn’t even completely understand what a lawyer did (still don’t). I had always been told I would be perfect for the occupation because I liked English and never stopped talking. Even when I did choose, my teachers didn’t think I was capable of getting the marks to get into the profession, boy did I prove them wrong.
Things went along according to the plan until my third year of study. I’m not going to go into the whole story here but to make it long story short: I developed a very unhealthy relationship with food, which lead to health problems and a desire for me to heal my body naturally with food. From that point my life has been so centered around health and wellness. I no longer had a desire to practice law at all. I thought that the best thing I could do with my life is help others heal their relationship with food and cultivate a culture free from dieting obsession and excessive exercise.
Rachel Corbett is a writer, podcaster, television and radio presenter. In her podcast ‘Lady Startup’ she interviewed founder of Carman’s, Carolyn Creswell. Carman’s is an Australian brand that sells museli, porridge, museli bars…pretty much all things museli. She started the business when she was just 18. She purchased the museli company she was working part-time at for $1000. She was still in university at the time and working alone, with the help of family, doing all of the deliveries herself. Carman’s is now 25 years old, and her product is available in all Australian major supermarkets and is being exported to many countries around the world.
In her interview Carolyn spoke about taking things slowly. We are currently living in a society where everything needs to be an “instant success” and that we need “instant gratification” for everything we do. She said that there is no less value in things happening two decades down the road in the business as opposed to in the first five years. For me, hearing this was extremely comforting. My Instagram is literally flooded with seemingly overnight success stories. It appears that everyone is Instagram famous with thousands of followers straight off the back. I have put a lot of pressure on myself to try and do better and grow my community but what is the rush?
Carolyn suggests taking things slowly for a few reasons. She really believes in the importance of doing something that you love doing every day for the whole day. She also said to be strategic in the type of job you want to do. Carolyn spoke about her husband. Her husband absolutely loves playing golf. It was suggested to him that because he had an interest in golf that he go and teach golf. There was a subtle distinction between the two. He liked playing golf. That is different to teaching golf. Just because you like doing something as your hobby doesn’t mean that you are meant to have a career in it.
“You want to do it because you feel you are hopefully leaving the world a tiny bit of a better place and you feel pride and pleasure in what you do every day”- Carolyn Creswell.
After listening to the interview I wanted to learn more about finding my purpose and my passion. In my research I stumbled across the Director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence and Professor or Education at Stanford University, William Damon. William’s research identifies the ways that young people develop purpose in their civic, work, family and community relationships. He said that often times people come across their purpose from personal experience, others come across it at work or in their family life. In his book titled “Path to Purpose” he discusses the role of the parent in helping their child find their passion. He encourages them to look at the things that spark their child’s interests and ways that they can get children to further explore this interest. He also said that it is extremely important that parents are passionate about what they do and demonstrate that to their children. If a child sees how passionate their parents are about the family, their work or their role they play in the community it is highly influential.
This information was really interesting to me but still left me with a big question, “what if I am not a child anymore, how can I find my passion and purpose now?” William said that there are two key insights that will lead a person to their purpose.
They will realise that there is a need in the world that needs to be acted upon.
The person will realise that they are capable of making an effort to meet that need and that they would enjoy doing that.
Well that sounds simple enough, but still doesn’t really help unless the person has found that need and desire. William acknowledges that this isn’t easy. A barrier to finding passion is often that a person has been forced to engage in activities that lack meaning to them. For that reason, they are no longer inspired. Another common situation is that a person does have an idea of something but doesn’t yet know what they could do with it or what the appropriate steps to follow it are.
I think it is important to acknowledge that we are now living in a time when the “opportunities are endless.” Whenever someone says that it always comes across so positive, but is it? Maybe if young people today had less options maybe they would just settle for the nine to five job that is available without complaint. For some people that is still their reality. Work is merely just a means to make money. For others the path is not so simple.
The other night I tried to articulate the way a few people I know (and myself) are feeling and it wasn’t quite understood, so I’m going to try again in written form. It isn’t that we don’t want to work. It isn’t that we don’t see a need to work. It isn’t that we don’t have passions. It isn’t that we don’t have things we love. There are so many different pathways. We are overwhelmed by choice. Choices create uncertainty. Uncertainty creates fear. Fear means that we are afraid of taking the step. It isn’t that we don’t know what we have to do, many of us do, but for as long as we aren’t taking the risk we are not being rejected. We are not being shut down. We are not being disappointed.
I am not sharing this for pity, I am saying this to communicate the way that so many young people are feeling. We are an intelligent generation. We are dedicated and motivated. We want to work. We want to be passionate about what we do so that we can give 100% of ourselves to our employers. The extra time we spend thinking is for us to make sounder and more interesting decisions. I believe that each person does have a great intuition. It just depends whether or not you CHOOSE to LISTEN to it or you CHOOSE to take ACTION on it.
The little voice inside my head talks to me every day. I feel blessed that I have trained her to be a positive voice of reason and motivation over the last few years. I know that she has a divine plan and that the appropriate steps will be taken in due course. I know that what my family says to me is out of love and that they only want what is best. I know that this is my journey and those who love me will come along for the ride. Sometimes you just have to trust. It isn’t easy but everything always seems to work out. I have put faith in myself. I can do it.
If you are now staring at your screen wondering “what is my purpose?” I encourage you to do this. Close your eyes and take the deepest breath you have taken all day. Repeat the mantra – “I am open to all the opportunities that come into my life. I am a curious being. Beautiful things will come to me.”
Sure at times we will think things could be going much smoother. We will look ever at somebody else’s path and wish ours was going that direction. The reality is that we are not on their path. This is YOUR path. LOVE where it has got YOU so far. TRUST that things will work out.
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou
Baking balanced recipes for fun
What is my next step?