Have you ever had trouble making an important decision for your life? Where you were stuck at a crossroad about what choice to make? Maybe you’ve been at this point when you were working at a job you simply couldn’t stand any longer, or when you had different opportunities but were scared to make the wrong choice. These “what am I supposed to do with my life,” or “is this all there is” moments are a crucial stepping-stone toward our life mission and calling. We are all unique creations with a personal calling for our life, though there are many paths we can take and many stages in the journey. When we find what fills us with enthusiasm, passion, and meaning, we are on track with our calling and life purpose.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Chinese Proverb
It can take intentional decisions and conscious awareness of the journey we are taking and the direction we are headed to uncover this. Here are a few stages we go through as we seek our calling and purpose, along with the themes involved with these stages.
At first you may be an explorer. This stage is all about introspection and reflecting on who we are and what our life is all about. We examine things carefully from how past experiences have shaped us, to our present interests, and into desires for the future. There is much learning to take place so we can find ways to appreciate our own gifts, interests, and talents. There is probably not clear direction at this point, but there is an intense desire to discover who we are. Questions to ask yourself in this stage: What do you want? What are your passions? What do you value and what’s most important to you? Where do you find satisfaction and fulfillment? What is unsatisfying with your life and work right now? At the end of this stage there should be some awareness about what you can do and what you feel called to do. Let yourself dream about what is possible in this stage and don’t hold yourself back. Set some goals to begin exploring your interests and skills further, and as you go forward from here continue to gain greater clarity.
After you have gained self-awareness you will become a voyager on your way to refining and synthesizing the self-exploration you have been engaged in. At this point you may find yourself traveling from one place to another and moving from one experience to another. A voyager takes in as much as they can to begin refining their purpose. You may have numerous jobs, roles, and responsibilities before you find any clarity. A major theme in this stage is a sense of curiosity. This curiosity leads to continued growth and learning. You may become much more proactive in your openness to new experiences and alternative ways of seeing yourself and the world. It’s a time to develop your trade, begin to cultivate your personal skills and talents, and recognize what you have to offer so you can grow this capacity. Life events and experience will send you closer to your purpose, and you will start to notice what situations or activities move you, fill you with passion, and leave you completely obsessed with what you’re a part of. When this clicks you can begin to build your confidence and expertise in this arena, and start to turn momentary curiosity into life-long interest and passion.
Trailblazer or Pathfinder
Imagine yourself waking up in the morning full of life and energy. You are radiant and totally excited about what you do and what your day holds. You feel a sense of gratitude for the passion and positive change you are making from the work you do, and you’re really using your gifts. This is how your life can be when you find your calling and life purpose. Becoming a trailblazer or pathfinder is a stage where we’re living from a place of empowerment and clarity. The term was actually inspired by a coach and blogger Jonathan Mead, who has a new free event by the same name on Thursday, March 29 to help you start blazing your own trail. I would encourage you to sign-up and be a part of this online workshop if you’re currently on this journey. Outside of his event, I want to elaborate on some things from my own experience and practice that I feel are helpful to this end. Questions to ask yourself at this point are: Why are you doing it? Are your making a contribution to the bigger picture around you? What legacy are your leaving? There is a drive to serve others and a sense that we’re doing something that matters. It is as if we’re living out our destiny, and we are completely aligned and harmonious in our desires and life direction. We are doing what we feel amazing about and are totally engaged in our pursuits.
Know your dreams can come true
I know if sounds cheesy, but it’s true! Regardless of where you are on this journey, how old you are, what you’ve been through, or the obstacles you’re currently facing, don’t give up on this pursuit of making a living from your passions and working in a dream job. It’s never too late to live out a purposeful and passionate life. There are some lucky people who immediately connect their desire and life direction and know exactly what they want to do. I will admit I’m a little envious of these people because it’s taken me a few years to find my passion and get this clarity. If you’re like me you may take the more winding voyage as you discover and refine yourself. It can take time to learn about who we are and how we can impact and serve the most people in the most effective way. As well, what we anticipate doesn’t always happen. Fortunately though, difficult moments can help us begin to transform and find our purpose. Through moments of weakness we find strength. Through fear we end up being courageous. What starts as confusion ends up as understanding. Uncertainty ultimately leads to direction. As long as you stick with it, and trust your feelings, you will find your thriving purpose. This is how it has gone for me. I went through making numerous mistakes as a teenager to helping troubled youth as a counselor. I went from taking a completely practical approach to life because I feared failure, to stepping out on a limb trying to be a drummer in a rock band and start a record label. I went from being negative, cynical, and doubtful about my future dreams, to having my first product due out this coming May to help people overcome this. I am continuing to refine and organize my bigger aspirations, but am getting closer and closer to living a radiant and passionate life, where I’m totally excited about what I do and what the day holds. I love empowering and inspiring others and feel a great sense of purpose and meaning when I do so. What about you? Where are you in this journey to finding your purpose? What is your purpose as you know it? How have you started connecting with your purpose in life?