I think it’s fair to say that 2020 has been a pretty wild year so far. We’re about half way through at the time of this writing, and it feels like both the longest year ever, and somehow also the shortest.
I’ve found myself with a lot of extra time to think about my life and future, and perhaps you have too.
Something I’ve been thinking about frequently is my purpose in life. Why am I here, and how should I be spending my time? Should I read more books, or was the 5 hours I just spent on Reddit and Twitter watching people argue actually a good use of my time?
So I decided to enlist the help of some fellow humans to share their thoughts with me, and I posed to them a simple question: how did you find your purpose in life?
Here’s what they had to say…
Mike Allen, Founder – The Fashion Jacket
As soon as you hit your 20s, graduate, and enter adulthood, everyone expects you to know what you’re doing. This notion creeps in your 30s where people have established that you already know your purpose in life – but the truth is, the real practical world is scary, and quite often, it’s hard to find your standing in the havoc, making it harder to find your true calling. I have the same story. In fact, it wasn’t until I started paying attention to my personal growth that I found my ground. I used to spend hours and days in the office, investing in building my company, the crave for getting it all started drifting me away from investing in myself; however, with the help of meditation recommended by a close friend, I was able to regain control of my life quickly.
This helped me find my purpose – which was achieving things that aid my personal growth. Believe me, when I realized, I changed a lot of things in my life, including the course and strategy I was incorporating in starting my organization and surprisingly it did help a lot, and I was able to get on my feet quickly. If, at any point in your life, you feel lost, then try to identify things that need to change within you. The changes will reflect in you and will streamline everything around you, helping you understand your purpose, giving you the energy to get going to achieve your goals with the passion that was hidden somewhere inside you
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO – Mavens & Moguls
I started a global branding and marketing firm 19 years ago. For the first 5 years I was scared to go on vacation for fear all my hard work would unravel. Then my in-laws, father, mom and stepdad all started to get sick and I wanted to be there for them. They all lived thousands of miles away so I started to work less. After years of decline they each died about 6 months apart (7 people in 6 years) and I became executrix which is like having another job at times. So I had to take very good care of myself or I would not have been helpful to anyone else. I started working out every day. I started planning me time on my calendar. I became more comfortable with white space in my day and stopped over scheduling myself. And guess what? My business did not suffer, in fact it has become stronger.
We moved up the food chain and have better clients. I do not think I could ever go back. I am so much happier and more productive as an entrepreneur than I ever was working for others. It is all about controlling your calendar. Even before the virus I no longer tried to squeeze in more meetings or hit multiple events at night. As an entrepreneur, I can be selective. Less really is more. I’ve chosen quality over quantity. It sounds trivial but it is true. I created a platform to do work I enjoy and feel energized by. I feel I have found my purpose because I used to work all the time and life was passing me by. I got raises and promotions but I was all work and no play and I did not feel fulfilled. Since starting my business I have joined boards and volunteered at several organizations. I am a mentor to the next generation of leaders and have helped build a very successful anti-bullying program that >100,000 middle school aged kids have gone through. As a marketing consultant I am able to write articles, contribute to books and speak at events to share my experience and lessons learned. For me living the good life is about finding meaning and purpose in my day which I try to do through 3 key anchors in my life:
- Spending time and sharing experiences with family and friends
- Being part of something bigger than me (community, hobby, a movement/cause)
- Work I care about
The point of life is to find your gifts and then share them with the world. I believe everyone has special talents and skills that can improve the lives of others. Figuring out what brings you joy and being grateful and appreciative for what you can do to to make the world a better place gives your life meaning and purpose. There are so many ways to contribute and give back that enrich your life by helping others. I find the more you give the more you get.
Andrew Taylor, Director – Net Lawman
I think, for me, the amalgamation of my life experiences, choices and desires seemed to slowly bring me onto this path that once I stepped on, just whisked me away like a roller coaster.
So to put it into context: I have always been interested in building businesses. Combining my experience over the years with my skills as a lawyer and what I saw during my practice years meant that I was confident and prepared to build a business on my own.
I have always been capable and interested in computers, even when the thought of a PC was unheard of, back in those days. So making an innovative move online was just a natural step for me.
As you can see, you combine your skills, you combine your passions and you find that path that is uniquely yours.
I believe having a mentor is somewhat critical, it is very difficult to do it yourself. When you find the right mentor, you know. Don’t go and throw money at someone who doesn’t quite do it for you, because you won’t get those results that you expect to see.
David Reischer, Esq, Attorney & CEO – LegalAdvice.com
Purpose comes from a commitment to be excellent at everything that I do. Being competitive applies to all tasks both large and small. As a practicing attorney it is a never ending journey to learn new things and to become more expert with each passing year. A dedication to excellence is a journey that requires both passion and commitment to learning new stuff and improving upon old ideas. Whether I am drafting a motion or negotiating a real estate contract there are always ways to improve both the process and the completed work product. Honing my legal skills requires a dedication to be the best lawyer possible. Taking my career path seriously and finding new ways to generate business is an ongoing challenge that requires strong mental energy. I find purpose in building a business that I can be proud that can one day be passed onto my beautiful children.
Jason Akatiff, Co-Founder, Boundery
Early in my career, I got the opportunity to work as a speaker for Tony Robbins which was a stepping stone to me finding my purpose in life. Tony taught me to focus on the why!. Ask yourself what is your why in life? What makes you happy? What do you enjoy doing? What could you do every day for the rest of your life and not get bored? For me, I discovered pretty early on that I love to build things. I love building systems from the beginning to end that help to solve a problem. Once I solve that problem by using my development skills, I immediately move on to the next challenge. I don’t thrive in repetitive environments. I like to constantly feel challenged and learn. The only way you will get to the point of knowing your calling is by trying a variety of jobs. Once you get a taste of different positions, you will naturally gravitate towards what you’re passionate about.
Geninna Ariton, Communications Specialist – Trendhim
There is no straight path towards your calling. For me, it was a series of circumstances, needs, and proper timing. I graduated with a pediatric nursing degree but I hated the job. So while working as a pediatric nurse, I did a side job with more enthusiasm – writing. It paid more and I realized I was good at it. But since I didn’t have the writing degree, it was just a side job for me. And because I hated working in a hospital, I changed my profession to preschool teaching. My first job abroad was a hotel nurse and because I have a background with kids, they gave me a Kids Club position – which I enjoyed more.
This was how I transitioned to being a preschool teacher, a profession that I enjoyed far longer than being a nurse. And then I gave birth to twins. I was still on my long maternity leave when the Covid-19 lock-down ensued, which meant no school and no work for me. This was when I revisited my writing career. Don’t get me wrong, I never stopped writing. Even if it was a small job here and there, it was always something that I did. Now, I made it front and center and I couldn’t be happier. The pay is way better than staying in a classroom with toddlers, I get to work from home and control my schedule which comes as a plus having twin boys around. And it’s something that I can see myself doing for a long time.
John Kenny – John Kenny Coaching
I had no idea what I wanted to do as I grew up and then I found athletics and became an international athlete. Once this was over I had no idea what I was going to do and ended up becoming a gym manager to stay in sport/fitness.
Along my journey I discovered psychology and then did nothing with this.
I became a fire-fighter aged 30 and after a couple of years realised I didn’t want to do this either.
I went back to psychology when I was 33 and trained as a therapist.
This led me into coaching and this has now become my passion and purpose.
Mostly because I lived with very unhealthy relationships throughout my life and now, with my expertise in this area, I help people to live their healthiest relationships possible.
I found something that helped me make a fundamental difference to people, based on my own experiences and training, that I came across through trial and error, but pursuing my why.
I knew I wanted to serve people, as I had all of my working life, but I needed to find the vehicle that I connected with, where I could speak from a place of understanding and make the most impact.
Michael Ahearn, Certified Addiction Recovery Coach – Mountainside Treatment Center
I grew up playing hockey, basketball, and lacrosse, and I am an avid sports fan. Mental health – the field I now work in and my true passion – was never something I was taught or spoken to about. But after a sports injury, I found myself addicted to opioids. Making my mental health a priority became critical to me getting sober. Usually, someone like me does not work in the mental health field, but I checked my judgments against myself and said, why not? And, I love it.
I went from being in active addiction to telling my family they need to eat healthier and exercise more. I became a recovery coach because I knew I wanted to bring something different to the mental health field. Coaching provides me with the ability to utilize my personal battle with addiction and the hard work and dedication it took to sustain my 6.5 years of continued sobriety to help others in similar situations. When it comes to finding our purpose, I think we all feel it, but we tend to subscribe to norms or have biases. It’s important to ask ourselves, why not?
Anthony Bianco, Travel Writer and Blogger – The Travel Tart
At the end of 1994 when I was 21 (I’m now 47), I had a life changing experience when I was diagnosed with a rare ‘primary mediastinal germ cell tumour’, in my chest area. This was a 1 in 10 million chance, and it almost killed me as the tumour was quite advanced at the time of diagnosis – 11 centimetres across and 15 centimetres down (I have some great before and after x-rays!).
I had just finished university, but then went straight into the chemo ward for 3 months of chemotherapy from hell. I’m lucky to be alive – my doctor didn’t think I was going to make it (at best, a 20:80 chance of surviving). See more at https://www.thetraveltart.com/primary-mediastinal-nonseminomatous-germ-cell-tumour-survivor/ – I set this page up deliberately so that I end up high in the search results for people looking for survivors like myself of this rare cancer.
From this experience, I knew the true meaning of the phrase ‘life is short’ and I have deliberately pursued going after the things I want to experience in life. There are many parallels of cancer survivorship with other traumatic events like a car accident like survivors guilt, anxiety etc. I actually found the post treatment phase of the cancer more emotionally difficult to deal with than the actual treatment itself.
This experience is never going to leave me. It hasn’t left me for over 25 years. It changed everything for me forever and it’s shaped all of my beliefs and attitudes. But I’ve done a lot of good with the knowledge and lessons that I learnt from this experience (as far as I’m concerned, a bad experience only becomes a negative one if you don’t learn from it).
I worked at a cancer charity for a while on their helpline as a way of ‘giving back’ and a lot of the emotions I experienced all became clear when I found out the reasons behind them were all normal.
I wondered for a long time why something like this happened to me. I believe things happen for a reason, even if you don’t see it at the time. One day in 2009, the reason hit me like a tonne of bricks. My cousin rang me late at night to tell me she had been diagnosed with a non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (a primary mediastinal version). She was in her mid thirties at the time, and had a husband and 3 young children to deal with.
I couldn’t believe that 15 years later, I was reliving what I went through with someone who was close to me. I was able to help her out every step of the way because I knew what to do at each stage, and had done all of the stumbling for her. She told me later that every piece of advice I had given her was relevant and helped her out. She swears to me that I saved her life because if she hadn’t seen me go through what I went through, she would have never had thought of going to the doctor and asking for a chest X-ray at the time that she did. I keep telling her that the doctors and chemo saved her life, but she keeps telling me otherwise. I thought, if I had to go through that crap to save her life, then it was worth it.
And with that page I mentioned previously, I’ve had 15 people contact me over 2 years so I can offer them them support. It’s confronting when some of these people pass away, but even though I’m on the other side of the world sometimes (in Australia), I’ll help any way I can.
My purpose in life came very early to me. My parents argued quite a bit when I was younger. I realized that while they loved me, they didn’t know how to listen well, because they were so involved on being right. As a result, I decided when I was about 10 years old to become a teacher, a teacher not only to share information, but also to be able to listen to my students and to care about them as individuals instead of masses of people needing to learn and to earn their grades.
The end result was that I was able to make a difference individually with multitudes of students. I became a mentor teacher. I became the high school teacher of the year for our district. While I was honored to become these things, what was much more important was to listen to my students, to care about them, and to make a difference by being there for them.
To this very day, I am still connected with 1,000s of my former students on Facebook, because I care about them, and they care about me.
Having a purpose in life can result of inspiration or out of desperation. No matter how your purpose has originated, it may take time along with patience, although one’s purpose will appear. It is also very important to be kind and to be patient with yourself so that your purpose will appear as well.
Adam Smith, Travel Blogger – Adam’s Apple: The World
Back in 2013, I was in a really dark place personally. I came to a realization I was depressed and could not understand why. Something was clearly missing in my life, but what?
It turns out that something was travel. I was so mesmerized & awestruck the first moment I stepped foot in Taiwan. From that moment on, I knew what I was meant to do in this world. Since that time, I have learned many life lessons from travel.
Everyone’s calling in life is different. The way to find it is be brutally honest with yourself. Running from your problems will only delay the inevitable and actually set you back.
In addition, it is critical you bring yourself out of your comfort zone; often times, this is just a facade. When I traveled to the other side of the world, I found that getting out of my own comfort zone was the most uplifting feeling of all.
Lastly, don’t go through the motions in life. Break up your daily habits, and turn off the TV. Ask yourself, “Am I really living my life, or am I just accepting it?”
Snezhina Piskova, Tech and Gadget Reviewer – 10Beasts
I am one of the lucky 23-year-olds that have actually discovered their true calling at an earlier age. Most of my peers struggle with finding exactly what their thing is but I have confirmed for myself that sometimes, what is more important, is to take a step back to see the bigger picture.
This can be as simple as making people smile.
I discovered my sharp-tongue and cheeky personality when I was still a student – it was never hard for me to entertain the people around me. It is remarkable how quickly a frown can turn upside down with a few right words. There is so much negativity around the world, like world hunger, climate change, ongoing pandemics, that I feel certain importance in bringing joy and light into people’s lives. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing someone’s eyes light up and the edges of their lips curl up. I never know what day the person has had and how much he needed those good vibes – so I always place empathy first and try to brighten their day, even a little bit.
Stephanie Thoma, Confident Introvert – StephanieThoma.com
I started my career journey not knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I noticed my aunt growing up. She worked in banking and was always wearing skirt suits, and I decided early on that’s what I wanted to do- climb the corporate ladder. I was a first-generation college student and applied for internships afterward, then it was time to transition into the corporate world. I began working as an admin at a natural snack startup, then moved into business development at a user research firm. Within eight months of starting my new role, my position was eliminated, and I had a choice to make: move in with family and collect myself emotionally and financially after being stripped of what had become a central point of pride and my identity, or continue to live in the most expensive city in the US, San Francisco, and figure it out on the fly. I ended up applying for jobs in between prolonged naps, feeling depressed and lethargic, but at the same time, somewhat hopeful.
Within a few weeks, I secured a part-time role as a nightlife researcher through UCSF, and then transitioned into fulltime celebrity blogging and ghostwriting at an LA-based startup. After that, I transitioned into full-time market research recruitment, traveling around the US to chat people up in real life and have them participate in high-paying niche focus groups (think niche demographics like Catholic priests and traveling republicans in San Francisco). Eventually, I was welcomed as a career coach on a few career platforms, leveraging the skills I’d honed in resume curation through applying to and getting countless roles. From there, I continued to career coach as I began building community in San Francisco through networking events and speaker series. I hosted over 1,000 events and when it came a time that a friend asked me to speak at her meetup, I decided to merge two key aspects of myself: building a network (everybody knew this) and doing it as an introvert (nobody knew this).
After debuting the workshop to 60 people at a WeWork, I had two inbound clients, and from there was invited to tour the workshop across the US and internationally. I also wrote my first book, Confident Introvert, in the same year. Confident Introvert came out June 15, 2020, and is all about honing an unshakable sense of self-worth that cannot be taken away from you and honoring the way you show up in the world while caring for your energy. I used to break a sweat and have my voice crack and heart pound when it was my turn to introduce myself in a group, and now, 1,000 events later, it’s second nature. I love to teach the underpinnings of reducing anxiety to make way for confidence to then allow us to make connections. My background as a career coach, and most recently, certified hypnotherapist, lends itself to this holistic focus in business. The pandemic has let us know more than ever that the divide between how we show up personally and professionally is a facade. We are the same person, and there’s no need for an alter ego when you know who you are, and express that truth confidently.
Donny Gamble, Founder – RetirementInvestments.com
I have led an interesting life thus far as a Serial Entrepreneur, Digital Nomad, Author, and more. I’ve truly been lucky to have these experiences, be happy, and even find success, but it wasn’t all easy.
I came across these experiences by jumping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I said yes to opportunities that were presented to me and looked for ways to exceed where I was in life. At times I felt like backing away from something, but I forced myself to go through with it and take things as they came. Sometimes it would work out and it would be a good experience and other times they didn’t go so well. But by trying new things, I gave myself an opportunity to prosper.
Through all of these experiences, I was able to find things I love and really start enjoying life to the fullest. I was so busy that I ditched the things I didn’t enjoy and dive headfirst into the things I really liked. I kept feeling happier with where my life was heading and I couldn’t get enough of this lifestyle.
Eventually, I finally started my first business and officially became an entrepreneur. It was like no experience I’d ever had before and I was completely hooked. To this day, I still get that same rush as a business owner and I am officially a ‘serial’ Entrepreneur. I found my purpose in life when I became an Entrepreneur and I feel like I will be founding companies for a long time to come until the next experience comes along!
Sonya Schwartz, Founder – Her Norm
As someone who owns a dating website, I think that I have found my purpose in life by all the experiences I have had. As someone who has had my share of misfortunes when it comes to matters of the heart, I know that people who suffer the same fate would want another soul to help them. Because of this, I have made it my life’s purpose to provide actionable dating and relationship advice to help them, because I know that going through this is not easy. When I started receiving feedback on how my advice has helped them find their “The One”, I knew that this is really my purpose and that I was not wrong when I chose to help other people. This is because the fulfillment I get for every person I was able to help is priceless.
My advice to those who are still lost, not knowing what their purpose is yet, is to not look too far. Search inside yourself, your experiences, your dreams, and aspirations, because your purpose might just lay in there, waiting to be discovered. Before you go look in other places, examine yourself thoroughly because you might miss what’s already in there all along.
While I know that I have already found my purpose, I am still not calling off the search. I believe that like almost everything in life, our purpose can also change over time, so I am not stopping, not yet, not any time soon.
Ron Blake – Blake Late Show
I found my purpose in life with something so simple. A joke. It all began with a moment of laughter I had on a suicidal night. I found hope. I struggled badly with PTSD from a trauma.
I decided to use that laughter to get to a symbolic goal. I was going to become a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. That show made me laugh on that fateful night.
I started pushing myself out of my home each day. Meeting strangers. Telling them my story. Then having them sign support on giant poster boards for my efforts to get to this goal.
This helped me learn to engage society again after isolating beyond the trauma.
But something unexpected happened. People began sharing stories of traumas and triumphs with me. My purpose evolved each day.
I’ve become an expert on this topic. While helping many survivors.
A Senate Judiciary Committee had me testify before them to help pass a trauma survivor bill. I have spoken about PTSD awareness at 27 colleges. I gave a TEDx talk about overcoming trauma.
Now I’ve met 32,059 total strangers one by one during this five-year cross-country journey.
A massive collective story of hope and support has been created on 494 giant poster boards. I will someday deliver this to The Late Show and help people see nobody is alone after trauma.
We often miss those simple moments that will introduce us to our purpose in life. Something like…a moment of laughter.
Kris Lal, CEO & founder – Curatorsocial
I spent 6 years as one of the highest earning sales managers in the luxury division in my 20’s, the trajectory was clear and I was headhunted for a role with a top corporate in NY 2015 which would have doubled my earnings when things crashed to a halt. My grandfather and father passed away within months of each other making me question EVERYTHING I was doing in life at that point in my career.
I was at my grandfather’s bedside as he breathed his last breath, and from that moment I realized I needed to honor and respect EVERY breath I would take from there on. My life’s purpose was found through the loss of life itself, my dream was to start and run my own business, so what was I waiting for?. I haven’t looked back since and live each day with unbounded joy and fulfilment in what I do, no pay packet could match the feeling of being the master of your own destiny in my book.
Martin Seeley, Chief Executive Officer – MattressNextDay
As a business owner, I have always known that I like to have my own company, but I did not know that it was exactly my purpose. And to be honest, it is not easy to find one’s purpose. I think the best tip I can give for anyone who has not yet found their purpose is to be open to all opportunities. Never close your doors just yet, because you won’t be able to find what you’re here for if you only have limited views. As for me, right now, I think I have already found my purpose, which is to help other people get the best sleep there is – because I know how important this is for everyone’s health and overall well being.
And while for now, I know that this is my purpose, I am still open to knowing more in this life, and so I would gladly accept if reality bites one day and I awaken to find that I have a new purpose. Also, another thing, I think that one’s purpose doesn’t have to be confined in a single purpose. You can have multiple purposes at the same time, which is why, again, you should not close doors and limit yourself to only what you can see right now. Life is full of surprises and your purpose might just be one.
Dr. Omiete Charles-Davies
We are all shaped differently and have various interests. A simple tip to finding your purpose is to look at your strengths, what you do better than most people around you then probe further on how you can make a career out of that.
When I was in high school, I was very excellent in science, maths, and other subjects that required calculations. I am a very inquisitive person.
However, due to my high grades, I chose to study medicine.
In medical school, I realized that it was a bit boring, not much calculation and not much innovation was going on, so I thought to merge my passion for innovation with my medical knowledge.
I graduated from medical school, started practicing as a doctor, and began to work on different health startups. I currently own and run onedoctor.app, a health information brand that owns sites like 25doctors.com and the Instagram page: 25doctors.
The secret to finding your purpose is to focus on your strengths and leverage your experience.
Ruggero Loda, Founder – Running Shoes Guru
I found my purpose in life completely by accident… Or so it seemed at the time. Now I run a business with 20+ employees and freelancers around that same life purpose! I’d love to share my journey with you and the readers.
What I used to do
I used to work for Reebok. It was a cushy job, I loved the brand and I enjoyed being around sportswear and sports products all the time. I’d always loved running – and now I was helping create and market products that other runners loved. Win-win!
What happened then is that I lost my job to downsizing. To be honest, I didn’t have a plan for what came next – and something completely unexpected happened.
Recognizing my passion and purpose
Like I said, I have always been into running. And after Reebok, I had some experience working with sports wear and equipment. So I decided to make some product reviews to showcase my passion and my subject expertise for my next employer.
This was the turning point. Since I was so driven by the topic, I really put my best effort into those first reviews. Since this was circa 2010, Google quickly started sending some traffic my way – and soon, hundreds of runners were checking out my content.
Needless to say, the content became popular quickly and I started getting a torrent of requests for more of it. The second I went all-in on what I felt really excited about, I found the support I needed to turn what I was doing into a business.
Key lessons learned in hindsight
Now that I look back, I think my journey was typical for many entrepreneurs.
First, I found a fit between my passion and what other people liked. I could create content and I understood sportswear; I also knew what runners look for. So I made some blog posts on the subject.
Second, I actually published what I’d been working on. I think this is where most people get stuck. Like Seth Godin likes to say, they don’t press the “launch” button.
Third, I kept with what I was doing after getting a little initial traction. Everything else, my readers took care of. All I had to do was give them a way to help me monetize what I was doing (via affiliate services).
Nooria Khan, Outreach Consultant – Infinity Recovery
Finding a purpose in life is every human being’s goal. All through our lives our thinking keeps evolving and so does our purpose in life, when a person achieves one thing that purpose changes, and thus our priorities also change on how to achieve something in life. Everything is in a state of flux, nothing is static anymore, our experiences shape our reality. Growing up we all go through experiences that shape our understanding of the world around us and those experiences morph our perceptions about every decision we take in life. To truly find purpose in life people tend to go through religion or simply adhere to some code of conduct. Whereas in my opinion, one can truly understand the purpose of life by following ways:
- Become spiritually awakened, as spirituality brings out one’s true face. When we actually recognize our one true self then that is the datum point to launch one’s thinking and get active, to know what we truly want to do in life i.e. begin to understand life.
- One can find purpose in life by reading about existentialism, or just by gaining a lot of knowledge.
- One should check where one’s thinking is inclined then maneuver through situations accordingly.
- Learning about history, current events can assist a person to carefully articulate one’s purpose in life.
- It’s all about hit and trial no one has ever actually found their purpose in life at a young age.
- Finding one’s purpose is a struggle all through one’s life. What one can do through this journey is to prioritize not to compromise on being happy and living a stress-free life.
- Generally, people find peace and purpose in serving humanity, because of the positive energy this brings, they do so by getting into professions i.e doctors, philanthropists, etc.
Oliver Bravo – Best Lawsuit Loans LLC
Until my late 20s, I had not found my purpose in life. While all my high school classmates had gone on to start their careers and families, I will still struggling to find out what it is I want to do. I believe all people know their true calling in life, but they are too preoccupied with what other people think. This fear of judgment causes your mind to become clouded. When you have all these other voices in your head telling you what you should like, you start living in a life of denial, denying what you actually enjoy. For the better part of my 20s, I pursued law school. I took the LSAT, and got into a prestigious law school. I even attended the school for two years. I did all this because I thought that’s what my parents wanted me to do. Then one day I decided to be honest with myself and admit that I am not following my dreams.
This leads me to my next point. You need to be honest with yourself and if you’re in the wrong path, the first step is to admit it. Just like in AA meetings they tell the alcoholics the first step to overcome your problems is by admitting that you have a problem. Then I tried different things, I worked as a server at a restaurant, then at an accounting firm, then as an IT guy at a Fortune 500 company. From all these experiences I realized I find running my own business the most rewarding. So to summarize: 1) Be honest with yourself. You know what you like. Don’t pretend to like something when you actually like something else. 2) Work in different fields and see which one you find most rewarding.
Allan Borch, Founder & CEO – Dotcom Dollar
Clocking in 80 hours a week at my first job out of university for nearly a year. I’m a civil engineer but the gruelling work schedule on that construction job made me realize that I wasn’t cut out for this kind of career and environment. I needed work-life balance.
That was my wakeup call. It gave me the drive to start my own business.
I discovered my purpose through months of introspection but what I’ve come to realize along the way is that our drive, our motivation is cyclical. It’s always shifting and needs to be defined and refined constantly. What keeps you driven is a basic understanding of yourself and the company you keep, as well as being more creative with the idea of “success.”
So, whether you realize your drive is to start an online business or work your way up the corporate ladder, it needs to make sense. However, you must also reevaluate and be flexible with your motivations. Really be honest with yourself here about what makes you tick.Bottom line: Finding your life’s purpose takes time may be a happy accident, but you need to constantly work at keeping that drive high.
Peter Urey – Fearless Consulting Ltd
Saw a Meetup advertised for career choices.
Went along and it was actually a demonstration about a particular type of coaching – Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling.
Had previously messed up my Law Degree from Oxford, lost my first job after 6 months and struggled on in a variety of Sales roles with no goal other than money
The Meet up initially added nothing to my search for a purpose.
All seemed very “hippy” as we were asked to talk about “what we would like to have happen” and describe it inmetaphor.
Felt this wasted my time then one day (several months later) out of the blue the significance of my metaphor hit me whilst idly walking along.
It all made sense.
My original metaphor contained the clues to guide my ever present yearning for purpose.
It was all about reconnecting with others in a non-competitive way.
As it happened I was motivated to retrain and now work with dyslexic adults and help them with workplace skills.
It is not as financially rewarding as sales work but the sense of contribution to helping others makes up for that.
John Howard, CEO – Coupon Lawn
We all want to find our purpose in this life. Some people would share the special gifts that set them apart from others and some people help each other to accomplish bigger things. As a CEO, I believe my purpose is to also help others. In my own little way, I know that I am able to help other people by giving them jobs that help them get through with their everyday life, especially in these trying times. Here are 3 things I did in my early life to help me realize my real purpose in life.
I read books. Someone told me before that reading connects us to people, it even lets us travel in time and space. I believe it made me realize what I want to be doing for the rest of our lives. Reading different kinds of books also helps to discover different things about ourselves which leads us to our true calling.
Listening to others. You can also find your purpose in what people thank you for.. For instance, I helped someone to get back on their feet after they encountered difficulty and that changed their life completely. They thanked me for that and even said they owe me their lives. So, when things like that happen, you will just realize your purpose.
Look for people with common interests. When you find the people that share your interest, try and find out what you could do to help and improve everything around you to find your calling.
Bren, Blogger – brenontheroad.com
One thing that has helped me find my purpose more than anything else is solitude. When I left home to travel the world in 2011, I found myself alone a lot. Flights, train rides, bus rides, even just spending entire weeks alone in new cities. Of course this was expected, but what I didn’t expect was how much it would change me. When you’re at home, any time you have an idea, any time you’re about to make a decision that is significant, there’s always someone commenting – your parents, your girlfriend, your workmates, your siblings.
Whether we realize it or not, in today’s world our decisions are decided as much by other people as they are by ourselves. But for once I didn’t have anyone constantly my side, watching my every move, commenting on my every decision. Removing myself from the bubble that was home allowed me to finally think freely for once. I spent a lot of time with myself, talking to myself, listening to myself, and without any outside noise, things became clearer very quickly. I now believe finding our purpose isn’t difficult. It’s just that modern life makes it so. But give yourself solitude, whether that means meditation, or moving to a new town, or travelling, and watch things fall into place. Some people call this “finding yourself”. I just call it, going away to a place where everyone else has finally shut the f*ck up long enough for you to think. Finding your purpose in life becomes a lot clearer when that happens.
Ryan M. Sheade, LCSW, Founder and Licensed Psychotherapist – Integrated Mental Health Associates
Our purpose shows up when we show up in our own lives. I found my purpose through “doing my own work” in therapy. At 19, I was lost and ready to drop out of college – but I decided to see a therapist first. I took out my Mom’s “benefits book,” opened to the page with providers in my city, closed my eyes, and pointed to the page. I started seeing that therapist that I pointed to in 1998 and 22 years later, I will still go in for a “piece of work” occasionally. But that decision, to get help from someone senior to me with more life experience, was literally life-changing. The key to the whole thing, however, was that I was invested in myself and willing to do the work of learning, and growth, and change. It’s been said that “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” When working with young adults as a therapist myself now, I find that I consistently challenge them to make changes, say yes to things they normally wouldn’t, and face the fear of trying things they may not initially be good at. Our purpose shows up when we show up – so if you want to find your purpose, show up.
Thomas McGee, Pinch Spice Market
I was 33, in an IT job I hated.. I was supposed to be happy. I went to college for this and worked my way up to a well-paying job, but it all left me feeling unfulfilled. I needed a change. I started a job search looking for another company to work for, but nothing in my field of expertise was doing it for me. It was all the same, and I was done with it.
One day it hit me, there’s nothing stopping me from creating my own job. I didn’t have much to risk, I was young’ish and didn’t have a mortgage hanging over my head yet. With determination and a lot of hard work, I could be my own boss doing something I loved. For me, it was obvious that had to include cooking and BBQ’ing, two things I spent a lot of time doing when I wasn’t working..
I dove into research to determine what kind of business in those fields had the most opportunity – something that could be relatively easy and low cost to start, become profitable, and would be easy to scale. Restaurants were expensive and risky, so I focused on food product instead. After a few more weeks of intense research, I realized spices were my perfect answer.
Most spices I grabbed in the store tasted old and dusty (I later learned they’re often harvested 1-2 years or more before they reach the shelf). Plus, it was difficult to find spices that weren’t filled with chemicals or fillers like flour. I wanted spices that would bring life to my cooking. I knew I could find high quality organic spices that tasted way better, and I could find a way to source them ethically (most spice companies force farmers into poverty so they can make as much profit as possible). I quickly decided I’d only source fair and direct trade because it was the right thing to do, and because it would be a unique value proposition for people who cared about buying ethically sourced products, a growing industry.
The next steps included a lot of work, including finding the right original business partner to help me finance the dream and get things rolling. In 2011 it all came together, and Pinch Spice Market was born. It was challenging starting a business from scratch, but I liked being kept on my toes and learning new things about spice farming and growing a business in general.
The business has evolved over time, and I’ve genuinely loved every step of the way – even when I had to learn some painful first-timer lessons. I’m doing what I love while helping organic farmers thrive. I have found my place.
Rob Wolf, Radiologist, Author, Day Trader
I became interested in science and math since 8th grade. My mom nearly finished medical school and my dad was a physician, and he just loved what he did. He always told me to do it for the love of the career and people, not for the money. Growing up in medicine was the only thing I knew, the only thing that I cared about. With my parents’ unbelievable love and support, I became a neuroradiologist. Now, semiretired and working from home, I have converted my dad’s autobiography into a biography, The Hungarian Papillon: Navigating the Holocaust and Beyond, now in the 6th round of editing. This project has become my new calling, and I hope to have it at least self-published before the end of next year. My parents have both passed away, but this book will be their legacy.
I had no idea what they had been through until I had graduated medical school. The book is a harrowing and true story of my father’s multiple escapes from the Nazis, their WWII Hungarian quislings, and the post-war Soviet occupiers. He endured persecution, hatred, two wars, and unimaginable adversity. He lived through the Holocaust and the Hungarian Revolution, ultimately escaping to the USA. Settling in the Detroit area, he lived a long and fruitful life as an OB/GYN, delivering more than 50,000 babies in an otherwise shortened career. His undying optimism included his ceaseless desire for family connections and meaningful, fulfilling work, especially following his return home after WWII.
I found my calling and switched careers over 2 years ago. I was working as a journalist and editor and felt extremely burnt out, and switched to acting and modeling full-time. I discovered that entertainment was my passion when I was pursuing it as a side hobby.
My advice for those who are unsure of their purpose or true calling is to try out a bunch of things they may be interested in, and pay attention to what work that doesn’t “feel like work” — if what you’re doing makes you feel energized and excited, it’s likely something you should continue to pursue. If instead, you dread the work, or it makes you feel overwhelmed or low-spirited, it may not be for you.
David Essel, M. S. O.M
How did you find your purpose in life, your true calling?
One of the most important quests that We are all on in life is to find out the purpose of why we are here.
So, why are you here?
What are your passions? What are your strengths ? What are your gifts? What your talents?
Most of us have no clue, or a minimal clue of why were here, what our powerful traits are, and what direction we should be moving in.
So the first exercise is going to be for you to write the answers to the questions above, and then the second exercise is I want you to take these very questions and give it to your family, best friends, if you have a partner give it to your partner, and ask them to answer the questions above.
Many times, people around us see our strengths, our passions, our gifts and talents Much more easily than we do. And if we struggle with low self-confidence or low self-esteem, the odds of ever recognizing our gifts, talents and passions may never, ever arise!
People with low self-confidence and low self-esteem have a tendency to put themselves down, if not in public in their own mindset, limiting their ability to succeed in life and sabotaging many of their hopeful goals.
In my case, I knew my whole life I was a leader, I knew I always wanted to be in charge, but I had no clue of what direction to go in. Playing sports in high school, and then two years of basketball at Syracuse University, absolutely increased my confidence and self-esteem, but after my two years of playing, I was lost! Once the basketball career was over I kept thinking, who am I? Why am I here? What’s the purpose of going to school if I can’t do what I love most… Playing basketball?
I ended up Transferring to a smaller school to play my final two years, but I had to sit out my first year and to be honest with you I lost my passion for basketball. That was it. I still played recreationally but sitting on the sidelines for 12 months watching everyone else play was quite demoralizing for me personally. Many other athletes do it on a regular basis but it just didn’t work for me.
So I finished my undergraduate degree, still not having a clue of what to do, and went out into the world to work… Where I met my first real mentor, Richard Gerson who passed away unfortunately, and he told me that with my drive, my personality that I could be one of the top motivational speakers in the world!
And then he told me : “if you want to do that, you’ve got to go back to school and get your masters degree in sports psychology, and marketing and then let’s talk about taking your career to the next level.”
From that moment on, my focus has been amazing. The first six years after getting my masters agree I traveled the world 40 weeks a year is a motivational speaker, and then I decided to go heavily in the sport psychology counseling athletes and then that led me into counseling every day people with relationship issues, financial challenges, weight challenges, addiction issues, career choices… So for the past 30 years I’ve been a counselor, motivational speaker and number one best-selling author… But it took me a long time to find my real purpose in life.
These days, on average, individuals may change their careers six, eight, or even 10 times in their lifetime… As they try to find their pathway to internal and external success.
The number one piece advice I could give you? Make sure you have mentors, counselors, coaches around you to help you make the best decisions in life.
Don’t rely on your own internal guide post, especially until you’re 40 or 50 years of age, we need the wisdom of people older than us to help guide us to the reality of why were here, what our purpose is and how we can maximize our time on earth.
I know, by following the above tips, you can find an amazing purpose for yourself as well. Start today.
Dr Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT
I am a licensed clinical psychologist. I am also a singer/songwriter. If someone were to ask me if I were a psychologist or a musician, my answer would be, “Yes!”
What allows me to answer in such a mysterious way, has to do with what these two avenues share in common:
catharsis, a process of getting out that which would otherwise remain bottled up inside.
Growing up on the prairies of Saskatchewan, in a sheltered, religious home, led me to an observation. While the people I tended to interact with were principled; had close familial ties; had a good work ethic and tended to be grounded in common sense, many, including myself, at times, did not feel free to openly express their innermost thoughts and feelings.
My vision, my purpose, and my calling, grew out of this observation, an observation of what I now call expression deprivation. I developed a growing desire to fill the void, to be an example of free, open, creative expression—to become a rockin’ role model, if you will.
Given that religion was emphasized a great deal in my family of origin, I also felt called, for a time, to be a minister. But it became increasingly apparent to me that, the world was rife with speakers, including preachers, and that there was a conspicuous lack of professional listeners. Accordingly, I started to entertain the thought of becoming a psychologist. After all, besides the opportunity to become a great listener, it would be another avenue in which I could help the world to become a more expressive place, one patient at a time.
A psychology class I took as a High School senior sealed the deal for me, and once I made up my mind, and looked into the requirements, I pursued that academic avenue at full speed.
After I graduated with my Ph.D., I immediately began looking for a job. Having grown up on the prairies of Saskatchewan, a province in midwestern Canada, I was looking forward to becoming a big city psychologist. I ended up being hired in 1991, as a registered psychologist by Porterville Youth Incorporated, in the small, rural community of Porterville, California.
I had to switch gears in my mind, and find a way to relate and communicate to my patients, many of whom were farmers. I drew from my prairie roots and wrote a song to win them over. It was called…
Psychological Cowboy – Original song by Dr Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT © 1990, 2020
The song certainly won the parents over, and that was important, because family therapy was a big part of working with these kids.
However, I soon discovered that the kids, though mostly rural, were a little less into country music, and they were mostly into the pop/rap that was in style that was popular at that time—-with artists like MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice and C&C Music Factory. So, fortunately I had previously penned and recorded my own brand of “rap”—-shrink rap. Being a shrink, eager to find a connection with these young people, I started a music therapy group, with this as a theme song:
Shrink Rapped – Original song by Dr Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT © 1990, 2020
Being a registered psychologist in California
is kind of like being a step between being a psychology intern, and being a licensed clinical psychologist. Once I earned that professional license, I resigned from that position, in Porterville, in hopes of combining private practice and teaching psychology classes into one career.
That combination worked for awhile. I got soon married, and established a practice practice at two locations—-one in Beverly Hills and the other in Calabasas, California.
All the while, I kept writing and producing original music, which increasingly drew from my role as a psychologist, and I periodically, introduced psychologically-based themes into my writing.
Private practice, though rewarding on many levels, became more mundane when managed care began to take over. Also, I was looking for that steady paycheck with benefits.
I eventually began working for California Department of Corrections, and I remained there, working with prison inmates and parolees for over twenty years.
All the while, I continued to teach in colleges and universities. I continued to use music, including some of my own original music, as both a teaching tool, and a therapeutic intervention medium.
About 1 1/2 years ago, following years of providing psychotherapy and music therapy to prison inmates and parolees, I retired from the California Department of Corrections.
I am presently working as a psychologist at a community health clinic in San Diego, California. My wife and I have a lovely, talented, charming 15-year-old daughter.
Like her dad, she plays music, sings and writes her own songs. Like her mom, she is also a brilliant artist, who loves to draw and paint. I dabble a little in that myself and now design my own CD covers. She also loves to write fiction stories. That reminds me that my calling also includes my wife and my daughter.
I have released 5 full-length CDs in the past nine months. I released an album called Assault with a Deadly Woman, on July 4, 2020. I plan to release another CD, on iTunes and Spotify on Labor Day, September 7, 2020. It’s called Trailer Park Shrink. The title track tells a story of a Beverly Hills psychologist that left the big city to move into, and hang up his shingle at a trailer park in Mobile, Alabama.
To illustrate how I combine my profession as a psychologist, with my role as a singer/songwriter, I offer this link to an original song that draws from my experience in working with runaway and homeless youth. It’s called Teen, in Between.
Teen, in Between – Original song by Dr Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT © 1995, 2020
Bryan Mattimore, Cofounder and Chief Idea Guy – Growth Engine Innovation Agency
A simple trick I created to help younger people find their purpose in life is to ask them what their five favorite movies of all time are. It’s remarkable that this simple question can help reveal their personal life themes, motivations and loves…. which can then be used to help them identify their true purpose in life.
After identifying their five favorite movies, I then ask them to write down a short sentence to describe what, for them, each of these movies is about and/or why they love it so much.
So, for example, my five favorite movies of all time areAnimal House, Patton, All the President’s Men, Tootsie, andButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Here’s how I would describe three of them:
- Animal House is about outsiders: challenging – and eventually defeating authority/the status quo – by breaking the rules. And oh yeah, having fun in the process.
- Patton is about being a heroic individual… challenging authority, while having a deep sense of his own life’s mission and commitment to it. And being authentic about his love (of war).
- All the President’s Men for me is about working hard, working together eventually, being creatively resourceful, and never giving up in order to find answers to mysteries/problems. And of course, challenging power/authority.
What are the common themes to these very different movies? Challenging authority. Breaking rules. Willing to be an individual. Finding creative solutions to challenges. Being resourceful. Not afraid to be embarrassed. Having fun. These are certainly skills needed by an innovation consultant and author of books on ideation and innovation process… and as such very much reflect my life’s purpose: popularizing the structure of creativity!
So, this simple “favorite movie” exercise can be a great first step to help younger people identify their true purpose in life, and in the process help them discover, as Steve Jobs once said, “That your heart and intuition… somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Daniel Webb – Fit Feedback
It’s hard to point out a single event, but I’d say that trying and experimenting different jobs/activities is the key.
As young individuals, we have a really narrow scope of what life is, we form our “mental reality” based on our day to day interactions. At this age, our social circle is really small, and these people around us unconsciously influence our perception of what satisfaction is.
We grow up trying to follow a “predetermined” path without really questioning or having tried a little of the possible outcomes. We end up spending our time on expensive degrees just to arrive at the “promised job” and feel ridiculously disappointed. In my case, this was the moment when I decided to leave this path behind and start trying out different things that I thought would bring me satisfaction.
I started trying every single idea that I could afford, I started travelling and getting low paying jobs to pay for the expenses, I even spent 6 months at a Buddhist monastery.. This time helped me to meet a lot of people and see how they were living their lives, the kind of jobs they had, and the lifestyle they could afford with such jobs. Little by little, my perspective of what kind of satisfaction I wanted to achieve started to change.
Eventually a family emergency brought me back home, and I was lucky to see an opportunity to start a small business with very little investment. I started buying and selling avocado directly from the orchards. It wasn’t great at first, but it allowed me to see a path that I wanted to follow. Over the years I was able to get a small avocado orchard and finally start to experience the satisfaction that I had imagined.
We grow up having the 40-hour week as norm and feel frightened or discouraged whenever we might need to work longer hours. In my case finding and activity that I could do for long hours without feeling like it’s a job was super determining. Now between the orchard and the websites I work around 12 hours per day, 7 days a week. Even if it sounds ridiculous, I can assure you that I feel much more satisfied spending 12 hours on my stuff than drinking and partying my weekends away.
I was lucky enough to meet people that were doing something that I wanted to do, but trying out each activity was crucial. We have to work, everyone has to, the thing is to choose how we feel during those hours, we could either be uncomfortable or we could spend a bit of time finding out an activity that allows us to really feel satisfied during these work hours.
Marcos Martinez, Blogger – Men Who Brunch LLC
We all have a purpose in life. No matter where you came from or how you were raised we all have a fate that’s bigger than us. Some of us reach that goal early in our lives and for some of us it takes a lot long. It took me time to find my purpose in life which is to build a community of gay black men by providing quality content.
I was born in Brownsivlle, Brooklyn, one of the most roughest neighborhoods in New York. It’s probably, one of the roughest places on the East Coast. For that reason, I felt like I had to over emphasize my sexuality. I was in total denial that I was a gay man. It was so bad that I even made homophobic remarks against other gay men. The more I did this the more hurt I felt on the inside.
Having experienced loneliness and isolation as a black gay men urged me to seek out ways to connect with other the black gay men. I did connect with other black gay me but I felt that it wasn’t enough for me. I also wanted information and resources about how to navigate the black gay community. I had a difficult time finding that. And so I created my blog, Men Who Brunch.
On my blog you can find quality content about dating, black gay lifestyle, and gay travel, etc. This blog makes me so happy because this is something I always wanted growing up. Growing up there really wasn’t much content out there for black gay men. And now, I have a media outlet that other black gay men like myself could enjoy.
My advice for anyone in their 20s and 30s is to be your authentic self. Once that happens you can truly live your life and will feel motivated to do things outside your comfort zone. Having this blog has pushed me to grow in all areas of my life, including work and personal. So BE YOU. Once you discover yourself then you will then discover your life’s purpose.
Damian Birkel, Founder & Executive Director – Professionals In Transition® Support Group, Inc
If you are struggling to find your purpose in life, you may not have discovered the thing you are “a natural” at.
Think of the times in your life when you volunteered to lead a task. It could be from any time in your life; work; volunteer or hobby.
Write a minimum of 10 different times in your life when you did this.
- What was the task?
- What did you do to lead?
- What did you accomplish?
In all instances, you were most probably told: “You’re a natural,” or “You missed you calling.”
Now, examine all of your stories and ask:
- How did I feel when I was doing this?
- What were the common factors?
- Which of your talents did you use?
You have now determined your core talents, called your transferable skills. You feel good, rewarded, effective and productive when you focus your life around your core talents. Your life will be fulfilled. Work becomes play, and never work another day in your life.
You have found your purpose in life.
That’s how I found mine…
Dave Bowden, Founder – Irreverent Gent
My purpose in life is to be a blogger, and I found it in a pretty weird way: on an instant messaging app.
Back when I was in college in 2003, everyone I knew used MSN Messenger as their primary form of communication. (This was a few years before Facebook.) One feature MSN Messenger offered was a blog hosted on what they called MSN Spaces, a precursor to MySpace. I started sharing my thoughts almost daily on my MSN Space and it became really popular, first with my friends, then with other people on campus, then with my friends’ friends at other schools.
Back then being a blogger definitely wasn’t something I thought you could do as a job, so instead I pursued journalism and spent years as a newspaper reporter and later a magazine editor. I liked those jobs and they obviously require a similar skill set, but for whatever reason they never quite felt fulfilling enough. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but I missed the thrill of posting my unbridled thoughts online, having people weigh in and leave comments, and being able to make them laugh.
Eventually I saw a job opening for a travel company that was looking to hire a magazine editor so they could launch a travel blog. I realized this was a perfect way to get back into blogging, applied for the job, and eventually got it. I spent four years there building up their blog and felt like I had found (or re-found, as it were) my purpose.
Eventually I decided to leave that job and set out on my own. I started my own blog, Irreverent Gent, in 2015 and haven’t looked back. So my advice to anyone who feels like they haven’t found their purpose in life is to not limit yourself to thinking that “your purpose” has to be something that will satisfy other people. I didn’t pursue blogging professionally because I didn’t think it sounded like a “respectable” career choice. But in hindsight it was clearly the thing I was most passionate about, and I have to admit that I wish I had pursued it professionally a lot earlier.
Alex Willen – Cooper’s Dog Treats
I spent my 20’s working at tech startups making enterprise software in Silicon Valley, which was a fantastic experience in a lot of ways – I worked with some amazing people on challenging problems, and I was paid well for doing it. On the other hand, it was never meaningful work at all. When I met my wife, I was at a company making software for call centers (not exactly a passion of mine or something valuable to society) while she was a scientist whose team was working on a treatment to help cure spinal cord paralysis. At the time her team was treating a patient, and the treatment was effective enough that he went from being a quadriplegic to being able to move most of his body – so much so that right before we met, he threw out the first pitch at a White Sox game.
The longer we dated, the more I knew I needed to do something that I cared about with my life. I love dogs more than anything (besides my wife), so I decided to open a dog boarding business. Not quite helping quadriplegics walk again, but it would allow me to keep a few foster dogs in my facility as well as raise money for local rescues through the business. Unfortunately that failed before I opened my doors due to Covid – I was about to close my SBA loan and start construction in March when the bank called and said they were putting new loans on hold, and by the time they resumed lending in May it was pretty clear that it wasn’t a great idea to take out a large loan to open a business driven by people traveling and going into the office. I cut my losses (which were unfortunately pretty substantial by that point due to the costs of permits, plans, etc.) but decided I needed to stick with starting a business in the dog space. I started a new company, Cooper’s Treats, selling a frozen dog treat mix that I had been making for my dog, and even though it’s only been a few months, I really feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Sales are growing quickly, customer feedback is great, and if things continue at their current pace I’ll be in a position to start giving some profits to rescues and other dog-related charities by the end of the year.
I really had to see an example of someone doing something that was really important and that she was really passionate about to realize it was time for a change. I always knew enterprise software wasn’t my passion, but it was easy to just keep going and collecting the paycheck. Once I resolved to find something new, I looked at what I really cared about and was able to figure out how to make money doing something I truly care about.
Nate Battle, Coach/Speaker/Author – Battle Coaching, LLC
One way to identify if youare not on the path to get what you want out of life is if you feel emptyinside.
Having reached a point where my career was killing me, in the literal sense, feeling a void inside that was depressing at best, I realized that my best and the only real option was to walk away from a six-figure salary in pursuit of getting the most out of life and pursue my purpose and passion in life. This third time of starting over called for a total re-invention to find and pursue my true calling.
The process I used is asfollows:
The first step is to ask yourself, and honestly answer three key questions:
Q1: How do you feelright now?
You may be ok with where you’re at, but you don’t feel that fire burning desire inside, that energy to explore, seek, learn new things like you once did. You don’t feel like you are growing. You know there is more you are supposed to do with your life. These are the seeds of toxic thoughts.
Perhaps you feel hopeless and helpless to do anything about your life. Are you stuck in a rut of misery in what feels like a repeat of yesterday or last week – month – year? Do you feel like you are standing in place? Or maybe things aren’t that bad, but you know there is more to life. At this stage, recognize that the toxicity level has taken root and is growing.
When the pain of the present becomes greater than the fear of the future, that is when real change begins to take place.
It may be a job or career, a relationship, your health, or even a sense of purpose. It could also be all of these. If any of the above describes you and you haven’t changed, ask yourself,”Why not?”
Most likely, the answer is fear. The ‘Miracle Grow’ fertilizer for toxicity. Fear of the unknown, fear of what MIGHT happen. Usually, when we get so bad off that we don’t care anymore,then we become willing to change. The risk of waiting until then, however, is sinking into a deep depression or emotionally reacting in such a way that in the short term may feel good but has long-term consequences that are less than desirable.
Depression sets in, and levels increase when fueled by our expectations not being met. We get into a pattern expecting everything to happen according to our expectations when it doesn’t, we get upset. This cycle continues locking us into what I call”Expectation Prison,” and we are the only one with the key.
To reduce depression levels, you must determine to find the courage to try and change, for the better – in little steps at first. These small wins will help build your confidence to continue to grow. Whether it be learning a new skill, mastering a bad habit, working on a rebuilding a relationship or in some cases, cleaning out the storage and taking out the trash – i.e., things that you no longer need or use in your life and keeping them around will serve no purpose, take a valuable space or may even cause harm.
Q2: Who are you?
When you have nagging or even gut-wrenching sense that you have become someone other than yourself, you may have. When you feel like a facade, a phony or fake, always going into character, even around those whom you should be able to let your guard down around, there may be a problem. When you are doing something, you are not supposed to be doing and are where you are not supposed to be, you become someone you are not.
Stop and take inventory. Is this you? Who are you, really? Does what you are doing align with your passions, values, and goals, or are you just miserably plodding along, hoping things will change?
When a car becomes out of alignment, we take it in and have an adjustment made. Otherwise, we run the risk of prematurely wearing out the tires and, worse, other expensive components in the car. The same holds true with you. Why wear your heart,brain, or other vital organs out, being something you are not or doing something you hate. You get one life. You know yourself better than anyone.Chose to be you, and live the life you’ve imagined, being you!
Q3: Where are yougoing?
Do you have a clear sense of direction on where you are headed, or do you find yourself suffocating,hopelessly toiling in what you are doing? Do you feel like you are standing in place? Like there is no way out? You will not get to where you want to go by focusing on where you don’t want to be.
Pay close attention to your thoughts. They serve to help you grow or hold you back or hostage to your past.Divorce your past, fall in love, marry, and live your now into your future.
Determine to reprogram your brain. Practice this until it becomes a habit to replace every negative and toxic thought with a positive and good one. When the voice in your head brings up the past, replace that thought with thoughts of where you want to and will be in the future. This process paves the road for you to travel forward and incites action.
Once you have determined that change is needed, I recommend the following approaches to shift away from where you don’t want to be, to becoming the person you should be and living the life that you desire.
WHAT IS MY PATH ANDCALLING
In his book “Good To Great,” author Jim Collins describes what he calls the Hedgehog Concept,which is based on an ancient Greek parable. He uses this as a formula for creating sustainably great companies. This concept can also be applied to individuals.
The approach is rathersimple. First, draw three overlapping circles. Then label each one as follows:
A – what am I best/betterthan anyone else at doing
B – what am I passionateabout
C – how can I financialsupport myself doing a combination of circle A and B
Where the there circles intersect in the center is your sweet spot. If you make this your primary area of focus, your vision, drive, and goal, you stand a much higher chance and achieving not just success but sustainably great success.
This main benefit of formula is that it can lead you to your calling in life. The ripple effect of that is indescribable as it relates to life harmony and balance, fulfillment, peace, joy, and even happiness. If the center of the concentric circles benefits others, then the impact becomes off the charts in terms of the degree of positive effect both on you and those whom you cross paths.
This sort of re-invention isa life-changing event. A priceless and even life-saving one when pursued with adogged determination.
Starting over through re-invention is one of if not the most important exercise you can undertake in your life. If you’re up for the challenge, the rewards are endless.
Ralph Bryant – Black Fathers Matter Podcast
Like everyone in this situation, I spent ten months preparing to be a father. I went to breathing classes and read books, took tours of the hospital. I built a crib that nearly cost me two fingers and rubbed my now ex-wife’s feet constantly and got her orange slushes and vanilla dip donuts on demand. After two days of labour in a small room that eventually looked like a crime scene, internal organs flopping around, I was handed a yellow baby with goopy eyes, wailing like Kirk Cobain in a Seattle coffeeshop in 1990. And I felt. Nothing. I mean, zero feeling, I would have expected my cold heart to grow like The Grinch in Whoville on Christmas morning, but mine remained small and fossilized, empty like my wife’s uterus.
For most of us, being a parent is a hardwired feature of our operating system, the culmination of our life’s mission – the dream beginning with Barbie Dream Condos and white picket fences, with fathers and sons playing catch in the driveway. That father chip in me had been damaged by own relationship with my father, a man who I “saw” only in disappointing phone calls and missed appointments crossed off on the calendar. Even our true black fatherhood role model, Heathcliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show, has had to be disowned because, well, we can’t have nice things. I became an active parent at 38 years old. I had created a pretty good life for myself. I went to university, had several really good jobs, travelled the world, and now was in the middle of a great love affair with my (now ex-) wife and newborn son, both of whom I moved to another country (from the United States to Canada) to be with. Yet, I did not feel that overwhelming, all-encompassing love that everyone around me said I should feel. “God, Ralph, you seem so happy. You have come a long way.” I would throw them a smile in appeasement, to throw them off the scent, while I was slowly dying inside.
Sure, I loved my family and my mom, 2500 square feet of suburban, middle
class opulence – with a front yard AND a backyard. I literally lived in the place that was selected as Canada’s most liveable city…Burlington. I built a patio and a basement – even though I had not held a power tool until I was 40. I coached soccer and joined the PTA. Me!!! The same guy that once lived on the A train, New York City’s longest train line, for a year. Now I had reached the summit of the utopia of the TV show family-dom: two great kids, a beautiful wife, and a dog. I was the new Heathcliff Huxtable.
I had all that and I still wasn’t happy, like that deep fulfilling happiness where everyday feels like Christmas morning. I wasn’t miserable, but I wasn’t fulfilled, truly fulfilled. Because it’s easy to fall into the trap that internal fulfillment comes from being a good husband and father, having a nice house with a backyard and food in the fridge. But all that is external fulfillment – the keeping up with the Joneses. But internal fulfillment is something else, something deeper, something that you feel when you look
at yourself naked in the mirror after a shower, wiping the foam off the mirror – the person who looks back at you then. Does that person make you smile, or do you look away in disappointment. I always looked away, the way I looked at my own father.
Why? Because I was not in any way living to my true purpose. In fact, I was
trying to run away from it as far away as possible. When I was eight years old, I snuck out of the sofa bed I shared with my brother and climbed into the bathtub, with a brown molded stain overhead, occasional drops hitting my leg. I made a blood oath with myself that night- without the blood cuz that would be weird. I had just received an A+ on a short story I had written for second grade English class. I knew. I just new. It was as clear to me as the drops hitting my leg from the asbestos overhead. I was a writer, I had found my heart song. I have tried over the years to meet my destiny, but the attempts were always half assed, like a lime jello that didn’t quite set as you bring it to the Easter table. This is because I believed in the American dream more than I believed in my own dreams. Being a father changed that all that. It exposed me as a hypocrite. My boys changed everything for me, in ways they made never know. They are now 11 and 9, Justin and Xavier. They are smart and curious and wonderful and passionate and stubborn and annoying and selfish – all of the things that make women and men both love and hate me. I am a lot. They made me realize that I don’t practice what I preach, which was revealed to me at my in-laws pool in Oakville, Ontario, the second most livable city in Canada.
He is my doppelganger in so many ways; I can see it in his body, albeit several shades lighter than me; I can feel it in his heart, his need for physical and emotional validation. On this day, the sun so blazingly hot, that the only place to be is in the water, he says “Dad, I’ll race to the deep end of the pool.” Both a simple challenge and an existential reminder of my life long struggle: my fear of swimming.
I almost drowned in a pool with I was around Justin’s age; a game of pool tag that went horribly wrong. There are few things more lonely than drowning, made even worse by people mindlessly frolicking around. If any of them had paid a moments attention this wouldn’t be a story that I would be telling, and I would already be on the other side of the pool. I don’t remember being rescued, me pissing chlorine out of my mouth and onto the pool deck, but that loneliness, that fear, has wrapped around me forever, my two biggest fears wrapped into one seminal moment. Justin doesn’t give a fuck about any of that. He was to show his Dad that he’s
the shit, that the swimming lessons worked, that he’s not a boy anymore, that at 7 he’s a little man. So I counted down. 3, 2, 1 – and I swam; eyes closed and buttcheeks tight, arms singly wildly, occasionally doing something that resembles a stroke. I could hear the adults on the deck, numbing themselves with booze and chips, Because they all know that I could die. But I couldn’t stop. I wouldn’t stop.
This is why I am a hypocrite. Because as a father, like all fathers, we tell our kids to dream, we install in them Obama’s Audacity of Hope. That despite all the things against, even for a black man in North America, that they can still shoot for the moon, strive for excellence, and demand them to believe they are beautiful and that anything is possible.Yet, I have not found that internal belief in myself, my own audacity. My mandate that I have stories to tell, worlds to create, and that they belong to the world, instead of inside my own heart. And that, yes, we all have metaphorical “drownings,”
painful triggers that prevent us from being our most evolved self. At 49 years old, grey and creaky with time, with a dad bod and bifocals, am finally saying my time is now. Being a father gave me that. My sons Justin and Xavier gave me that.
Today I am celebrating the publishing of my first book, “Lady Ms. Sneezy’s Most Unfortunate Covid Snot Assault,” and am already working on my second book. I am the host of the podcast, Black Fathers Matter, which is a humorous look at parenting, and pop culture, from the perspective of two Black dads and best friends. I am working on projects that impact diversity and inclusion. And I am happy, I mean deliriously happy. I am building the life I want, not based on the American Dream, but based on my own dreams. I am creating friendships with other creatives, and collectively we are helping each other grow and rise. Everyday, I wake to hang with my kids, see them rise as young men. They fulfill me. But what fulfills me more is sitting at my desk with a cup of tea, Sly and the Family Stone on the speaker, and a blank page. It should have happened 30, 40 years ago, but its happening now. And I am ready for it. Because it’s never too late. And my time is now.