“What do I want to do with my life?”
Not exactly a small question, eh? “What do you want to do when you grow up?” our parents and teachers would ask; perhaps still do. “What do you want to do after you’ve finished uni? What do you want to do with your life?” If you are one of the many people who are intimidated by such questions, fear not. You’re in a very large boat with probably the majority of young people along with you. Even those who have lived for quite a while often struggle to answer such questions with any real clarity.
First of all, there is just so much choice these days! We are bombarded with choice, and when we consider the subject of careers this is especially evident. There were no graphic designers thirty years ago. No software or video game developers (or at least there were very few) and there were certainly no vloggers or Instagram influencers. Our parents and grandparents were more likely to join a profession based upon one of their relatives being occupied with such a profession, or because it was seen to be prestigious. There was simply less choice back then, and therefore less opportunity for this personal dilemma or choosing what the hell you’re going to do with the rest of your life! There is so much we can do these days, and so many opportunities that it can be difficult to even know where to start. This isn’t to say that having so many opportunities is a bad thing – quite the opposite, in fact – just that the vast array of choice before us can lead to a lot of indecision.
Yet a lot of this indecision comes from the huge significance we can give this so-called issue. When we think in this way, making a choice can feel like life or death. The rest of your life could be a very long time, and we certainly don’t want to box ourselves into something we don’t enjoy until we reach retirement age. Some of us are blessed with knowing exactly what we want to do almost from the day we’re born, whilst for others (myself included) this is more of a discovery that we have to uncover for ourselves.
Many of us want to know whether we’re on the right path in life, particularly for those of us with a spiritual mindset – and with all this apparent choice and significance we give to this question, it can feel damned-near impossible to know for sure. Yet there are some indicators we can employ to at least get a rough idea.
Before I go any further, I’d just like you to take a minute or so to assess the current state of your life. Are you at university just because you don’t want to have to think about work for a few years? Are you working a job you don’t really like just because it pays the bills? Do you feel happy and alive on a daily basis, knowing that you are doing something that fulfils you and makes use of your own personal skills and talents, or working towards this? If you aren’t, then I’d like you to ask yourself why. Really think about it. You only get one shot at life, so why wouldn’t you want to be doing something that makes you happy every day?
The overwhelming answer to this question is that most people simply don’t know. Of course there are other circumstances, too – those such as time and money, but we’ll talk about those later. Most of us don’t know why we are living this way because we’re not even aware of it. And if we start to think about what we could do instead, the answer is often the same – we don’t know. The reasons for this are many, but in the end it all comes back to awareness of self and the willingness to face the truth of who we really are.
You see, you actually already know what you want to do with your life! You already know what you’re meant to be doing, because it’s an inherent part of who you are. All you have to do is look within and ask the right questions.
If you’re feeling in any way stuck or lost at the moment, or would simply like a bit more clarity on who you really are, then I suggest you go and get a piece of paper and a pen before you continue reading. Once you have, close your eyes and think about this question for a moment – what did you really love doing as a child? It doesn’t matter if this could relate to a job, or make you money, or anything ‘adult.’ Just think of what you loved doing as a child and write these things down. Then, think and write down what you love doing now. Make two columns and write down 10 things you love doing, if you can. In the other column, I’d like you to think and write down 10 things that you’re good at. Have a look at what you’ve written and see if any of the ideas in the columns match – you’ll probably find that they do in some way or another, because most people enjoy doing what they’re good at. Keep looking at your lists and see which ideas most emotionally resonate with you – the ones that get you excited and feeling really alive. Imagine yourself doing these things now, and see how that makes you feel. If you get a tingly feeling in your heart or your gut, or start to feel a whole lot more excited, then you know you’re on the right track.
Now why did I ask you to do this? Your talents, skills and passions are an inherent part of who you are on a spiritual level. You can choose to ignore them but you can never take them away, because they are part of the fabric that makes up who you are – they are unique to you in their very own way! This is important because these gifts and passions are yours for a reason, and act as waypoints pointing you in the right direction. Nothing in life is mere coincidence, and you having the gifts you have isn’t either.
The amount of personal happiness and satisfaction you experience on a day-to-day level is directly influenced by how much of yourself you are using, how much you are giving. If you’re constantly doing the same thing over and over again, never challenging yourself, never really using the skills you have, you’re unlikely to be truly satisfied with your life. You may be comfortable, content even, but these are different from true happiness and fulfilment.
OK, so let’s say you know what some of your passions are and you decide you want to start incorporating more of that into your life, or even make it into what you do full-time. The first thing to know is that this transformation won’t happen overnight! Working your passions into your life tends to be a gradual process – many of us have full-time study or work commitments that leave little time for doing what we really love. This doesn’t mean we can’t work it in, however! One of my great passions, for example, is writing – especially creative writing. Four years ago I had the idea to start writing a novel, and slowly but surely (with big breaks in between) I now have a 100,000-word book! Start working your passions into your life slowly, when you can, with the goal of making this a bigger and bigger part of your life. If you’re set on making your passion into an income for yourself, it also really helps to know and write down how you’re going to achieve this. If you like drawing for example and would love to sell your work, what is your niche that makes you unique? How will you go about promoting it? We live in a world where marketing and self-promotion are, sadly, almost more important than creating great work. More on this in a later post.
If you’re still not entirely sure what your passions are, or which one in particular you’d like to focus on, remember you can always ‘try before you buy.’ Take one of the things from your list and give it an honest try for a month, when you can. If it isn’t lighting you up, move onto another one. You’ll know when you’ve hit the jackpot.
Also, know that by making the decision to bring more of what you love, and thus more of your true self, into your life, not only are you choosing to create a better, brighter life for yourself, but you’ll also be showing others that it’s possible too. You have no idea how much of a difference you could make simply by starting to bring more of what you love and are good at into your everyday life.
So what are you waiting for?
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