Are you one of those people who have known what they wanted to do with their life since they were a kid? Sing? Dance? Fly a plane? Become an artist? Travel the World? Inspire people? Maybe live a life of freedom on the road with endless adventure?
Or are you like I was and aren’t really sure what your dream is? You have things you love but can’t really pinpoint what your “thing” is. How do you find it?
This is how I found my path:
Look back at your childhood. That is when you were completely you. The sky was the limit and we dreamed big. The world hadn’t damaged us yet. What did you love to do as a child? What was your personality like? Were you quiet and introverted? Did you love using your brain and reading? Were you active and adventurous? Or were you an outgoing leader? When you played make believe what would you do?
I grew up in the Sierra Nevada mountains 45 minutes from a grocery store or town. It was the place that formed me as a person. I was always quiet, shy, and thoughtful. I cared about people and animals. I loved roaming around the mountains by myself with my dog. I was daring and adventurous. I loved riding my bike off jumps and taking my Barbie swimming in mud puddles. I played with trucks and built roads in the dirt.
I wasn’t allowed to be indoors during the day so I learned to entertain myself in the great outdoors and I’m so thankful for that.
As I got older I typically had one best friend that I did everything with and then my friends in classes at school. I never had a desire to be popular or cared too much about what people thought. I liked anyone who was nice to me and cared a lot about people’s feelings. They always felt comfortable talking to me and I loved helping and being there for them. I was always drawn to the outcasts, I wasn’t ok with people being treated badly or feeling alone.
In my early 20’s I knew I wanted to be a counselor. I wanted to help people. It’s always bothered me deeply when people are hurting. I had felt a lot of hurt in my childhood and I didn’t want anyone else to ever feel that way. We can always use our pain to help others.
But, I was a single mom and was already working full time building a corporate career. My son was in school and childcare longer than I wanted already. I wasn’t willing to spend my nights in college because my time with my son was more important to me. I was doing well in the corporate world even though I didn’t love it, so I decided to sacrifice my career happiness for quality time with my son and I wouldn’t change that decision for the world.
But as soon as my son was grown and moved out on his own…my world shifted. It’s like the Universe said “Ok, the corporate world suited you while your purpose was raising your son, but now it’s time to follow your new purpose and your current suffering is going to get you there”.
Why do we always have to suffer to grow? Unfortunately, because suffering is what changes us and takes us to a new stronger level. The best way to look at suffering is to embrace it and say “Cool! I’m about to grow and become more awesome!” Yeah I know that’s hard but it’s actually the truth. As I always say…embrace the suck. 😉
For me suffering came when I made the decision to change my life and follow what my heart wanted. Suffering also comes to push us in the right direction. All the things that I was supposed to move away from became very miserable. Those were also things I was holding on to out of fear and safety.
“When suffering happens, it forces us to confront life in a different way than we normally do.” – Philip Yancey
Here is a tip for you…the more you hold onto those things that you are supposed to let go of and the more you resist, the harder the suffering becomes. The Universe is going to push you towards where you need to be and until you do it, your suffering will increase. I held on longer than I should have and as I look back I wish I would have just listened. It would have saved a lot of stress and pain.
But we all tend to hold on to safety and let fear hold us back when we’re going into the unknown. Now I hold onto FAITH. Let your FAITH be bigger than your fear! If God brings you to it (puts it in your heart), he will get you through it. Trust it!
“Suffering is a corrective to point out a lesson which by other means we have failed to grasp, and never can it be eradicated until that lesson is learned.” – Edward Bach
Here are 4 steps that will guide you into your purpose and path in life:
Look back to your childhood – Like I did above, look at what you loved as a child. Remember what your personality was like. What did you dream about? Were you outgoing with lots of friends? Were you more quiet and shy? Were you adventurous or timid and scared to try new things? What did you like to do? When you played make believe, what were you doing? Dig into your personality. Write these down.
Look at yourself now – What excites you? What are you passionate about? It can be simple like organizing things, gardening, decorating, painting, working with your hands, reading, writing, hiking, kayaking, running, spending time in nature, etc. Pay attention to what you’re drawn to.
Don’t look at limitations because in truth there are none. You make time for what’s most important to you. Stop putting things you enjoy on the back burner because it’s these very things that will lead you down your path to who you are and bring about joy in your life.
Look at your past jobs and personal experiences – This one helped me quite a bit. Below are examples of how I analyzed my past to guide you on how to delve into yours and start to find your purpose.
Some positions I held while going down this path and the things that jumped out at me were:
I led a single parents ministry at a large church which included counseling single moms, like myself. This showed me what I was drawn to and how people trusted me and easily opened up to me. It came very naturally to me and made me feel purpose.
I loved my job at Cisco managing 5000 of our resellers because I was training them and guiding them daily. I’d work 12 hour days with no problem because it was in alignment with me.
I was a Corporate Trainer for a large company out of San Francisco for a couple years and I excelled there. I found that I was able to present things in a way that people could really understand and grasp.
I managed clients and their businesses for 9 years. I loved strategizing problems and coming up with solutions. The company I worked for trusted me and left me alone to run things as I saw fit. I excelled here because I do best when I’m running things. I do things from the heart and I don’t do well in a job where someone is trying to tell me how to do something in a specific way. I strongly believe we all need to be given the ability to do things in our own creative way as long as it aligns with the same outcome. We need this to be who we were made to be!
I was also an HR consultant for companies for many years training them on the laws and guiding them with compliance. I also worked with employee issues in employee relations which I thoroughly loved. I was good at it and in my alignment with getting people back on track in a positive way.
These are the jobs I excelled at because they tapped into my hearts pull. I didn’t even realize it up until a few years ago that God had put me in roles that were preparing me for the now! In my jobs I always leaned towards positions where I was helping people.
THEN I decided to try out project management. For the first time in my life I found a role that was COMPLETELY out of alignment with me. When you aren’t meant to do something and God didn’t put those tools in your toolbox…WOW.
I did that for 4 years! I kept trying and somehow everyone thought I was doing a fabulous job (had to be God’s favor) but it was complete torture for me. I was beyond miserable and no matter how hard I tried it was a daily struggle, I just couldn’t get it to flow.
The reason was because I worked in IT and these projects were more techie brain related…I’m a HEART person! I wasn’t helping people but instead sitting in front of a computer all day building out plans for technical projects. ACK! But THIS JOB was the suffering that led me to start my Life Transformation Coaching business and leave corporate behind for good!
See how I analyzed my past? It’s your turn to do the same. Even at jobs you hated…look at why you hated that job. In positions where you excelled, look at the reasons you excelled. What were you good at and what lit you up? What prepared you for your path ahead? What did people compliment you on?
What about in your personal life? What do people usually come to you for? What do they say you’re great at? For example, do people tend to automatically come to you for advice or when they need someone to talk to?
I can’t tell you how many times in my personal life people told me I should be a counselor because I’m so good at figuring people out. It lit me up every time I heard it because it’s what my soul longed for.
Do some digging here and you’ll start to find the clues to who you are and what your purpose is.
Start doing these things that bring you joy – Every single day deliberately do something you love. I know our days get busy but schedule it in and stick to it.
Trust me, this is SO important in your journey and it will shift your mindset each day.
Doing things we love shifts us from our brains to our hearts. It’s our hearts that gently guide us down our path. It provides next steps, ideas, and as you follow those leadings…you will continually find your purpose.
Most importantly, we are inspired when we do things we love. We connect to our hearts and we feel energized and excited about life again. Ideas flow.
Speaking of ideas flowing, for me my happy place is on the trail and being outdoors. I try to do it daily if not multiple times in a day. When I’m there my problems all melt away, my brain shuts up and my heart starts speaking. It starts throwing ideas at me and giving me guidance. My path opens up.
I STRONGLY encourage you to immediately take note of anything that comes to your mind when you are in that place of connection to your heart. Those are bits of encouragement and guidance.
I use my recorder on my phone when I’m out and about so that I don’t forget because trust me, you’ll forget! I always think I’ll remember but I don’t. I’ve learned to take those and get them either recorded or in writing immediately. Don’t let yourself lose these important pieces of guidance.
This post is Part 1 of a 3 part series so I’m going to leave you with these 4 steps for now. My next blog post will go deeper. We’ll talk about what’s NOT working in our lives and how to start shifting away from those things so that you can get clear on your path.
Do the prep work above and not just over the next week, make these steps a habit in your daily life. You want to continually be looking at your tendencies, your personality traits, things you love…and implementing those things into your life.
These are going to lead you but YOU MUST DO THE WORK. YOU MUST TAKE ACTION. It won’t just magically happen. Be deliberate and intentional. It’s YOUR time!!
“The path to success is to take massive, determined actions.”
– Tony Robbins
Have a blessed week!