Is searching for your purpose dragging you down? 

We have a tradition back home, where on your first birthday you are presented with an assortment of random objects and ’told’ to pick your favourite. That very important choice, which as a one year old, you would have considered greatly, will determine what you would likely do for the rest of your life.

For example, a pen for a writer, rosary beads for a nun/priest, a kitchen utensil for a chef, money for a business person, a stethoscope for a doctor … you get the idea.

I picked the wooden spoon, clearly destined to spend my life in a kitchen. If only at one year old I knew that my culinary talents would not extend beyond pasta, I would have definitely picked a better option!

Whilst there is humour in having a one year old perform this ritual, the truth behind our career choices is not very different. As kids we are constantly asked what we want to be when we grow up and often guided by our parents’ perspective of what our life should be like. Our educational system doesn’t help either – particularly when we need to be making decisions around subjects and degrees from the age of 16 (if not younger).

So how can we balance expectations with what WE really want to do with our lives?

One // Find some perspective

Whilst some of us are born knowing our purpose, some never get there. Many find it along the way. The reality is that there is no ‘6 step process to finding your purpose’ or a set timeline for you to work to. So you need to stop giving yourself crap for not having the answers. Be nice to yourself, appreciate that you are already way ahead of many by simply knowing that you have a purpose, somewhere.

Two // Be practical

Need to pick a degree, trade or path but aren’t sure what is going to see you through till your pension? Join the club. No one really knows and even if they do; life, jobs, circumstances, technology – everything is changing so quickly that its never really a done deal. Pick an area which you will enjoy or which you know you are good at – that will make you happy in the interim and who knows where it will lead you from there.

Three // Play

Say yes to opportunities, try new things, move beyond your comfort zone. This is what will help you work out what you want to do with yourself. If you don’t try something new, you will never know if you like it or if you don’t. Meet people, listen to their stories, ask questions – leverage the experiences of others and how they found their purpose.