I’ve spent about a decade trying to answer that question. I looked for it in books, from gurus, school counselors, life coaches and even psychics. But it only took revisiting my childhood passion to figure out what I always knew:
wish list for a typewriter + hours of making up stories + writing poems when I was 10 + obsessive reading & journal writing = writer
It took remembering what brought me joy that helped me to find my purpose in life.
Through my own struggles, I’ve learned that there are several stages to the path of finding your purpose.
Stage 1: Actively Looking
You might be in high school or college or have years of work experience behind you, but feel like you missed the boat when it comes to living the life of your dreams. If that sounds like you, you’re in stage 1. This is when you’re most actively searching. Like me you might be taking career quizzes, searching the internet, talking with friends, family and a career counselor or a life coach, or reading a book to help you get clear.
Stage 2: Soul Searching
I’d call stage 1 more of a superficial search. You need to get to that point in order to start getting serious about what you want to do with your life. But to really find out what you want and who you are, you need to reach in deep. To bring out my passion for writing, I had to explore who I was as a child, what mattered most to me, and what brought me the most joy. It’s seems easy, but recalling who you are at your very core takes a bit of courage. There’s a reason why you’re not doing what you love right now. Someone told you a) that you couldn’t do it or b) that you shouldn’t do it so you buried that passion way in deep.
Stage 3: Trusting Your Instincts
Bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren says, “Your purpose is not about you.” It’s less about what you want, then about how you can use your innate gifts in service to others. How do we determine what those gifts are? When we learn to not just accept our flaws, but to think of them as strengths we can finally uncover our unique gifts. For example, since I was 7-years-old I would hound my mom with questions. I’ve always been this way annoying new acquaintances and old friends by my curiosity and need to know attitude. I realized after many years that this so-called flaw has enabled me to ask the right questions when it came to interviewing subjects for my writing.
Somewhere deep inside you already know who you are and what you’re meant to do with your life. The answers have been left like breadcrumbs on your path toward your purpose. You’ve just been too afraid, unsure or distracted to notice. All you need to do is to stop the outside noise (your family, your friends, the media that tells you what you should do) and listen to the gift that wants to direct your life.