When I was little, I was one of those kids who had one of two answers to the question:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Answer #1: A ballerina.
Answer #2: I have no flipping idea.
I mean, how on earth are you supposed to know when you’re 5, 12 or even 18 that you want to be: someone who flips homes, a medical device salesperson, an online marketing specialist, etc.?
Even after getting my MBA and embarking on a corporate career, I still had no idea what my purpose was.
It wasn’t until I figured out what I DID NOT want to do that I discovered my true purpose in life.
3+ years into my career in the medical device industry, I was Product Manager for a device none of the sales reps believed in. In layman’s terms, it was essentially a low-technology vacuum, that sucked out blood clots clogging patients’ arteries.
So, I’d travel to hospitals around Europe (where I was located at the time) to help support the sales team with this product. Because they had no interest in selling what they felt was a losing device, this almost always meant that I ended up on a solo sales mission.
This involved waiting around for someone with a heart attack to arrive at the hospital and encouraging the physician on hand to trial the device (on the patient). The goal was that it would go well and the doctor would then move forward with a bulk order of the product.
No pressure, right?
(Have I mentioned I’m afraid of blood?)
Needless to say, while I learned an immense amount on the job, it was not the right fit for me.
However, it took me a while to realize this. In fact, it took me 3.5 years.
Without going into all the gory details, the result was that this job fast-tracked my path to becoming my own boss.
Less than 6 months after leaving my job in the medical device industry, I started my own company, as an online marketing strategist.
6 years later, I now have a career that brings me enormous professional and personal fulfillment.
And I only got here because I figured out what I hated about my last job. Things like:
– Little to no time for a personal life;
– Having to listen to a boss, who quite frankly, while a nice person, was incompetent (I think we’ve all been there);
– Hitting a salary ceiling; and
– Being forced to work with unethical people.
Now, this is not to say there were not positive aspects about my last career. There were many.
Nonetheless, by identifying what I disliked, I was able to determine what would be a better professional fit for me.
When I looked at my pro-con list, there was a common thread.
I wanted more freedom: personally, professionally and financially.
Essentially, I wanted to be the master of my own destiny…responsible for both my successes and my failures.
(And believe me, there have been plenty of both.)
Today, I have been privileged enough to:
1. Choose who I want to work with,
2. Help clients achieve major marketing success,
3. Take vacation when and how I want,
4. Temporarily step away from my company when a loved one got sick and needed extra support,
5. Move across the country to support my fiance’s career as a pilot (and consequently move by business as well), and
6. Countless other freedoms.
Now, this isn’t to say that they aren’t plenty of challenges. There are.
But I wouldn’t give up this freedom for anything. It has allowed me to create a life on my own terms…a life I LOVE.
Most importantly, I get to help other business owners in their pursuit of this same entrepreneurial freedom.
This is, by far, the most rewarding part of my job.
So if you’re struggling with finding your own purpose, I encourage you to make a list of the things you are unhappy with right now.
Take a look and see if you can find some common threads.
Because when you can figure out what is not serving you in your life, you might just find your purpose staring you straight in the face.
And then that question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”, becomes so much simpler to answer.