You’ve made it to the end of an incredibly busy work week and you have a few moments to sit alone in your office and reflect on the month, the year… hell, the entire span of your career. You look around at the degrees and certifications hanging on your office wall and you smile. You glance at the handsomely framed photos sitting on your desk next to the computer monitor. One photo in particular catches your eye — the one of you posing with your colleagues and the industry’s most influential thought leaders at a star-studded gala. You lean back in your chair, clasp your hands behind your head and whisper to yourself, “Wow, I’ve done a lot that I’m proud of.”
As you stand up to grab your coat and turn out the lights, you sigh knowing that you’re pleased with all that you’ve accomplished, yet the familiar feeling that you haven’t even begun to discover yourself and your true purpose wraps itself around you like a straight jacket.
You take a deep breath, put a smile on your face and head toward the door to continue moving through this predictable life you’ve created for yourself, knowing it will never be enough.
So many of us have been there. We earn the degrees, land the dream job our parents can brag to their friends about and steadily advance in our careers only to get to a point where we can no longer hide the truth.
This is not your purpose. This is not your life.
It starts as a nagging feeling like a fly buzzing around your ear until it becomes a profoundly intuitive moment that repeats itself over and over—tantamount to a slow, painful death by a thousand cuts. The universe begins to reveal signs that you have some real work to do. You either pay attention to these signs and begin to figure out how to take the necessary steps to answer your life when it comes calling — or you don’t and experiences begin to emerge where the universe literally forces you out. Resistance is futile.
With your eyes and your heart wide open, you’re finally paying attention to the signs. What should you do next?
Here are five tips that will help you discover your purpose and live your life authentically:
1) Stop pretending that if you simply ignore that nagging feeling, everything will be okay. It won’t.
The late Kurt Vonnegut once said, “We are what we pretend to be. So we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Truer words have never been spoken. If you live your life pretending to be happy, to be fulfilled, to care about people and situations you find yourself in when you really don’t, you’ll continue to be disappointed and disillusioned. Further, you will never discover who you really are and what you were put on this earth to do. Stop pretending and ignoring the signs.
Step into your truth. You’ll be amazed at what awaits you.
2) Create a personal mission statement that will serve to guide you. Want to chart a completely different career path, switching from IT to marketing? Or from law to the culinary arts? Have a desire to work for a non-profit that advocates for the disenfranchised and the voiceless? Always wanted to open a retail store or become a travel writer? While finding your purpose requires many layered steps including talking with your family, working with your financial planner to develop a new financial plan based on potential changes in income, etc., your personal mission statement is an important first step. It becomes your North Star that helps you unlock your vision and motivates you to take action.
3) Develop thick skin. People will judge you, some quietly and others not so much. Friends and colleagues may think you’ve gone mad when they see significant changes happening in your life. Their opinion about your decision to pursue your life’s purpose is just that — their opinion.
4) Believe in yourself and be open to the process of life unfolding in ways you never thought possible. When you begin to take personal inventory, be honest with yourself and have the courage to move in the direction the universe intended. A whole new world of possibilities will open up and new doors will unlock for you. Be hopeful, be patient, be encouraged and embrace the journey.
5) Be still and embrace mindfulness. Every. Single. Day. The only way to fully know yourself and begin to understand your purpose is to listen to that inner voice inside you. Meditate, pray, be still. Remember, the only one you answer to is you in the stillness. Make yourself proud.