What do you want to be when you grow up? How do you envision your dream job?
Questions many of us spend an entire lifetime figuring out. We are told to follow our heart, do what we love, and work hard and everything will eventually fall into place. But what if we have yet to discover our true passion in life?
Struggling to choose one area to devote my life to is frustrating and all too familiar. I know I am not alone in feeling lost, stuck, and overwhelmed at this age. After all, how are we supposed to define our passions before we’ve had a chance to live? Before we’ve made a leap and failed miserably? Before we’ve been in situations that stretch and challenge us as a person?
Good news: we don’t need to have all the answers.February 25, 2016 was the first day of the rest of my life: I quit my job to travel the world.
After studying finance and business analytics, I was thrown into the corporate world upon graduation. I found myself dragging out of bed every morning for a role that bored the living hell out of me. I wasn’t driven to succeed and went mechanically through the motions day to day.
Money and stability were the blocker between staying in my 9 to 5 and seeking out what I truly wanted in life. I wasn’t passionate about insurance and came to the realization that passion isn’t something you can just force. It was time to get honest with myself. I was miserable; I was settling.
Leading up to quitting day, I was absolutely terrified of disappointing and letting my team down. The guilt, stress, anxiety, fear, and self-doubt literally kept me awake at night for weeks.
If you are not invested in something, if it doesn’t bring you happiness, why waste your time? Do not set yourself on a path to misery, stuck in a field you loathe, for the sake of satisfying the expectations of others.
Since the majority of our waking hours are spent working, it is important to choose a career that not only interests us, but fulfills us, challenges us, and ultimately makes us happy. Our lives shouldn’t be spent counting down the years to retirement, the minutes until holiday, or the seconds until 5pm. Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.
Did you know? 91% of Millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years. That’s 15 – 20 jobs over a lifetime! We weather jobs we don’t enjoy and discover through the process of elimination, what we don’t want to do, which also helps illuminate what we do want. It suddenly hit me that it wasn’t too late to change paths.
Making a major life change is scary. But you know what’s even worse? Regret. You may risk losing it all, but the potential to gain is even greater. It’s worth facing the fear of uncertainty of the unknown.Moving across the globe to Sydney for my first full time job, I was thrust into in an iconic city, surrounded by a diverse range of expats and travelers. With each backpacker I met telling me “I’m on a trip around the world…,” I grew more and more jealous. They were all so relaxed and carefree, enjoying the life of excitement and adventure I only dreamed of.
At this point, everything else in my life became meaningless. I became addicted to the idea of traveling and all my focus was shifted to fulfilling my dream. Four weeks of annual vacation just wouldn’t cut it for my wanderlust stricken soul.
As we grow up we are not taught the importance of travel. A global education isn’t seen as crucial as a university education leading to a stable, 9-5 corporate job. Traveling gives you a worldly view and understanding of concepts that are unfathomable unless actually experienced.
I realized I needed to stop dreaming of the day my life would change and make it a reality. I had the freedom to choose how I spent my limited days on earth.
What is Passion anyways?
Passion is something that excites you, that gives you purpose, meaning and fulfillment. Passion shapes our existence, fuels the fires of inspiration and opens us up to new opportunities. Passion will emerge when you are being your authentic self in this midst of doing what you love.
When what you do is in alignment with who you are, it will energize you. True happiness comes from the intersection of doing what we enjoy, what we’re good at, and what the world needs.
So many people err on the side of caution and practicality. They find a well paying job, get married, have kids, and then retire, taking the path of least resistance. Passion means challenging the status quo, pushing boundaries, wrecking tradition and reshaping the world as we know it.
The power of passion enables us to have self-confidence, trust ourselves and the perseverance to take the risks required to live every day to its fullest. Living with passion is about having the courage to express your thoughts, opinions, and zest for life. If someone deems you a step short from crazy, that’s passion for you.
However, if we only put energy into one passion, thinking this is our sole purpose in life, we are not living up to our full potential. We are multifaceted beings, with many amazing gifts just waiting to be uncovered.
On chasing your dreams in pursuit of a meaningful life
1. Define what you value most in life.
Create an “exist list” of things believe you were put on this earth for. Consider…
- What is important to you? Adventure? Freedom? Community? Pick a few off of this list and rank them by importance of priority.
- What are you drawn to in your free time? For me, this includes blogging, traveling, photography, and helping others. Those things I don’t ever feel obligated to do make them oh so much sweeter.
- What are your natural talents and strengths? For me, I am good with numbers and analyzing.
- What are your dominant character traits? Introvert? Extrovert? More of a thinker or a feeler? A Meyers Briggs test will help you discover so much about your personality, aptitudes, and directions to take your career. ESTJ in the house!
If the things which you excel at happen to diverge from those that you love, try to find a way to intersect the two. Find a buddy to team up with that has complementary strengths and weaknesses to balance each other seamlessly.
2. Create a vision for your life.
What does your ideal future self look like? Rather than a rigid plan, a vision is a more broad and fluid outlook for the future. We are able to work backward to figure out the steps we should be taking now if we want to achieve our vision 10, 20, or even 40 years from now.
There are always going to be people out there who won’t believe in your vision. People may call you crazy. but you have to believe in and invest in yourself. You are in the driver’s seat of your own life after all. Don’t let anyone or anything else take the wheel for you! When you are firm in your purpose and passion, nothing can shake you.
3. Find the courage to make a change.
Challenge yourself to take that leap of faith and realize it’s never too late (or too early) to make a change if it means ultimately living out your dreams. After all, the future is promised to no one. By sticking out my job in insurance, I realized I was robbing not only myself, but others by not giving it my all in an area I could actually make an impact.
No matter how big or small, the final decision to make a change often doesn’t come easily. There’s an internal back and forth, weighing the pros and cons of each side. And even if you feel 100% sure about a decision, there’s usually a follow-up self-reflective question, “Did I do the right thing?”
4. Follow up with goals to achieve this vision.
If you want to succeed, you need to set goals, or else lack focus and direction. I encourage you to live a life by design, not by default.
- Set goals that motivate you. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, you are less likely to stay committed and achieve.
- Set SMART Goals: Specific: Clear and well defined. Vague and general goals are useless as they don’t provide a course of direction. Measurable: Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. Attainable: By setting realistic yet challenging goals, you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to “raise the bar” and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction. Relevant: Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. Time Bound: Goals must have a deadline with milestones of success along the way.
- Set Goals in Writing: The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. Use strong words such as the word “will” instead of “would like to” or “might for the greatest impact.
5. Don’t give up hope.
Realize success is a never-ending process, not a state of being. Keep on keeping on day in and day out for that you are truly passionate about. Don’t be afraid to experiment, take risks and to fail. Push past the empty excuses and fear. As my mama’s always told me, you’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.After quitting my job in the pursuit of finding meaning, I am experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. I don’t expect clarity or definite answers on my path over the next year. I don’t know what the future holds, and perhaps that is part of the beauty of life. I am embracing this uncertainty as I venture into the unknown and experience all this vast world has to offer!
So see the world, let it change you, and let travel fill you with purpose and passion for a life full of valuable experiences.
Finally set free and damn it feels good.