I often hear people say they're searching for their life purpose. Maybe their jobs aren't fulfilling, but they don't know what else they'd be passionate enough to pursue that can also earn them a living.
After thinking about it, I find that people generally fall into 4 categories:
1) Those who know what they want to do and go after it full force.
2) Those who know what they want to do and are too afraid to pursue it.
3) Those who are searching everywhere for their purpose when it's under their noses.
4) Those who don't know their purpose and desperately want to.
First, let's (re)define and differentiate some terms
Life Purpose = the state of feeling the joy of your sharing.
Passion(s) = pursuits that interest you.
Job = a post of employment that earns a paycheque.
Categories 1 + 2
For those in Category 1, a life path might go something like this: Sam has a calling from a young age to become a chef. She trains at a culinary school and goes on to earn a fabulous living as a top chef. Her life purpose, passion, and job all align.
Her LP + P + J all line up.
To many, this is ideal—having a passion you excel at that brings joy to others, all the while earning a handsome living.
There's that old sentiment, "Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life." But having a defined path has its challenges. When Sam succeeds, the highs are great. But it's not always fun. Work can still be work, the process gruelling. Sam can even face discouragement from loved ones. Perhaps her parents really want her to be a doctor. Her friends may not understand her ambition and drive.
Even if she does get all the support in the world, Sam may have to battle her own pressure to always be better, the best, especially when she's up against the best of the best. If she's not careful, her passion can become an obsession and impede her personal life, taking over her identity.
It can take a lot of strength to tune out other people's opinions and agendas to follow your heart. It can feel lonely not to be understood. And frustrating to have a dream and not achieve it (yet). Even when you give it your all, you might still fail or get rejected. You have to want it bad enough to pick yourself up and try again and again.
Can you blame those in Category 2 for not even wanting to try? Why give up their comfortable life to risk an uncertain new career and still fail? Yet if they don't try, they have to live with that nagging feeling of missing an opportunity, the regret of not going after what they truly desire.
That's not a great option either. If they're too scared to take the plunge, they can take baby steps by keeping their day job for a sense of security, while working on their passion as a side hustle.
LP + P
Keeping a day job has its advantages. This route allows a stress-free space to gather knowledge, experience, and build confidence. Artists, for example, do this so they can explore their creativity without the added pressure of their art having to also earn enough money to pay the rent. It depends on where that person is in their life. Whether or not they earn a paycheque from pursuing their passions, they are still living their LP.
For those who are searching high and low for that one calling, that one talent that can form their identity and make their mark in this world, remember that passions change. You are not your career. People are multi-faceted. You can have more than one passion or job.
Sam can happily work as a chef for the rest of her life, or she might wake up one day and decide she would rather be a clown now. Or she can decide to work both as a chef and a clown. Her P and J can change, but her LP always stays intact as long as she's listening to her intuition to pursue what her soul desires.
No matter what category you belong to, knowing what your passions are is always helpful. I recommend taking The Passion Test. The process explained in the book can help you identify your top 5 passions. I like to do it every few years because my priorities can change.
Another way to pinpoint your passions is through jealousy. What you envy is what you lack in life. Of course, it’s not great to focus on your envy for others, the feeling of entitlement or being cheated out of something you feel you should have too, but the point is to identify what you really want when you’re triggered by others who already have them.
Not everyone is ready or in the position to take a top passion and turn it into a career. Some may need to hold down a job they're not crazy about for the paycheque.
LP + J
Nothing wrong with that either. Providing for their family might be their top priority/passion at the moment. If they're happy to be able to put food on the table, to send their kids to school, they are sharing and therefore living their LP.
Some people subconsciously block themselves from discovering what they want to do because if they know, they have to do something about it. Working hard and risking rejection and failure are not easy.
However, if you're someone who really wants to know, who has taken countless career assessment tests, explored multiple hobbies, changed majors or jobs several times, seen therapists and other professionals, and still come up with no clear calling, you're not lost. It might be time to take stock of your soft skills.
Not everyone needs to start their own company, create masterpieces, or become famous to be remarkable. Some people can fulfill their LP simply by being a valuable member of their community. Wherever you are you can look around and ask yourself, "how can I be of service?"
Those with soft skills are usually great with people. Living a life where you can spread positive feelings with your compassion, bring order to chaos with your communication or organization skills, make others laugh with your humour, or let someone feel seen, heard, and understood can absolutely be positive and fulfilling. If you already have a job where you can express those qualities...
LP + P + J
You were doing this all along. And maybe the only thing standing in the way was the burdensome belief that you need to have one calling like those in Category 1. Not everyone will have that intuitive voice telling them to be a chef or a clown. If you don't have that inner nagging, enjoy your peaceful life. Sure, you can always push yourself to do more and help others, but it can be on your own terms, in whatever outlet you feel allows you to share the most.
Only you know if you have a fulfilling LP or not. Only you know if your job is the right outlet to share your gifts or if you need to change course. Again, listening to intuition is so important. Read my post here on how to tap into your intuition.
I hope this post has given you some clarity to help you advance in your life path.