Some of us knew from a very early age what we wanted to be. We all have friends who grew up wanting to be nurses and do precisely that today. Others wanted to be firemen or meteorologists or a bevy of careers in between and maybe some of them followed those dreams through and maybe some didn’t. Either way, it’s difficult not to second-guess whether or not we have truly found our purpose or passion in life. After all, with so much social media content thrown our way depicting a perfect life, a perfect family and a perfect job, it’s easy to analyze if we’ve met our potential or are still living beneath it.
Whether finding our life’s calling is an unobtainable pursuit that none of us will ever live up to is up for debate. Still, if you often find yourself wondering whether or not what you’re currently doing is aligned with where you should be, read on. Today, we’re discussing six ways you can be sure you’re not living your passion. Do you find yourself nodding in agreement? If so, it may be time to reevaluate the decisions you’re making and consider how to correct your path moving forward.
1. Work feels like a chore.
We’ve all heard the saying “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Before you roll your eyes, read it again. While cliche and overused, the sentiment behind this statement rings true. In particular, one keyword is worth highlighting: “have.”
Yes, even once you find your passion, you will be required to work. It’s not as if you can discover your true talents and skill sets and suddenly check out for the next few decades. Say, for instance, you discover that your purpose and passion is caring for children. You could figure out that’s what you’re meant to do and never take it a step beyond that, but to do so would be to perform a grave disservice to everyone young person you could have helped.
You’ll still be required to put in long hours, work hard at your craft and dedicate yourself to learning as much as possible. The difference? You won’t feel as if you “have” to do it. Rather, you’ll be enthusiastic about the process and eager to begin the pursuit. Work will still be there, yes, but it won’t feel like a mandatory chore. You’ll go from feeling as though you’re pushing paper just to make someone else money to having a deep sense of fulfillment and pride about your work that cannot be erased by a bad day, rude customer or spat with your co-worker.
2. You can’t connect your life’s dots.
Do you know someone who is living his or her passion? It’s likely that if you asked him or her the steps taken to get to that point, the answer will be something along the lines of, “Looking back, everything I’ve done has led me to this point.” Hindsight is indeed 20/20 and once we’re on the other side of finding our purpose, we can more clearly see how every decision we made, every step we took or didn’t take and every person we met along the way contributed to where we are now.
If you’re looking around at your environment and wondering “How in the world did I get here?” (and not in a good way) or whispering to yourself “This isn’t where I’m meant to be,” then it might be time to reevaluate if your current situation lines up with your long-term life goals.
3. You feel like you’re playing a part.
When you discover your life’s purpose, you will sink deeply into it and it will become a sort of second skin. You’ll feel as though you were never meant to do anything else and it’s the most natural thing in the world for you to take on. Conversely, one way to realize you haven’t gotten there yet is to consider whether or not you feel like an actor on a stage most of the time.
Do you show up for work wearing a suit and tie, uncomfortable with yourself all eight hours of the day and constantly wishing you were outside, exploring nature? Do you attend the meetings, answer the phones and send the emails not with enthusiasm and vigor but rather with a drone sense of duty and responsibility? If so, you’re not in your most natural state. You’re forcing it and faking it and that’s an illusion you can only keep up for so long until something (or someone) breaks.
Anyone who has had her identity stolen knows that the process of repairing all that was broken and putting everything back together in the aftermath can be long and laborious. Pretending to be someone else isn’t just a shallow and meaningless way of life, but it can actually be a harmful and detrimental one as well. If you’re living under a false pretense, it’s time to give it up. You may be surprised at how freeing it feels to claim yourself just as you are.
4. You’re living for yourself.
While it is possible that your life’s purpose is designed to make only you happy, it isn’t likely. Rather, once you discover what you’re meant to do, you can’t help but bring everyone up along with you. Often, our truest passions and purposes center on at least some aspect of altruism. Even if you don’t find your calling in public service work, such as nursing or law enforcement, you can still use that inner fulfillment you feel to share positivity and encouragement with those around you.
As you live your purpose, others can’t help but take notice. Have you ever watched someone and thought to yourself “He is doing exactly what he’s meant to be doing?” It’s inspiring, uplifting and endlessly motivating. If you’re living just for yourself, your sphere of impact is considerably small. Think of how much wider it would be if others could watch your personal metamorphosis unfold.
5. You still need constant reassurance.
All of us enjoy a little positive reinforcement every now and then. Yet, if you constantly seek the approval of others, especially when it comes to your line of work, then you might not have found your purpose yet. Once you do, you will no longer require feedback from your superiors, a pat on the back or public recognition to feel accomplished and successful.
Instead, you will feel an inner sense of accomplishment that stems not from external rewards or motivators but from the knowledge that you’re using your innate gifts to the best of your ability. As your confidence builds, you’re more willing to take risks and explore new opportunities as they come your way. The fear is diminished and all that’s left is unbridled possibility.
6. Stress is a constant friend.
This is not to say that once you find your calling, you will magically live a stress-free existence. On the contrary, you’ll still have many days where it feels like there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. You’ll still have burdens to bear, setbacks to weather and obstacles to overcome. The only difference? You’ll be able to breathe contently through it all.
When we’re spinning our wheels and living an inauthentic life, even the smallest molehill is a mountain. We’re so weighed down by what we haven’t done that we can’t realize the magnitude of the great things we have already accomplished. Life is a series of caffeine-fueled anxieties and getting ahead seems like a pipe dream. Meanwhile, someone living their purpose isn’t immune to these exact same stressors. She is just more clearly focused on the end goal in sight, unwilling to let tiny challenges derail her from pressing on toward the goal.
Finding Yourself Amid the Clutter
We live in a world where it’s so easy to lose yourself, even unintentionally. This is especially true when you consider how the media portrays perfection. What if your ideal life isn’t as glamorous as a celebrity’s or as put-together as an influencer’s? Does that make it less than, or not as important? Absolutely not.
Ultimately, finding your life’s purpose starts with one step. We must make the decision to ditch the masks and embrace our truest selves. Only in doing so can we discover who we really are, what we’re really great at, and how we can use that knowledge to change the world.