If you are questioning if there is something more fulfilling for you to be doing, you are not alone. This article will get you started in finding answers.
Since March 2020, when pandemic reality hit many of us, we have had to rethink how to satisfy our needs – basic needs like how we get food, how we stay connected to each other, and how we stay healthy. Many of us have also been evaluating how we earn a living, and how we make a difference in life.
In these past two years, millions of people have been laid off and millions more are quitting to start something new. Maybe they don’t yet know what their next position or business will be, but they do know they want more than what they have been doing. Surveys show that a significant percentage of employed people are actively looking for different positions as well.
So, what are we looking for?
IS THIS THE RIGHT WORK FOR ME?
Very few of the 80+ people I coached in 2020-2021 have been clear that they are currently in the right line of work for themselves, or if not doing the right work, what they would like to do next.
Of course, as a data sample this is a skewed set, since most people seek coaching to determine their next steps. You could say they are pre-disposed to wonder what is next. What makes this lack of clarity notable is that most of these questioning clients were employed during coaching, identified by their current organizations as high-potential leaders with growth potential.
These employed clients sought coaching to develop influence, strategic planning, executive presence, and other skills for success in their current position, or to earn a promotion. It was while we focused on those areas that the question often crept in, “Is this whole situation even right for me?”
This question is not unusual for a person to ask at any time. However, since 2020 there has been a distinctly different quality to how it is being asked. There seems to be more underneath the ask. ‘Is this the right situation for me?’ is now deeper – It’s not just about is this job interesting enough, is it challenging enough, am I compensated fairly – but am I genuinely valued here, and am I making a contribution in life?
We are looking for what will fulfill us.
FOLLOW MY WHAT?
In the 1980’s, Joseph Campbell advised people to “follow your bliss,” which has morphed in the years since to “follow your passion.”
On the surface this seems like good advice… so why is it so overwhelming? Why is it so hard for us to figure out what we are passionate about? Why does that sense of wholeness, which Joseph Campbell described as bliss, elude so many of us?
There are numerous articles, podcasts, and papers on why ‘follow your passion’ is bad advice. Reasons noted include how passions take years to develop and change often over a lifetime. People often can’t name something they are passionate about, which results in feeling ‘less-than.’ One article even proposed that passion might just be for the privileged few who don’t need to work for a living.
In 2018, Stanford researchers determined that a focus on ‘finding our passion’ might actually lead us to be less successful, because our mindsets become too fixed on that ‘one thing’ and we are no longer open to discovering new beneficial things. They also concluded that people tend to believe if they have passion for something, their path to success in that area will be easier. As a result, when challenges arise, they give up more quickly.
Passion provides energy and drive to start something new! If you have passion for something and can take action in your life to demonstrate your passion, you might experience an emotional rush that few get.
What carries us further than passion, however, is purpose.
FIND A HIGHER PURPOSE
Purpose gives us staying power. Purpose does not require that we are in any particular emotional state to take the next step. We naturally just get it that if there is a meaningful reason for doing this hard thing, we won’t be as easily thrown by the inevitable challenges and setbacks along the way.
Make a list of the areas that are very important to you at this time in your life. Use these as your personal purpose statements.
When you are seeing the deeper meaning behind a goal, you will be more likely to gain clarity in your next steps and be able to weather challenges. When you see yourself taking actions backed by what is important to you, you will more likely experience a sense of wholeness.
Bringing the energy of meaning and purpose to anything you are doing will bring you a greater sense of well-being.
Some example purpose statements:
- I am always growing as a person
- I lift people up
- I connect people for their mutual benefit
- I am always innovating to improve people’s experience
- I create beauty
- I am a healer
- I am an excellent provider for my family
- I am a visionary leader
- I am an effective manager
- I am an adventurer
- I am a loving family member
- I contribute to my community
- I am always spiritually developing
You will likely have several purposes, things that are very important to you at this time in your life. You might see something that is important to you, that you are not currently demonstrating as much as you’d like. How great to see this now!
Notice that these purposes are not connected to specific fields or positions. Knowing what brings you purpose and direction at this time, however, can make it easier to see what your next field or position should include.
What is next for you may very well be something entirely different than what you have been doing up to this point, or it might be to stay where you are. What is next for you may or may not fill you at once with a feeling of passion. What is next for you will most likely not be what you do for the rest of your life, it will simply be what is next.
Whatever you do from this day on, make it purposeful.