Not sure what it is about turning 30, but I'll admit it's throwing me for a bit of a loop (among other things going on right now…) It feels like all of a sudden I woke up with the need to obsessively re-evaluate everything about the way I'm living my life. It's a hard process…how do you find the time in between adulting and running a business and trying to take better care of yourself to make sure you're living the kind of life you really want to live? That your life is in line with your values and your actions the reflection thereof?
I'm no stranger to crossroads (life events, not the Britney Spears movie…although I'll admit I saw it when I was thirteen, IN THEATERS no less.) So, in times of crisis, or just general times of doubt I try to look back on the other “crossroads” in my life (like my quarter life one, changing careers, or deciding whether or not to rent out my house) and pick out the threads of similarity of how I got through it.
While I don't have the answers for how to discern if you're truly living your most authentic “best life,” when in doubt…I remind myself of the steps below and it does seem to do the trick of both comforting me and reminding me that everything in life: every event, person, and season… has its purpose.
Understand the Path to Fulfillment Isn't Straight
In college, it seemed like everyone had their careers mapped out. Even I was dead set on becoming an actress and moving to NYC to pursue my then dream of becoming a Broadway star. That was my plan…that was my purpose. But then I slowly I began to learn about myself…about how I hate auditioning and want to make an actionable difference. I knew I had to make a change and do something else.
And I know I probably won't be a blogger for the rest of my life. Five years from now I'll (likely) be doing something completely different. It's exciting and terrifying – and sometimes it really bums me out that I'm not “there” yet (even though I don't always know where “there” is.)
Which is why I have to remind myself that the path isn't linear. I'm not where I'd thought I'd be at thirty, and I'm definitely not where I thought I'd be five years ago (in a good way!) My path has been uneven and broken and also really fulfilling and beautiful at times too and so the fact that it isn't always straight is a good thing.
In order to truly figure out what your life’s passion is, you have to try on a lot of different passions first. Otherwise, how would you know which you like better? The key here is to be open to new experiences and to say ‘yes’ to as many opportunities as are humanly possible. Like coffee? Try managing a coffee shop. Like interacting with customers? Work at the front desk of a high-end hotel and see if you can manage the challenge of delivering the best customer service to every customer that walks in the door. Like real estate? Go get your real estate license.
If you're confused and scared on what comes next – it's best to just pick something and try it out. They let you sample at least two-to-three ice creams before you pick one, why can't life and passions be the same way?
I've said this time and time again (here and here) but in order to be successful, you need to persevere. If at the end of the day you decide it’s not for you, no harm done. As long as you know you’ve tried your best and given it an honest shot, move on. There’s nothing more detrimental than hanging around a job and just doing the minimum because “it’s a job.” If you don’t find any passion doing what you do, leave. Try something else. There are way too many opportunities out there for you not to be doing something you love.
But it's also important to remember that if you really, really want something – you can't just quit when it gets tough. Nothing worth having ever came easy. (I know, believing and living this is always easier said than done.)
Adjust Your Mindset
If you find that there are just no good paths forward out there… check your mindset. Operating out of a scarcity mindset is limiting and has a big impact on your attitude toward life. Instead of saying “I just can’t find a good job” – say instead “There are so many wonderful opportunities out there.” That may sound hokey, but once the positive self-talk occurs, finding the motivation to pursue these opportunities will be less of an issue.
It's why I really believe in the power of mantras. Full confession, I've been shitty with repeating my mantras lately, but after writing this I'm going to get back on the mantra-chanting wagon. I always have to repeat, “Things are always working out for me,” and really they are. And they're working out for you too, you just have to shift your mindset sometimes in order to be able to see it.
“You are the Expert on You…”
Nobody knows what your passions are but you. And nobody can tell you the exact path you should take but you. It's difficult when we have to contend with family/friend/partner expectations of who we are and what we “should” be doing, or when they're trying to be helpful and think they know what's best for us….but the only person you need to listen to is yourself. Don't even listen to me!
I also read the other day that it can take 3-5 YEARS to make a career change if your life's work (or lack thereof) is what's making you unhappy. So keep in mind you are your own expert, but also become an expert in practicing patience. The changes that are worth making taking time.
How do you discover happiness and contentment in your own life? What are the ways you know you're living out your passions?