Many people fail at finding their true happiness because they never discover what it is that satisfies their truest desires. The question, “what is your passion?” used to invoke so much anger and negativity in me. What If you don’t have a passion? What if you’re a little bit good at a lot of things? What if the things you shine at don’t seem to fit the traditional career path models? What do you do then? What if you were raised by conventional parents who believe that dreams are nice but you need to be practical and find a career that will bring you stability?
Well to all of that I say, “Is there really a job that creates security and stability?” Are you safe in a relationship because you are married, have kids, own a house? Are we not all responsible for our own destiny, creating our own happiness, and uncovering our own desires? If we live for other people can we be happy, fulfilled if you like? If we take care of ourselves first, are we selfish or are we becoming a better person so that we can be better and give more to others?
When I asked myself all of these questions on my journey to find my true passion, my calling in life, I discovered that many people felt the same. As I dug myself out of many a pit of despair, or shame spiral as a friend of mine says, I decided to make note of the steps I took to untangle myself from this nasty little web. The following is the summation of this process which I hope can help at least one person steer clear of more self doubt and confusion than is absolutely necessary.
Go Back In Time
The first step to unlocking your destiny is to think back to when you were little, when you were a dreamer, what did you want to be when you grew up? Try to think back to the earliest time you can remember and think of what it was you loved doing. Think of what you wanted to be. What natural talents have you always possessed? These talents may be more emotional than physical and that’s okay too. How has that changed? What characterized your opinions of how your life would be? If you find that you stopped doing certain things because they wouldn’t naturally lead to an income stream then maybe you have been suppressing your desires. I always wanted to be a dancer. I also used to say that if I got paid to workout (like an actress or a model) I’d be in the best shape of my life. Well, I didn’t pursue a career in dance or acting but in my second career, I became a personal trainer. In this role, I was literally paid to exercise with other people all day long. I was expected to walk the walk of a physically fit person so I ate better and worked out harder than ever before. Before long, I found myself in the best shape of my life. In this role I also taught a senior fitness class which was a jazzercise style class so I was actually paid to dance. Two life goals fulfilled but not in the traditional sense. All of this work trying to live my childhood dream led me to want to go further. If I would have suppressed this voice, I may not be here writing this message to you all today.
Get Real With Your Present
Once you have reflected on your baby self’s hopes and dreams, start to take stock of what you are doing right now. What does your day-to-day life look like? Are there consistent pain points in your daily routine? Are you happy at your job? Is it a career or a job to you? Now dig deeper. Think about whether you are happy doing what you’re doing every day. Think about whether you feel fulfilled. If you find you are lacking in some area, start investigating what is missing. There are tools to help you investigate these feelings. You may want to try meditation, journaling, or working with a coach. Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. It’s also hard to see what is so close to you and an outside perspective might provide you with valuable clarity. If you hit a wall or you start judging yourself too harshly you may have to admit to yourself that you can’t do this by yourself. In this exercise you will need to set aside your ego and fear of failure because you may need to admit that you were wrong or that you made some poor choices. All of these things can be hard to cope with on your own. Because of fear and shame, you might find it comforting to work with a professional who can keep you from spiraling down a dark path. They can also hold you accountable and help you see different perspectives on the same problem. Whether you choose to go it alone or seek help, honesty is the best policy. Let go of judgment and self critique. This is not a time to start punishing yourself for poor life choices and wallow in self pity. This is your time to forgive yourself, give yourself a break for being human, then pick yourself up and start looking at where to go next.
Brainstorm Your Future
Now that you have uncovered some of your passions and you’ve opened your eyes to your current state of affairs, it’s time to brainstorm your way forward. Take the passion themes of your youth, your current skill sets, and your life experiences then start jotting down things that would make you happy on a daily basis. Don’t limit yourself to traditional job roles as you understand them now. Start with simple statements like: I want to help people learn new things, I want travel and try new foods and cultures, I want to make people laugh. Write it all down. Brainstorm all the ways you could use your skills and your passions to create a new life journey that will ultimately give your life greater purpose. What would that look like, how would it work? Remove all limitations and just dream it up. This is not a practical exercise. This is an exercise in imagination and dreaming big. It’s about combining everything that you have loved your entire life with things that you are good at and then incorporating your life experiences to create the life of your dreams.
Glance At The Big Picture Then Shrink It Down
Okay so some people will be put off by staring at this massive seemingly impossible dream. Others will start thinking of how many tiny little things need to be accomplished before you even get to your goal. The key is to stay in the Stigmatism zone, the middle ground. Once you have the big picture idea of what it is that will fulfill your life’s destiny, you can start backing off from the end goal. Start thinking what actions you can take in the next days, weeks, months that will set you on your way. The hard part in this phase is not to get too focussed on the overwhelming size of long term goal or the minutiae of the short term. Try to think of the very first hurdle you will need to overcome to set you on your way. From that one hurdle what are the steps that you can break down into actions over the next few weeks. Take things one month at a time. Reassess at the end of each month and plot for the next. At the end of three to six months stop to look at where you are, how much progress you’ve made, and if the end goal is still the same.
Be Flexible In Your Path
Be open to adaptations, new information adjusting your plan, and clear signs that something isn’t working or needs tweaking. Don’t stay so rigid in following your agenda that you miss the hurdles, speed bumps, and detours that will inevitably cross your path. If you miss them, you may realize when you get to your end goal, the vision you had is distorted and it doesn’t quite look like what you expected. All is okay though as every mistake is a lesson learned and no end is the end until THE END. Stay positive and try not to get frustrated. Detours from your determined path may be indications that your next step may not have been the next step. We all make mistakes and time is fluid. While you may have been certain that your next move was the right one when you planned it two months ago things may have changed quite a bit since then. People change, the world changes, we change and it is all good it is all part of the journey. Try to see it all as part of the fun, part of what gives us good party stories. It gives us anecdotes for the grandkids. It builds character, all of that good stuff that makes us who we are and why we are so important in this world.
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Happy dreaming my lovelies, until we meet again, take care.
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