Many people at some point in their life find themselves asking, “what is my purpose in life?”. This question may be followed up with questions like, “why am I here?”, and “is this all there is?”.
Most of us can be divided into two distinct groups. Among the first group are those that grew up without a clue as to what they wanted to do or be. They probably weren’t even too concerned about it, they just went about their day-to-day lives and let things happen.
The other group grew up knowing exactly what they wanted to be from an early age. Most of them had all kind of grand ideas. They wanted to be astronauts, or doctors or presidents or prime ministers. Some had more mundane goals. I can remember and assignment given to my grade three class in which we were to choose our dream job and then list the reasons why. As you might expect most of the eight year olds in the room picked exciting jobs like the aforementioned astronaut, or ninja, or fighter pilot. But one girl’s dream job was to “work in a bank”.
Now a funny things happens to some of the people from both groups. When it happens varies from person to person, it could be when they are teenagers, or it could be much later when they are in their forties or fifties or even older. What happens is that some people from both of these groups split off and join a third group. This is the group starts asking themselves those questions mentioned at the beginning of this article.
Members of the first group may start to question their day-to-day life. They might decide suddenly that a job that has earned them a living for year is no longer satisfying. Maybe they are financially secure enough that money is no longer a strong enough motivator. They start to feel strongly that they need “more” but they just aren’t sure what more is.
Among the second group Suzie might discover that working in a bank is kind of boring and doesn’t pay very well. Joey will probably realize that there isn’t much demand for ninja services these days. With a new dose of reality both have discovered that they don’t really want these things they were so so sure about as children.
The common trait of this new third group thus becomes that they have a clear picture of what they don’t want, and not the foggiest clue about what they do.
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The first thing most people in this situation would do is ask friends or family members for advice.
Good luck with that.
Unless your friends or family are asking themselves the same question you are, they are unlikely to by sympathetic to your plight. They’ll probably try to give you some well-intentioned advice, but in most cases it’s not going to help you because the fact is no one else can find your passion for you.
It is east to know what we don’t want. Usually we have experienced a taste of it, and found that taste bitter. Sometimes just getting a whiff of it will be enough to send us running in the other direction. This is actually the key to discovering what we do want.
The key is to try things. Experience them, and learn.
But what if you don’t know what to try? That will be covered in Part II.