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Here are 7 essential questions that will help you find your purpose and live with passion.
Remember when you were younger and you used to dream about what you wanted to be when you grew up? For a while, those dreams were encouraged, and we believed anything was possible.
We all come into this world with certain gifts to share. As children, we all had our dreams about who we wanted to be.
Then, as we got a little older, many of us are encouraged to be more practical and are nudged away from certain paths and toward others.
I have a vivid memory of myself as a little girl, maybe 6 years old, playing teacher with my little brother. As I got a little older, I dreamed about writing a book one day. I remember drawing a book cover and bringing it to show my parents and grandparents proclaiming confidently, “I’m going to write a book someday!”
What this book was going to be about I did not yet know, but I had designed a cover and even had an idea for a book title.
There’s also a memory I have of riding in my parents' backseat on long road trips, and a particular vision would pop into my mind often, without any thought or effort on my part. It was an image of me in front of a microphone before large groups of people. What was odd was that I wasn’t singing, for that was never a dream of mine. I was simply talking.
I had no idea what I was talking about, but apparently, I had something to share, and there were people there who valued what I had to say.
Fast forward a few years again and I’m in high school and, as we all do, I’m trying to get more clear, and practical, about what I want to be when I grow up. So I did like we are taught to do. I talked to the adults around me. I was told all the downsides of teaching; I was told by my journalism teacher that writers don’t make any money.
By the time I graduated from high school I was thoroughly confused, and had no idea what I was going to do with my life.
So many people find themselves in jobs that don’t light their soul on fire. Because somewhere along the way we abandoned our dreams.
Now, as adults, the rates of addiction, depression, and even anxiety, are at an all-time high. Even if we’re not experiencing dissatisfaction to that extreme, many, at the end of the day, find themselves eating, drinking, watching tv, or engaging in some other behavior more than they want to.
I believe one of the unspoken epidemics in society today is the existential crisis.
Way too many are moving through life numb, uninspired, lost… because they have no driving force within them. Many lack the clarity about who they are and what they want.
I believe that until we answer some crucial questions for ourselves, we are like a ship without a compass—moving through our lives with no clear purpose or sense of direction. And we feel lost.
That’s where I found myself twenty years ago.
Because I was graduating with no idea who I was or what I wanted, I spent a good portion of my senior year of high school feeling paralyzed. I actually went into a pretty deep depression because I was terrified by what I didn’t know.
So I did what society modeled for me. I graduated, went to college where I graduated with high honors, and got a decent-paying job.
And I continued to feel listless…
I remember vividly the Sunday afternoon feeling of dreading the week ahead, and spent most of my workdays watching the clock waiting for five o’clock to roll around.
I believe this is where so many find themselves, bored, uninspired, feeling like something is missing but not sure what.
What I’ve discovered in my twenty years as a life coach is that there are a lot of adults out there waiting for something to happen, all the while knowing they’re wasting precious time, and life is passing them by.
It doesn’t matter what job or house or car we have. Striving for the next best one usually doesn’t scratch that itch for very long.
In order to live a fulfilling life, wake up motivated and inspired every day, and go to bed feeling full and satisfied, we have to answer perhaps the two most important questions of our lives:
Who am I? And why am I here?
In my book and 12-week program, this section tends to be one of the most challenging for people. Turns out it’s not so easy to answer these questions when your attention was being diverted elsewhere all these years.
When I finally got dissatisfied enough, and desperate enough, I made some pretty radical, and scary, changes in my life.
I left my safe, comfortable corporate job and took a low-paying, unglamorous job at a shelter for homeless families, where I was to create educational programs to help homeless adults break the cycle of dependency.
I loved it. This ended up laying the foundation for who I am and what I do today: teaching, writing, and speaking to groups of all sizes.
One day I realized I had come full circle, realigning with my earliest childhood dreams.
Gone is that Sunday night feeling of dreading the week ahead. I no longer feel like my life is passing me by, and I’m waiting for something to happen.
I call this successful suffering: when we get dissatisfied enough, unhappy enough, fed up enough, that we are no longer willing to put our lives on hold.
If you’ve been living your life as if you’re waiting for something to happen, and you’re ready to stop waiting and start living a life of purpose and passion, a life you love…
HERE ARE THE 7 BEST QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU DISCOVER YOUR LIFE’S CALLING:
1. What are those things you love doing, that you’d be doing even if money were no issue?
These are the things love you doing, talking about, and investing your time, energy and money in. I have a friend who is passionate about health and wellness. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been committed to living a happy, active, healthy life. She’s taken personal training courses, yoga trainings, positive mindset retreats.
So it’s no surprise when I asked her what gifts, experiences and inspiration she would love to offer the world, her natural inclination was health and wellness.
2. Who would you have to be BEING now so that, on your deathbed looking back on your life, you would have no regrets?
The problem with waiting for something to happen is that all too often it never does. Because rarely does living a life you love happen by accident. In order to ensure you are living a life of purpose and passion, you have to create it by design. You create it by the choices that you make.
I once heard someone say every choice you make is a vote for the life you want. What are you voting for with the choices you are making every day?
Realize, it’s never too late to change your vote.
3. Go back to your dreams, or if you can’t remember them pick up where you left off. What do you dream about doing now?
One of my most inspirational friends has spent her life preparing to travel the world and make a living doing so. It took some planning and effort, but what a fun goal that must have been for her preparing to meet. Now, she is doing exactly what she envisioned, but only because she created her life by design. None of this fell in her lap by accident.
4. What natural skills and abilities, talents, and gifts might make you effective in doing that thing that you dream of doing?
I find it not at all ironic, now, that my childhood dreams seemingly organically met my natural skills and abilities. While some of my classmates in school preferred math homework and loathed essay assignments, I salivated over a good writing exercise, always eager to dive in. I took public speaking classes every chance I got and ultimately ended up with a Communication degree.
I had long ago given up on my dream to be a teacher, a writer, a speaker…or so I thought. But when I naturally followed my heart and gravitated toward those things I was good at, how interesting that they aligned so perfectly with those early visions from my childhood.
I know I’m not alone in this. I’m not special or unique in this way. I believe if we explore what we are naturally good at and love doing, we start to find our way back to our purpose, and our passion.
5. What is stopping you from taking a step in that direction?
What are the beliefs you’ve been operating under? What are the stories you’ve been telling yourself? What is keeping you from living the life of your dreams? Of your childhood dreams?
This is where some may say, I dreamt of being a ballerina, and at the age of 53, that’s just not possible. Or I wanted to be an astronaut, but at this point in my life, that ship has sailed.
But I would challenge you to dig a little deeper. What needs were those dream jobs filling? Did you want to be a ballerina because you wanted to be that comfortable and confident in your own skin, and to be able to move with that kind of grace and beauty and ease? Who says it’s too late for that?
I also dreamed of being a dancer but was never allowed to take a dance class. Now, as an adult, I’m a yoga teacher and yoga teacher trainer. For me, I’m completely satisfied, because I’m still enjoying so much of what being a dancer represented for me.
If you dreamt of being an astronaut, perhaps the deeper, underlying need was a thirst for adventure, and knowledge, and exploring new worlds. Perhaps a life of traveling the world would make you happier than you ever considered.
Instead of getting stuck in a story that the opportunity has passed you by, consider looking at whether or not that is really true. By thinking outside of the box, are there any other ways you could still be meeting the needs of your childhood dreams?
6. Is that a good enough reason?
Now that you’ve started to identify the beliefs that are holding you back from living purposefully and passionately—fully aligning with what lights your soul on fire so that you can live in the sweet spot of your life—is that a good enough reason? Is there some way you can start taking steps, even baby steps, every day to start moving you in the direction of your ideal life?
And finally, perhaps the most important question to consider out of them all is:
7. What will your life look like in 5 years if you don’t do anything differently? And what might it look like if you do?
Take some time to see each of these scenarios through in your mind. Which outcome stirs a fire within you? What are you willing to do TODAY to start moving your life, and your work, in that direction?
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