Imagine waking up to a routine 9-5 job, returning home drained, but too distracted by media, TV or everyday life to care, then going to sleep, only to wake up and do it all over again. This hamster-wheel-like phenomena is the reality for over 70% of the US population (Gallup Poll, 2015), where many feel unfulfilled in their jobs, but have adapted and stopped caring enough to act on it. They became comfortable with discomfort. The NY Daily News especially found this trend applicable to the "disenchanted millennials", the generation that restlessly craves more to life than just the expected cookie-cutter ‘go to school, graduate, find a stable job, buy a house, get married, and have kids’ lifestyle, yet often they end up choosing to ‘go with the flow’ instead of actively pursuing their dreams. Since only about 30% of graduates end up in a career related to their degree or major (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013), and riddled with college debt, it's understandably harder to see the bigger picture. For all of the metaphorical blood, sweat, and tears spent on that piece of paper, nobody told us that only 3 out of 10 would eventually end up in a career that they had hoped for.
Oprah Winfrey once stated, “Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure that out…I run into a lot of people that don’t know”. Discovering yourself and finding your calling is a process, but to get started, you’ll first have to understand your core values. What do you want to be remembered for, what do you stand for, and what gives you a sense of purpose? Make the decision to stop drifting along and sampling every opportunity that comes by, and instead, actively seek the ones that’ll lead you closer to that goal to make it a reality. If you settle, you are betraying yourself and your potential.
To get started, motivational speaker and author Tony Robbins often advises to, “…Establish where you are in your life today, where you hope to be, and then plan backwards from there in order to reach the life you imagine”. Ask yourself the following:
What are you afraid of?
What would you do if you only had 3 months left?
What would you do if fear or money were not a factor?
Where do you see yourself 5 or 10 years from now, and is that where you want to be?
Once you have a better understanding of what you truly want to pursue, you may be wondering, “Is this the right decision? How do I know if I’m on the right path?” When you’re heading in the right direction, you:
DON’T negotiate your sense of integrity or betray yourself and your values.
DON’T compromise your passion or psyche.
DON’T feel like it's work, but instead almost lose track of time.
DO leave feeling happy, full of life, inspired, and energized.
DO feel valued and worthy among peers.
DO feel like you are important, contributing to something bigger than yourself.
Now that you know you’re on the right path, how do you respond when others ask, “So, what do you do?” In a TEDx video, speaker Adam Leipzig encourages conciseness. Describe your job, explain how it impacts the people you do it for, and how it impacts you. People that had a clear understanding of their objective in life knew:
Who they were as an individual, or who they aimed to become
What they did
Who they did it for
What those people wanted or needed, and their impact
What they got out of it, or how they changed as a result
To confirm your findings, I recommend checking out the career aptitude and personality tests below. Even if they don't result in anything you may have liked or expected, it may give you a few ideas and things to think about:
Career Aptitude Test: https://www.whatcareerisrightforme.com/career-apti...
Find Your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Personality: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-t...
Find Your Strengths and Weaknesses: http://richardstep.com/richardstep-strengths-weakn..
Find What Motivates You: http://richardstep.com/self-motivation-quiz-test/
Although you’ll discover many supporters once you find your fulfillment in life, there may also be naysayers that will try to derail you with criticism, negativity, jealousy, etc. - don’t be reactive – put on your blinders and focus on the bigger picture. Although your dreams may evolve over time, keep in mind that the biggest champion or saboteur of them will always be yourself, and that your attitude regarding the future is entirely in your hands.