What do you want to do when you grow up?
It's the question we have been asked since kindergarten, if not sooner.
In my first grade essay, I said I wanted to be a nurse.
In fifth grade, I said attorney.
The first time I went to college, I decided to become an English teacher.
The second time I went to college, I thought I'd be a writer.
By my third try at college, I was no longer focused on what I wanted to do. I just wanted to graduate.
I took my first post-bachelor's degree job out of the need to make money. It was not a career that necessarily fell in my field, but the problem was, I didn't know what my "field" was.
I knew my skill set.
I had leadership skills
I was a good listener.
I was a good problem solver.
I was a fairly decent writer.
I had extensive knowledge in nutrition.
I knew what I liked.
I liked helping and motivating people.
I liked to write.
I loved physical activity, in particular, yoga and running.
I was committed to healthy eating.
People encouraged me to explore a variety of fields based on these lists. Personal trainer, nutritionist, therapist. But to all of the prior, I said no. None of those careers felt "right."
But finally, at the age of 40, it hit me.
I had been asking myself the wrong question.
It's not what we want to do that matters. What matters is who we want to be.
Because once we become aware of our life's purpose, everything else falls into place.
Our purpose is not about what we do to make money. Our purpose is related to why were are here, now, in this lifetime, on this earth. Our purpose is more spiritual than occupational. Our purpose may be related to helping, serving, healing, teaching, guiding, inspiring, loving.
Some of you may have discovered your purpose at a young age. For those impossibly late bloomers such as myself, realizing your purpose is about cultivating self awareness. Listen to yourself. What inspires you? When do you feel your best? What was your favorite part of your day and why? Meditation is a great tool for getting to know yourself. Your real self, the one that lies underneath the wants and the fears and the resentments. You don't have to force your purpose or decide what your purpose is. Your purpose is there already. You were born with it. Now, you just have to remain quiet enough to realize what it is.
Some of us are lucky enough to have career paths that complement our purpose. As a yoga instructor, I can bring my purpose, in its purest form, to every class I teach. As a blogger, I can toss around purpose driven topics in my posts to my heart's content.
However, we can and should bring our purpose to any job we perform, from parenting, to running a company, to cooking dinner, to being a barista at Starbucks. When we apply our purpose to whatever is in front of us, we make the world a better place.
I'm also convinced that applying our purpose to our work life will change the way we look at work forever.
In the fall, I will be pursuing more paid work opportunities. I may find consulting jobs based on my past experience in the corporate world. Perhaps I'll teach more yoga, or I may be that barista behind the counter at Starbucks.
It doesn't matter much what I'll be doing. It's who I am while doing it that counts.
© 2012 Ilene Evans
This post is part of the Mama's Losin' It writing workshop link up.
The prompt I used was this: Share something you learned embarrassingly late in life.