When you do, everything will fall into place
Do you know yourself?
If the answer is yes, read no further. You are probably on denial but at least you are confident. Good luck.
If the answer is no, join the club.
To know what your mission in life is, first you have to know who you are.
We are trapped in our heads and that makes difficult to find good answers to the self questions. Sometimes it seems easier to know others rather than ourselves.
But why is it so difficult?
Several reasons but these are the main ones in my opinion:
It’s a miracle that imagination survives formal education.
For the first 20 years of our lives we are hammered to conform, we are forced to follow the standard education system that is designed to produced useful robots for society. Your inclinations or your talents don’t matter, you are measured on how similar you are to your peers and any deviation is punished and corrected.
Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
The system pushes you through a funnel and when you are released at the other end you are a mediocre and bitter salaryman ready to join the production line.
This leaves you very confused about who you are and what do you want in life and worse of all with too little confidence and too much fear to change lines. You’ve been broken.
Social pressure, ego and competitiveness.
When you are already playing the game of doing the job you hate, your social circle wants you to stay there…forever.
Follow the rules, go through the motions, play the social game, complain about the job or the politics in the cafeteria but never quit! That’s not allowed because if you do, they’ll have to start questioning themselves and all their excuses.
As a prize, you get to enjoy your weekends, mostly watching TV and getting drunk, to forget the dreariness of life but don’t forget, every Monday morning you start all over again.
Because this game would be insufferable, people try to find some side incentives, some mental escape, some distractions.
Competition is one of them. When you are stuck in a rut, at least you can try to be better than your peers to make it more interesting. You learn how to climb the ladder, how to get a pay rise, how to play politics and how to show off. You still hate your life but at least you are winning. Seeing other people worse off than you offers some consolation. Of course this competitiveness feeds your ego and become an addiction that’s hard to quit.
Denial and sunk cost fallacy.
Let’s say you become an accountant and after working at it for a few years you realize that it’s not for you. What do you do? Do you quit throwing away all the time and money invested? Or Do you persevere hoping than one day you’ll enjoy a comfortable retirement thanks to your 401k?
If you choose the latter, you are in a path to a miserable existence, a Faustian bargain, a way to trade your life away for nothing.
You will succumb to rationalizations, to act the sensible way and will become a victim of cognitive dissonance — If I quit now that will be stupid, I’m not stupid so I can’t quit- Your mind will play tricks on you to stop you from taking risks therefore protecting the status quo.
These are some of the reasons why we are very confused about who we really are and what we want to do in life. No wonder why, with so many strings pulling in opposite directions, we get paralyzed by fear.
So what can we do to discover our mission in life?
First, separate the monetary reward from the activity. Ask yourself: Would I do this job for free? If the answer is no you need to quit and find something else.
It sounds unrealistic, almost irresponsible but if you are working just for the money you are paying a huge price for it — your life.
Yes, of course, you need money and you have bills to pay, I’m not advocating to retire to a cave in the mountains and live off Ginger roots but the fact that you need to be bribed to produce output is not a good sign at all and you have to start making small changes now.
Obviously you need a plan, patience, do some research, soul searching, try different approaches and eventually take the leap but up until then you have to use every spare minute you have in your life to get ready to switch.
So instead of Netflix, drinking, social media, going out or playing games you have to give all you’ve got to your new life. At first it will seem that giving up all those “fun” activities is hard but soon you’ll realize that your addiction to mind dumbness was a side effect of being deeply unhappy with your life. You were using all that as an escape from dreary, when you are fulfilled you don’t need all that. Who wants to escape from paradise anyway?
You won’t need crunches anymore when your leg is healed.
Think about this, how much time and energy you put into the things you love? Taking care of your family, traveling, your favorite sport or hobby. When you are engaged in these activities you are in the zone, you give it your 100%, you don’t get paid, in fact it costs you money and yet you could do it for the rest of your life and you wish you could.
When you are in this frame of mind you are unstoppable, if that was your job, you would be the best in the world at it and also the happiest you’ll ever be.
Compare that to the job you do now where you barely go through the motions and at best you are giving it your 10%. Where is the other 90%? Doesn’t it sound like a huge waste? Are you prepared to throw away 90% of you potential for the rest of your life? This sounds like suicide to me.
So how do you find your purpose in life?
Chances are you already know but you keep lying to yourself, we all do. It’s just that we stand in the way to the obvious. There are certain patterns you keep repeating in your life that offer clear clues about you and what you are about. The books you read and reread, the conversations that excite you, what you day dream about. All these, point you in the right direction. Observe yourself. See what you do, not what you say you do.
You must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.
If you don’t like Jazz, you don’t like Jazz, no matter how many times you tell yourself and others, if you don’t find yourself listening to Jazz very often and really immersed on it then Jazz is not your thing, full stop. Nothing wrong with that. Give it up and keep searching.
I’m guilty of this. For years I’ve been telling myself that I want to be a programmer, a hacker even but despite buying the books, joining the courses and starting the projects nothing ever came to fruition. Why? I love technology but going so specific into it it’s not my thing. I’m more of a generalist and I don’t have the focus or the inclination to do anything worthwhile with coding. My body has been telling me this for years but I didn’t listen. You vote with your feet everyday, listen to them.
Your feet know you better than your mind.
Sometimes we get distracted by how cool an activity sounds, how much prestige will bring us, how in demand it is or how much money it pays. But all those are the wrong reasons to pursue a career. You won’t be able to sustain yourself in a path that is not you. You vote with your feet, when you love something you keep doing it over and over again.
Be aware, be very aware.
Observe yourself from the outside, as if you were an stranger. That way you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Ask people to describe you. There are hundreds of clues you leave behind everyday that are like an open window into you true self.
Have a look at your Google search history, the blogs you read (mine, anyone?), the books you find interesting. What makes you feel alive?
Ask your friends, your family. Often they know better than you because they are more objective and less invested than you. Start a diary, let your ideas free flow to see where they take you.
Forget about the perks, forget about the end result.
If you don’t love the journey you won’t love the destination.