How to make a life-defining decision slightly easier.
At 16 years old, I decided to become an accountant. I was excited to be pursuing this career path and believed at that point in time that this was going to be my life from now on.
Between balancing books and preparing statements, I’d be making insane amounts of money, own a massive house, and have a wealth of time to do various activities.
As an adult, I know how naive that way of thinking is at this point, however, there are still people who cling to that way of thinking to a degree.
Particularly in the aspect that your occupation is the sole defining thing of your life.
The reality is that’s not true. You’re still clinging to some aspects revolving around difficult decisions that you made as a teenager.
And let’s be honest, not every decision we made was a good decision back then.
Finding your own purpose takes time and consideration. You’ll want to explore different avenues and try different things as you explore.
But as someone who has an idea of what kind of life they want to lead, here are some suggestions to make the process a bit easier.
Understand And Embrace Your Values
When choosing a career path, the age old advice is to “follow your passions.” It’s always been terrible advice as we are passionate beings. There are several things that we care about and that motivate and inspire us.
Instead of that advice, it’s better to get an understanding and to accept your values when it comes to doing something that defines your life.
With many people voicing their opinions about ways of thinking and concepts, it’s worth asking yourself why you think this way.
This doesn’t just apply to things like politics, gender identity, climate change and race. This also applies to your work ethic, opinions of particular people, and more.
We’re multi-faceted beings and understanding what we value can help us piece together where we fit and what kind of contribution we ought to make in an area.
From there, it’s a matter of embracing these parts of ourselves. We can change them of course, but they shouldn’t be for the approval of others.
Our values are all different and there are going to be conflicting views. What matters in the end is you changing should be based on your decision.
Look At Injustices Around You
Every industry in the world has some negative aspects behind it.
Coal mining and fossil fuel is destroying our environment.
Electric vehicles are nice but companies are removing rare materials from the Earth to make them.
Network marketing is worth billions of dollars and is held by a small group of people while most in the industry make little to no money at all.
Self-improvement industry is filled with hacks who focus on selling dreams and excitement rather than sound practical advice that can genuinely help people.
The list goes on and on. And while there will continue to be problems, we can still work to fix those issues.
The key there is look for which ones you feel the strongest towards and strive to make something out of it.
Looking for injustices can also help you in understanding what you value further and how that can tie into other aspects of your life and interests too.
Reframe The Question
Often when people are asking “what is my life purpose?” they actually mean:
“What can I do with my time that is important?”
It’s a thought that Mark Manson has stated and is something that I agree with. It reframes the question so you’re not spending all your time and energy trying to find some kind of cosmic message that tells you “this is it.”
This is so important because you’re the only person who can determine what your own purpose is in life.
You’re the only one to know what is most important to you.
Some other ways you can reframe the question is:
- What kind of sacrifices or costs are you willing to pay?
- What about you today would make your younger self cry?
- What activities do you do that make you forget about doing basic human behaviour (eating, sleeping, etc.)?
- If you had to get outside all day every day, what would you do, and where would you go?
Asking yourself these different questions can identify various parts of your life. What you truly value, your pain tolerances, things you’re willing to give up, and more.
We all think we know ourselves pretty well, but psychological studies have shown time and again that we’re often delusional about our vision of ourselves.
As such, our purpose in life could change over time and that’s okay.
The main point is to find a direction you want to go in now and begin pursuing it. After all, purpose in our lives doesn’t suddenly strike us, it happens when we get out and do things.
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