Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer. But my quintessential Indian father thought it was a terrible idea, and well, so did everyone else I knew. Eventually, with lousy teachers and being in the wrong stream (IT Engineering), I resigned myself to a purposeless existence. But after graduation, I could not conform myself anymore. That’s why I step into the world of writing.
Soon, I learned that my childhood dream was not to be taken lightly. In seven years, I figured out what I wanted to write and why. I also wrote two books and launched a blog. For the first time in my life I felt that I was making a difference in the world. But then the pandemic came and everything changed.
Suddenly, I began to feel that I was no longer pursuing my purpose. My contribution to the world didn’t seem impressive enough. I tried to resist this stream of thought because I knew words are powerful, and mine definitely helped people. Plus, I didn’t want to rock the career boat after all my struggles. I expected this was only a phase brought on by the uncertainty of the pandemic. But as the days turned into months, my thoughts remained the same. I took a deep breath and realized that I had to rediscover my purpose.
The prospect of starting again was daunting. Besides, I had never heard of anyone needing to rediscover purpose. But upon introspection and research, it became clear that this was normal, just not talked about as often as it should. As people change and evolve, so do their purposes. Once I accepted this fact, I set out to rediscover my purpose. I did it by following the below steps.
1. Adopt the Beginner Mindset
As the term indicates, a beginner’s mindset is about seeing things through the eyes of a beginner. In this context, you need to explore your interests and values as if you are doing it for the first time. Disregard your likes, dislikes, prejudices, and opinions about yourself and the world in general. Leave all your professional knowledge so that your mind is like a clean slate.
It’s easier said than done, but you need to get into this headspace. For example, I believed that writing was the only purpose of my life. Even when I didn’t feel that way anymore, it was still hard for me not to cling to this belief. Once I left it, I felt like I had a world of possibilities. And I’m sure you’ll feel the same way when you adopt a beginner’s mindset.
“Life happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” – Alan Saunders
2. Take Some Career Tests
Now that you have a beginner’s mindset, this step should be easy for you. Pretend that you are a graduate student who has no idea what you want to do in life. Then go ahead and take some career assessment tests. Do 3-5 tests and save the results of each. Each test will show you a bunch of careers that might be a good fit for you. Zero in on career options that interest you and career options that show up again and again. Make sure you focus on the change you want to make in the world rather than the common ‘follow your passion’ cliché.
Once you have done that, you will have a list of potential careers in which you can excel because you have the necessary qualifications. You are off to a good start! Now all you have to do is marry your strengths and interests. This requires you to do enough research into what each career involves in relation to job responsibilities and how they align with your interests and personality. Doing so will help you further narrow down your list of professions. For example, if you’re an introvert who dislikes attention, and you’re a potential career actor, this isn’t a good fit. Full disclosure: That’s the only reason I had to act off my list.
3. Write What You Want and Don’t Want
In my experience, the results of a career exam can be overwhelming. Like me, you are likely to find a long list of possible careers. Having too many choices can lead to anxiety, confusion, and analysis paralysis. I thought the best way to deal with this issue was to write things down. So I made a list of things I need and a list of things I don’t want in my professional life.
One of the items on my ‘don’t want’ list states that I don’t want to work with people with major mental health problems. And one of the items on my ‘wish’ list says I want to help people with mental health issues. Only after figuring this out can I choose between counseling psychology and clinical psychology.
4. Listen to Your Gut Instinct
Once you complete the above steps, you should have one or two solid career options in front of you. When you can’t choose one, or if you have a long list, you know who you should trust, right? Your gut instinct. Even when you have all the data you need, your gut instinct is powerful and should not be ignored.
At the end of my assessment, I was torn between being a counselor and a life coach. Both options change lives for the better. But my mind said that I would be far more suited in the field of counseling than in coaching. Also, I always wanted to study psychology. So I have enrolled in Masters in Counseling Psychology. And now, I can’t wait for classes to start!
I hope this four-step process helps you rediscover your purpose in life. And once you do, make sure you pursue it. self motivation helps and therefore has public accountability. I just did this by making a public announcement. Remember, no one has all the answers, and life is unpredictable. The smartest way to avoid regrets and be successful is to give your best shot.