Written by Heather Hans
Published by Everyday Power
Everyone talks about how important it is to live your calling. But, what if you don’t know your calling? What if your calling has changed over time? Is it OK to want many different things out of life? How do you know if you are living your best life?
Self-discovery can be a challenging and often never-ending pursuit. A variety of strengths & personality tests can be taken to discover one’s greatest assets, however, synthesizing them into one career that lasts a lifetime is not realistic for everyone. Human beings are complex and constantly undergo developmental changes. Likewise, the market and demand of the culture can be fickle and is in a constant state of flux. Therefore, if you find it difficult to figure out what you really want in life, you are not alone.
Here are six reasons why it’s so hard to figure out what you really want out of life and what you can do about it:
1.) A big part of development is self-discovery, which lasts a lifetime.
No life form exists that is static, and human beings are a prime example. Philosophers have proposed that the entire purpose of life is to discover your true nature. Individuals who have curious minds want to learn about themselves and the world in which they live. Like an onion, as we uncover one layer of ourselves, a new layer is revealed. This self-discovery process never ends. Once you accept the process, rather than the destination as your guide, you can relax into doing what you want in this moment in time and being open to changing desires in the future. We cannot stop change. Doing so leads to death.
2.) Many people were not raised to lead using their intuition, but instead focus outwardly to determine what is correct.
Ideally one follows their intuition while navigating the outer world with mastery. Cultures throughout the world have established norms as to what is proper and acceptable behavior. Rules are necessary in order to have a functional society; however, it can be taken to an extreme, particularly when for-profit businesses get their hands in the influential mix. We all know that it’s not what other people want for you or think you should have that make you happy. The decision must come from within you in order to produce satisfaction.
One of the best ways to focus on your intuition and determine what is truly desirable to you is to pay attention to your body sensations. If something leads to contraction and unpleasant body sensations, these cues should be honored. On the other hand, when your body feels an expansion and sensations that delight you, it’s a good indicator that you are on the right track.
3.) Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Harvard Professor & Historian said, “Well behaved women seldom make history,” but fear prevents people from making history.
The masses of people live in fear presently. People block a lot of what they want because they can think of endless reasons to be afraid and it takes courage to have faith and receive criticism from others for stepping out on a limb. Some studies suggest that the biggest fear of Generation Y (adults currently age 20-35) is not fitting in and being approved of by their peers. Under the pressure to conform, one must squash their own desires, which is why “groupthink” can be oppressive and lowers creativity.
Though there are no quick solutions to this dilemma, patience, perseverance, and confidence must be practiced. Remember what Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Keep your eye on the prize and know that in the end others will admire you for your bravery and originality. Most importantly, you will respect yourself for staying true to yourself. It doesn’t matter whether your pursuit leads to worldly success. What matters is that you exercised courage in the name of alignment with the spirit within.
4.) As humans develop through the lifecycle, their perspectives and attitudes change.
A key learning point in my psychotherapy training was that our perspectives change over time. This statement is true even for very specific incidents. For example, as a child, you may have feared being left alone in your room, while as an adult you may love alone time. Or, perhaps you had an argument with someone years ago that now, looking back, you see in a different light. The reason for these perspective shifts is that time and experience change our thinking. An event may happen that inspires you to advocate for a particular cause that you may have not cared about in the past.
In order to navigate the uncertainties of life and what the future holds, you must be alert for messages and synchronicities in your life. If an opportunity presents itself that was not part of your plan, it could be the universe directing you toward an ultimate destiny of which you are not yet aware. Remember that there is always a force larger than you at play.
5.) Rewards come to those who follow their longings and their desire for truth.
All the twists and turns it takes to get to the ultimate destination is part of the destination, the same way that running a marathon is the main event that precedes crossing the finish line. We learn by comparing and contrasting, and it’s impossible to do so without experiencing a lot of what you don’t want. The next time you find yourself in an undesirable circumstance, you must remember that it only serves to enhance a future desirable circumstance. Also, as you get older, you have an accumulation of years from which to look back and spot the one or two things you’ve always wanted. Those things are what you are meant to express and achieve in your lifetime!
6.) Life is infinite. There is no end to it; no final destination.
Once you understand the true nature of life, that energy cannot be destroyed but only transformed, you can relax because you’ll understand that there is no “one destiny” for you. Every moment offers a new reality, a new perspective, and a new set of choices. You are the artist and the world is your canvas. You are here to create. What you create is less important than why you create, which is to show gratitude and enthusiasm for the life you’ve been given, and to enjoy yourself in the process!
Finding what you really want in life is hard. You may believe that other people clearly know what they want and that you are missing some piece or clue, but it’s not true. Even though I knew what excited me as a child, it took me several careers and many twists and turns to arrive at my passion. Furthermore, my passion and the opportunities I seize continue to unfold in unexpected ways. When I cling to details of how I think it’s supposed to happen, it leaves me frustrated and discouraged. But when I view each phase of my life and career as its own developmental era, comprised of certain works, I am free to adapt to my increasing potential and the world’s changing demands.
You, too, can find your way with a balance of openness and staying true to your heart at any given time. There’s no need to worry about one final calling because your calling is ultimately the series of experiences called your life.
Heather Hans, LCSW, MSW, MBA, CPIC, is an internationally renowned Visionary, Healer & Teacher, and the author of The Heart of Self-Love: How to Radiate with Confidence. It is Heather's firm belief that loving oneself is necessary to have fulfilling relationships and a successful life. To have Heather's inspiration delivered directly to your inbox sign up for her Newsletter (your email will NEVER be shared).