Have you ever felt stuck in life? As in—you have no idea what you want to do in the future, what direction to take, what will make you feel so passionate about anything that “you won’t have to work a day in your life.” It’s not a great feeling.
Well, you are not alone.
According to a Gallup poll done a few years back among U.S. teenagers, the fear of being a failure and not succeeding in life was at number four. More specifically, the dread was about “making mistakes that will mess up my life,” “not measuring up,” “not leaving a mark.”
It’s a fear we all carry around in ourselves.
But then, there are the stories of the self-made entrepreneurs—those few lucky ones—who have found their life’s purpose and have “made it” by following their passion.
While this is all really inspiring, one can’t help but wonder—how do we exactly go about finding out what our true vocation in life is? How do we become part of this lucky pack? Is “follow your passion” enough to make us fulfilled? What about profitable?
That is, what is the secret concoction that will make us content, be worthwhile and rewarding financially—all at the same time?
Here are three approaches you can undertake to help yourself find your genuine calling in lif
1. Build Self-knowledge
This first strategy may be very intuitive and straight-forward, but surprisingly, many may find it challenging. Because you need to really slow down, look inward and reflect consciously on your strengths and goals, on what makes you come alive. Not the easiest thing to do with our go-go-go lifestyles.
Self-knowledge is imperative to success, though. Daniel Coleman, the New York Times best-selling author and psychologist, considers self-awareness to be the first ingredient of “emotional intelligence,” –the soft skill which makes up 90% of the difference between successful leaders and the rest.
Psychologists tell us that building self-awareness can be achieved through meditation, paying attention to our behavior (how we react to certain triggers) or by seeking feedback from others.
That is, wise men tell us, if you want to become a better draft of yourself, make self-reflection a daily habit. You may find a whole new universe within you you never knew existed.
2. Recognize that passion doesn’t always equal your life’s calling
Recently, we hear more and more the persistent buzz that “follow your passion” is not a sustainable thing to pursue. Not entirely by itself.
From scientists and gurus to executives, it transpires that passion is important, but it should not be followed with a blind oblivion. At least not solely, especially when we start out with a new venture or a job even. We still need to make a living.
So, what’ s the Goldilocks solution here?
One way to find a (money-making) vocation is to “pay attention to those things that you devote most time to…and double your investment there,” as self-made billionaire Mark Cuban advises. There may be many things we are passionate about, but it doesn’t mean we can excel at them—we may not have the talent, for instance, to become the best—think about professional sports. Passion doesn’t equal profitability.
According to some recent research, a good way to excel is to follow the R-Square—combine passion with purpose. This means that we can link the things we enjoy doing—like socializing or learning—to a broader picture—of helping others, of improving, of doing something bigger than ourselves.
That is, “side hustles” can turn out to become your life’s legacy in the end but do your homework first before you decide to take the plunge.
We all know the famed maxim: It’s ok to fail. What’s important is to get up and keep trying.
Yet, many are stuck in the same rut—the same job for the past 10 years, the same habits, environment, circle of people. They keep complaining they hate their work, life, everything really, yet they don’t do much beyond this—be it our of fear, comfort or pure procrastination. “Playing it safe” is a sheltered way of life indeed.
But chances are that the changes you crave are very unlikely to happen if you always follow the same routine.
A better strategy is to figure out what you are good at, what makes you excited and go after it. The best part? It doesn’t have to be a radical overnight transformation. Strive for 1% better than yesterday—which, by the principle of compounding, comes up to 3800% improvement in one year! It’s called the Kaizen effect and it can work magic for self-improvement.
The grass may not be greener on the other side, but you don’t always know for sure now, do you? It may as well be bright emerald. Or, as Robin Sharma put it so eloquently: “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”
Fortune favors the bold.
. . .
In the end, passion and profit don’t have to viewed as binary outcomes. It’s very attainable for everyone to do what they love and prosper. But firstly, you must discover what it is that you love, which of these things can feed both of your bank account and your need for purpose and take the first step.
It’s not easy. It may even feel like you are not moving at all or going backwards at times. But remember, while the quest for your own P-square—passion and purpose—is by no means an effortless undertaking, it’s still movement, evolution, progress, growth. Better than stagnation.
And when you still have doubts if you should even try, think about the Rut—is this how you envisage the rest of your life to be?
This piece originally appeared on Addicted2Success.