How to Pursue your Purpose
Like any great story, the hero must begin their journey by mustering enough courage to leave what’s always felt safe and comfortable. Much like an adventure leading into a dark forest, your own pursuit of purpose can feel very similar. The terrain is new, it’s unexplored, and it can make you feel totally alone.
Many times following our life purpose means stepping away from where we are right now (some are short steps, others are looooooong!). Maybe we pursued the original career path to please someone else - or it was luck that the job fell in our lap. Whatever the reason is that we find ourselves longing for more - everyone experiences the voice inside their head. The voice whispers things like there’s more than this - could you imagine if you do this instead, and a host of other tricks to get you thinking outside of your current career trajectory.
Many simply listen to the voice, ignore it, and continue marching on forever. Others listen more carefully, and even after the fear of changing kicks in they are still left with the voice telling them that something else is out there waiting.
One of my favorite books is The Alchemist where the lead character is following a dream he had that takes him from the life of a Shepherd making a decent living with his sheep to traveling to the Great Pyramids in search of treasure. Along the way, the Universe unfolds his path - and although the journey contained many ups and downs, the path always revealed itself and supported him moving towards his purpose.
As inspiring as this story is (still one of the top books of all time!), it doesn’t discredit the difficult journey that we all face when we pursue our purpose.
I remember a couple of key moments in my life where I felt ready to take the plunge and do something without knowing the outcome. When I first decided to go move to Boston for Graduate school, it felt like a lonesome decision to make at first. When you take on something new and exciting, it activates your primal instincts and stress levels to help protect you. When this happens, it can feel, especially when the fear sets in, that you’re the only one feeling all of the feels! Things like indecision, anxiety, anger, sadness, loss, and pure fear about what was going to happen after you made your decision.
Luckily for us, the great stories with a hero all have a common theme of overcoming that initial fear of leaving your comfort zone. It can be hard in our modern stories to see the commonalities between us and others who have dared to pursue what they love, so here are my hero tips to help you begin step into your next adventure.
Look behind you: It can seem counter-intuitive to look behind you, but there’s a reason you’re standing on the edge. When you decide that where you are is not where you want to be, looking back can be a perfect reminder of the reason you are ready to move forward.
What’s the worst that can happen? My all time favorite question and with good reason. When we begin planning for the future (one we don’t know much about yet) we begin coming up with various scenarios and what ifs. Well, write all of those what ifs downs, AND what you can do to mitigate them.
Who’s cliff is it anyway? Our friends, family, co-workers all have their own experiences with the cliff and some are great, while others are scary. Remember that this cliff is yours, and yours alone. So what you experience will always be, in some part, different from everyone else’s experience.
Grow into your real self: The look ahead from here you are might start feeling a little narrow, like you’re heading into the thick of the forest. When you begin to only feel that fear, take a moment to remember that once you past that point, you are stepping into your own territory, where the rules are what you decide they are.
Once you’ve stepped into your first hero adventure or stepped off your purpose cliff, it will be the most rewarding and life changing experience. The minds will try and fool with us once on the edge because it knows that there is a big change coming. Don’t mistake your excitement for the adventure with the mind’s interpretation of fear. You. Got. This. Now go off and find that treasure!