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Discovering Who You Are is Life’s Work

Aug 27, 2019

Maybe it's because graduation just came and went, or because people try to remember being a kid in the throes of summer. It feels like there's been an over-abundance of statements made around how it's the job of a young adult to discover and define themselves.

Several times a week, this phrase has popped up in conversation, news stories, podcasts. I'm throwing down the BS flag!

While it's true that fostering and exploring interests is needed in youth, it's also true that figuring out who you want to be and what you want to do with your life is rarely figured out during this time. The human brain isn't fully developed until the age of 25 in young men, 23 for young women. The pressure that society puts on us to have it all figured out is both unnecessary and limiting. It's a significant contributor to the stress and anxiety so much of the population is experiencing, so it's no wonder the anxiety rate of teens has also escalated.

Add to this the "passion" pressure. Some really do identify a way of living life at an early age. They intrinsically know who they want to be and what they want to do with their lives. The misnomer is that we are all supposed to (a) have a singular passion, and (b) have it identified and secured by our late 20s. If you're reading this, there's a high probability you know this isn't true. It's not what happens. Even those who figure it out at a young age tend to have a "crisis" in their lives because what worked for them all along no longer serves them.

I subscribe that — after much distress and wine-fueled philosophical discussions of what my passion is — we have the freedom to not have a singular passion or any particular passion at all. Many people have varied interests, interests that change as they learn and explore. Not having a passion does not make anyone less of a person or a contributing member of society.

Instead, think about purpose. Who are you meant to be, and what did you come here to do? Spend time discovering who you are as a person… and who you want to become.

Take some comfort in knowing that part of the journey through life is to examine, test, and try out who you want to be and how you want to show up in the world. At its essence, this has nothing to do with a job/career path. This is about becoming and being. I, for one, am on a lifetime quest to understand how and why people behave, self-included. It's part of the fun.

Ways to explore purpose:

1. Identify your values and beliefs — what do you believe in strongly? What makes you mad? What makes you happy and is a consistent thread in your life?

2. Spend time being grateful — what do you love about your life? What's the good that's going on around you? Who do you appreciate?

3. Ask yourself often — what kind of person do I want to be? How often am I that person? What would make me more of that preferred person?

4. Ask yourself often part 2 — what did I come here to do? Am I doing it? If not, what would I need to start doing to get closer to my desired outcome?

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