A dear friend wrote to me last week in desperation. She’s been struggling to figure out what to do with her life and asked me how I discovered my life’s purpose.
The scenic route…
I immediately replied with full admission that my career path has certainly taken the scenic route! Honestly, I’ve changed my mind so many times about what I want to do…and what my purpose is…and it’s still evolving and changing all the time.
My original plan in life was to be a music teacher and that’s what I studied my first year of college. I learned quickly I didn’t want to do the same thing every freakin’ day…and I just don’t like kids that much. (Don’t judge.)
I had no idea what to do instead though. I narrowed down my major to either journalism or psychology and ultimately picked psychology because I didn’t want to be a starving writer. (Oddly enough, I’m a writer now and I’m definitely NOT starving.)
But even still, I had no idea what I was going to do with a psych degree.
From there, I got interested in law, crime, psychopaths and weird shit like that. I thought it might be cool to fight crime and psychoanalyze weirdoes so I made the decision to pursue a career as a criminal profiler for the FBI.
It was a long road to get there though. I had to go on to the police academy or law school after getting my psych degree if I wanted to be a candidate for the FBI.
So…I became a cop. And hated every fucking minute of it.
I hated third shift. I hated punks giving me a hard time and not respecting me. I hated how I was always on edge, worrying about some criminal shooting at me or punching me in the face or something equally as terrifying.
I worked as a cop for only 7 months and threw in the towel.
Some people said I didn’t have what it took to be a cop and that’s why I quit. Some people said that spending all that time and money in the police academy was a waste.
But for me, finding out what I DIDN’T want to do was one of the things that put me on the path to discovering the work I love to do.
Even though I hated police work, I still had the dream of working for the FBI. So I went the law school route instead.
But…I didn’t get accepted to any of the law schools I applied to.
Feeling like a reject failure, I went to plan B (well, at this point, it was like plan F!) and looked for schools that offered dual degrees in law and social work.
I knew I could get into a social work program no problem. So my plan was to get in, prove myself capable of graduate level work, and then apply to the law program and get in. That’s what led me to University of Denver…it was one of the only programs in the country that offered the dual degree.
So, I started the social work program and took some law classes in my first year to get my feet wet and make some connections that would set me up to get accepted to law school the next year.
Only one problem…I HATED everything about law school. I hated the professors, the students, the classes, the culture, the arrogance, the arguing. Again, I walked down a path only to find that it wasn’t what I wanted.
But something really interesting happened…
…I fell in love with social work and it was all kinda by accident because I never set out to be a clinical social worker. I didn’t even really know what they did until I started grad school and then this whole new world opened up to me…and I just couldn’t get enough.
I did a lot of different clinical work while in grad school and then did other clinical work after graduating.
One job led to another totally different job. With each new experience, I learned more and more about what I liked and what I didn’t. What I loved to do and what I dreaded doing. What kind of people I liked working with and what kind of people made me want to stab my eyes out.
But working for several different companies helped me realize that I can’t stand being micromanaged. I wanted to be my own boss, setting my own rules, making my own schedule, having flexibility and freedom without anyone telling me what I could or couldn’t do…
…which is what led me to building my own wellness center and online business.
I’m not going to lie…starting my own business was scary as shit. I wasn’t sure I had what it took.
I knew close to nothing about operating a business, or branding, or marketing, or how to get clients…
But I knew I wanted to help people, I wanted to be my own boss, and I wanted to build something unique and different, so I just made a promise to myself that I’d figure it out and do whatever it took to make it happen.
And it was a whole shit ton of work…with a lot of mistakes and failures along the way. But I learned from each one and readjusted to create better outcomes.
And each experience, the good and the bad, continue to guide me and reveal more and more about my true purpose.
I love the work I do.
There’s hardly ever a day when I don’t want to come to work, and on the days I just want to stay home, it’s because I’m tired or cranky or some other stupid reason; not because I don’t like the work I do or the people I get to work with.
But even now, I still want more. I’m still figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life…which is why I recently started teaching classes at the local college and am working on writing another book.
So, let me just summarize this very long story and share with you what I’ve learned:
You’ll never have it all figured out and you’ll never “arrive” at your destination.
You’re always changing, evolving, and growing. As such, what you want, the path you choose, and the work you feel called to do will also change. Let all those changes happen and don’t put pressure on yourself to pick just one thing and stick with it forever.
Always be doing a lot of stuff.
Don’t depend on just one thing to make you happy, pay the bills, create total fulfillment, etc.
Always be knocking on lots of doors, doing different activities, or have a side hustle. By engaging in numerous things, you’ll discover your true passions and skills while adding tremendous value to the world. And, you’ll connect with all the right people to help you get to where you want to go next.
Focus more on the “what” and “why” and not on the “how” and “when”.
Allow yourself to dream big. Think of the life that would make you want to do backflips and scream with joy. What does that look like? How would you spend your time? Where would you go? Who would you hang out with? How would you serve people? What makes you come alive?
Then ask yourself why you would do all of this. How would it feel to be living this way right now? If you can get clear on the what and why, the Universe will figure out the how and when and make it become a reality. Now, of course you have to show up everyday and take action but for every one step you take, the Universe takes 10,000 steps on your behalf.
PASSION + SKILL
So, ask yourself…what are you passionate about?
And don’t sensor yourself or pigeon hole your answer into something you could draw a paycheck from. Just let yourself be honest about it.
Maybe you’re passionate about watching Netflix, or reading gossip magazines, or Pinterest projects. That’s cool. Write it down. Write down all your passions.
Then, ask yourself…what are you skilled at?
What comes naturally to you that other people struggle with? What feels like a walk in the park for you but feels like complete torture to someone else. What are the things people are always asking your help with?
Your sweet spot (your true calling in life) is where your passion and skill intersect.
To help you discover your true purpose in life, download my FREE “SWEET SPOT” CHEAT SHEET HERE.
You deserve to live an amazing, joyful, purpose-driven life! Keep going and never give up on creating the life of your dreams!
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Nicole Iacovoni is a psychotherapist, writer, wealth coach, and spiritual guide on a mission to teach women how to harness the power of their minds to create wealthy, purpose-driven lives.