Forget Finding Your #1 Thing, The #1 Thing You Need to Find is Yourself

“Confusion always leads to clarity, and from there, you make your art in the world.” –Danielle LaPorte

There are a lot of passion-seekers out there. I’m one of them. A lot of the almost-thirty year olds I know are too.

We live in the digital age, and it’s been a wrecking ball to the status quo.

Gone are the days of having one or two jobs over the course of our lives, like 40% of our baby-boomer parents did.

Enter the realm of job-hopping millennial, which will only stay at their jobs for about 4 years, and work a myriad of different positions. “Career planning” being the ultimate oxymoron.

That sounds pretty familiar, seeing as how I just quit my 3-year stint as a content coordinator at the beginning of October 2017 and am writing this article from a deck perched in the Costa Rican jungle.

So what gives?

Millennial’s grew up in uneasy times:

  • We watched our parents get laid off from their “steady, safe jobs” in 2009, when the unemployment rate hit a record high in the last 30 years at 10%.
  • We watched families lose everything when the real estate bubble burst in 2008

Without knowing it, these events have caused us to feel just a smidge uneasy about traditional 9–5 jobs and staying at them for very long:

  • There’s no guarantee that we won’t be laid off in the future and
  • It’s risky putting all your eggs into one skill set, given the rate of jobs being automated and shipped off to cheaper work forces.

Not to mention that it doesn’t seem logical to stick to jobs we’re not passionate about. You can’t tempt employees with two weeks paid vacation per year when every day at their job feels like loathing. What’s the point?

Which is why you hear so many twenty-somethings swirling their almond milk lattes and uttering the words “I don’t know, I just want to find something I’m PASSIONATE about, you know? Something that speaks to me on higher level than just working for a paycheck”

But Trying to Find Your “Passion” is as Effective as Searching for a Bobby-Pin in the Black Hole of Your Purse

“In whatever you do, you’re not going to stand out unless you think big and have ideas that are truly original. That comes from tapping into your own creativity, not obsessing over what everyone else is doing.” — Sophia Amoruso

Raise your hand if:

  • You always have different business/blog/project ideas, which you start to draft out and then abandon altogether
  • If you are always calling that one friend or relative to talk about new business ideas, or career moves
  • If, in your quest to find your passion, you’ve jumped all over the career board, from wanting to start a craft bitters company, being a social media manager, a photographer, or how about a wood worker?

Let me tell you, it takes one to know one.

I spent years like this, frustrating my husband because why couldn’t I just stick to ONE thing, annoying friends and family with my ‘new business ideas’ to the point they started screening my calls. I had a lot of shame because I wasn’t measuring up to the “hustle” mentality that’s so pervasive right now.

I distinctly remember thinking, “will I ever be happy? Am I just one of those people that will never be satisfied with what they’ve got?” as I realized once again, I hated the job I had worked really hard to get.

Things just weren’t working. No business I wanted to start got past the planning phase, regardless of how many entrepreneurial courses I took. I couldn’t find a job that I could imagine working at for the rest of my life.

My life started to feel pretty undone and hopeless.

(Cue the super inspiring music)

That was, until I decided to stop listening to outside influence, and relearned how to listen to my intuition instead.

Heart + Intuition = Your Passion

“Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” — Steve Jobs

I’m not sure when we stopped trusting ourselves as a society. But I know when it happened to me personally.

It happened somewhere in my youth, when little-Goth-Cayla decided that being herself was ultra uncool and she needed to change to fit into other peoples standards.

I went against the things I loved, and the friends I had by sterilizing my personality. I stopped reading books about herbalism, I begged my mom to buy me things from Pac Sun.

I just wanted all the kids to forget I used to wear black lipstick to the mall.

I decided at a very young age that other people’s thoughts and opinions meant more to me than my own. My intuition was shushed and replaced by the guidance and influence of the outside world.

I think a lot of us are stuck in this place.

It’s why blogs and apps like Instagram do so well, because we desperately want to know what other people are doing so it can inform our decisions.

It’s why so many of us consume huge amounts of information — on how to lose weight, how to start a business or find your passion — and then never do anything with it.

It’s a rat wheel of information seeking, but the point isn’t to stay on the wheel, the point is to get off and do something with it.

What separates the people that are crushing it in fields they’re passionate about and the ones who can’t seem to figure it out, is they know who they are, and they follow their gut rather than listening to outside influence.

Get to Know Yourself (or, The Surest Way to Needing a Therapist)*

“I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” –Tim Ferris

We have a hard time plugging back into ourselves. Some of us get the cold sweats just reading the words “get to know yourself”.

The idea of figuring yourself out can bring up a lot of negative feelings and memories.

We get flack all our lives for being the people we are. It doesn’t stop in grade school.

  • Someone breaks up with us, and even though they say it’s them, we definitely know its us.
  • Our parents unknowingly convince us we shouldn’t pursue our actual dreams, but should instead pursue a real career, like being a doctor.
  • We’re told by the media and brands all the time that our bodies are gross and need to be changed in order to fit in.

I get it. We’re fed up losing and having our spirits broken just because we want to be who we are, so we stop listening to our intuition and start listening to other people instead.

But the true leaders, the ones that are kicking ass, are the ones who aren’t listening to what anyone else says.

The real winners are the unpopular kids who survived the treachery of being uncool and remained true to themselves until it paid off.

Now they’re loving their great lives being all in touch with themselves and getting to do their passions every day.

You think Bill Gates was popular in school?

Sophia Amoruso, the founder of the Nasty Gal dynasty, is the poster child for making it by sticking to authenticity rather than fitting in. She was an angry, dumpster diving teen that loved vintage and now she’s worth $280 million according to Forbes (that’s more than Beyoncé).

Realigning with yourself, and figuring out how to listen to your intuition is the surest way to finding your passion and march into the arms of success (whatever success means to you).

*I’m serious about the therapist thing, everyone should have one.

OK, So How?

“If everyone likes you, you’re doing it wrong” –Bette Davis

The first step to finding yourself is by tuning into yourself. Which, of course, means turning down the volume on everyone else. Even your parents, your professors and especially anyone you don’t respect.

It’s a lonely road, finding yourself, but in the end you’re the only one who will be there your whole life so you might as well get cozy.

Now don’t get me wrong, you should definitely be listening to the people whom you have a lot of respect for. Unfortunately, most people (even our parents, spouses, and family) are living from a place of fear. So when they see you doing something that goes against their safe-standards, they’re going to throw their fear all over you.

This is what you want to tune out.

Brene Brown suggests writing down a couple of names of the people who you trust above all others, (the guiding lights in your life), and if you need a second opinion, those are the only people whose advice you’ll hear out.

Everyone else gets the mute button.

Then. . .

1. Stay the Hell off Social Media

My husband and I took a fantastic two-week honeymoon to an off-the-beaten-path beach town. There was only WiFi at one restaurant, so I wasn’t able to be on social media except for a quick moment in the mornings.

Our honeymoon came after my failed attempt at starting a “cocktail cabin” business, in which my husband and father built me a tiny cabin on wheels with the intention of taking it to weddings and events and using it as a bar. It was super cool.

But I failed at it. Those two slaved away (with me helping where I could) building this beautiful little cabin and I never saw it through. (Insert shame spiral here).

So I was feeling like a complete failure, like a bad wife and daughter, and was trying desperately to figure out something else I could do. I was secretly hoping I could make it up to them by finally finishing and succeeding at something.

I spent all my spare time watching people on Instagram, listening to podcasts, reading articles, and consuming as much inspiration and information as my willing mind could handle.

I was thrown in hundreds of different directions consuming these stories of people who had started thriving businesses and I swung from one thing to the next — hey I love cupcakes, I should probably start a bakery, and cocktail bitters are really neat, what if I made those?

I was a ball of stress and anxiety and I had no fewer than 3 new business ideas every week. My husband’s patience was thin.

Then we went on this trip and I was so relaxed and stress free, it was incredible. I started thinking clearly, and realized that all this outside input from social media was making my head spin and thus was a guarantee that I would never see anything through.

So when I got home, I vowed to:

  • Stay off all social media, except for once in the morning and once at night and only for 5 minutes
  • Stop listening to any podcasts related to business, or ideas, or success, and
  • Stop reading blogs about it too.

I don’t think it’s any surprise that now, only 7 months after our honeymoon, I’ve left my job and fully committed to a writing career. Without all that unnecessary distraction I was able to focus on what I really wanted and leave the rest behind.

Social media, blogs and podcasts can serve as a great source of inspiration and creativity, but only if you know what you want to do with yourself.

2. Do the Hard Work of Listening to Your Gut

You can’t just one day wake up and be like “ok, I’m listening to my intuition again, watch me go!” If you’re really out of touch with who you are, or what you want for your life, it’s incredibly hard to just decide to tune everyone out, as was my case.

So the work on realigning with yourself starts by, yes, listening to the pros (I know I said not to listen to anyone, but this is different).

  • Get yourself an arsenal of self-help books and start doing the work: unpack your shame, unblock your emotional issues, start loving yourself again.
  • Do anything — any hobby, any class, any project, any sport — that lights you up with excitement even a little. Especially do it if it was something you used to love.
  • Get real quiet and sit with yourself for 10 minutes every day. I like to sit and meditate, but have my journal nearby for any insights that might surface.
  • Then, start to get familiar and listen to your gut reactions to things. The point here is to start making decisions based on what your body and intuition are telling you, not what you think the outside world will like, or tells you to do. Your body has all the knowledge it needs, they are incredible at making the best decisions for us, when we’re tuned into them.

These things work if you give it time, patience and trust. It’s really hard to start listening to your gut again when you’ve spent your entire life tuning it out for the sake of fitting in.

Conclusion

Whatever passion or calling comes to the surface, let it, even if it’s out of date, far-fetched or wild. We’re in a brave new world right now with this thing called the Internet, and billions of people out there that get you.

You just have to GET YOU first, and the rest will follow.

Take Action!

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