The Millennial’s Guide to Finding ‘Your Purpose’
This is not your parents’ generation. We’re different, and we get a bad rap for it. (In case you missed it somehow, just go Google articles or blog posts about ‘millennials’.)
There is a lot of depth that characterizes our generation. No, we’re not perfect, but neither are the generations before us.
We have eclectic tastes in music, an obsession with selfies + social media, we wait a lot longer to get married + start ‘settling down’. Our phones are a fifth limb, we’re much more conscious of the world outside of ourselves + are globally aware, open-minded + progressive
We were raised to pursue our passions, to spend our time and money doing what we love, and to make an impact in the world. We were raised to love ourselves and pursue our dreams, to be creative and innovative, and to value experiences over material goods + owning a big home.
Yet we are being asked (and expected) to settle for lifestyles, relationships, jobs, and companies that don’t align with so much of that. If we desire anything more than what our parents had or did, we are labeled as lazy or entitled. It feels impossible to win sometimes.
We’re in an exciting — yet uncomfortable, confusing, and even at times downright strange — transition period. One where the paradigm is shifting from simply living a life where we choose from a menu of options (and pick the one that stinks the least) to a life where we are able to innovate and create options for ourselves in all areas in our lives.
While our options now are more expansive than they’ve ever been, it has also added additional pressure to younger adults to find their ‘passion’.
In the past, people often had jobs for the ‘great benefits’ they provided and to have ‘stability’ at a ‘reputable’ company, one where they often stayed for life, working their way up the ladder.
People viewed marriage as a much more pragmatic, utilitarian decision. People didn’t branch outside of their small bubbles as often. Women were not nearly as powerful or respected.
Yes, these are sweeping generalizations, and I understand that not everyone in the past lived or thought this way, and I know some people continue to live this way, but I’m referring to general cultural trends.
Our generation is being called as a generation to actually seek, discover, and/or create what it is that we truly want and what we are truly meant to do.
However, we don’t have nearly as many examples in generations before us, so we are setting the bar for one another. This can sometimes lead to feelings of envy, jealousy, hopelessness, etc. because rather than seeing someone as a ‘wise elder’ type bestowing their wisdom upon us, they are a peer aka competition aka I should be there, too, so why can’t I get my shit together?
This leads to a great deal of panic, existential crises, and shame. We feel like we need to be keeping up with those people our age who are pursuing their passions.
Yet many of us tend to forget or not realize that finding your passion is not a panacea that makes you immune to any and all pain and challenge and sorrow.
On the flip side, some of us give up and believe that we should simply ‘settle’. (To be clear, there is no one particular choice or path I would consider ‘settling’, as I believe what is ‘settling’ is different for each person.) And this isn’t much better. We might be able to ‘push through’ for a certain amount of time, but eventually we reach our breaking point.
We cycle in between this ‘I need to find my passion + joy in life’ crisis, and the ‘I’m not special enough for that, I’ll just stay in / take this normal-ish job that pays the bills, in my apartment that I don’t love but that I’m getting a great deal on the rent (I think?!), in the city that I don’t truly enjoy being in but I have a few friends here, with the partner who I’ve basically fallen out of love with but who keeps me company’ crisis…
…then we shift back into the ‘I’m actually pretty miserable at this bill-paying job, terrible roommate situation in an overpriced apartment, paying way too much to live in a city I don’t love, and with my partner who treats me like crap, and I need to find my passion + joy in life. Stat.’
Sound familiar? If so, you’re probably wondering what you should do (or if this article is just me bitching and isn’t helpful whatsoever. Hang in there.)
The truth is that we have it all backwards. We’re all looking for ‘that job’. That person. That apartment. That city. That thing that’s going to magically fix it all and set your life on a path of eternal, pain-free success + happiness.
The truth is — hold your gagging and eye rolls till the end, please — that the answer is already inside of you + that finding and pursuing your passion is a journey because it is not a one-dimensional, single-word kind of answer; it’s the bigger picture of who you are as a person.
We spend so much time and effort dreaming and plotting and envisioning and scheming, which is great + fun, but there is an upper limit to how much this shifts our lives. At some point, we must begin to actively shift our lives closer to the direction of our dreams.
This doesn’t mean you need to overhaul all areas of your life at once (though it certainly could). It means if you know that the way your life is, right here, right now, is not what you want in the long-term, get clear on what it is you do want.
It doesn’t have to be a one word answer to solve everything in every area of your life. It can simply start with that you want more ‘love’ in your life. Great. You’ve gotten clearer on what you want.
Now start looking at each moment, each decision, each interaction + experience in your life and ask yourself if you felt love, and if not, how can you create / introduce more ease into that, or if perhaps abandoning said ‘thing’ would bring you more ‘love’ altogether.
The point of this is that you shouldn’t wait around, sitting in a panic to find your calling.
For most of us, there isn’t this ‘come to Jesus’ moment where it is all revealed to us. It is usually revealed to us over a series of occurrences, a lifetime you could call it ;). And the best way to find it is to ask yourself, by accessing your intuition / spirit, getting clear what it wants, and following those wishes down the winding path of life.
The key is to never give yourself away simply to appease others. Follow a path that allows you to love the life you want right now; the rest will reveal itself. You can’t see 10, 20, 30 years into your career future, no matter what path you’re on, so follow what feels most right and true for you NOW.
We’re all in a rush to find our calling or purpose, like it’s a race against father time. But in my personal experience, mine was revealed to me; I didn’t go looking for it specifically.
It was revealed when I finally listened to the yearning for help inside to reach out for help + support through working with a coach.
It was revealed when I finally accessed some of my deepest pain + fears, gave them a voice, nurtured + grieved + processed.
It was revealed when I finally began to allow myself to forgive + be forgiven.
It was revealed when I began to shed, layer by layer, all that was not me, all the baggage that was not and is not mine to carry any longer.
It was revealed when I finally started to dismantle the concept of who I believed I needed to be in order to fully understand and then step into who I truly am.
It was revealed as I built up the courage to take, at first, baby steps toward my goal, and then a giant leap, allowing faith to take the steering wheel from fear.
There is no right way to have a calling. I repeat. ‘Passions’ and ‘callings’ aren’t linear, easy-to-label, flat things. A calling, in its essence, is about growing your soul + spirit as well as supporting, in some way/shape/form, the same for others.
It doesn’t have to be so clearly non-profit or Peace Corps work. It can be anything that helps you deepen your connection to and love for yourself, the world, and the Divine. Your calling is the act of being the person you were meant to be. Seriously. It’s not as mysterious as we make it out to be.
That’s it. That’s the secret. I could make up a fancy 10-step strategy for you, but the truth is that it’s not about a specific methodology. Rather, it is the act of addressing + healing the things that are holding you back from your fullest expression of yourself.
It’s trusting that the more you know who you are and actually live your life in that way, the more clearly your understanding of your ‘purpose’ becomes and the more opportunities align in you favor to make that happen.
The truth is also that most of us know what we want, but we’re too afraid to access that knowledge because once we do, we know that we will be asked to do something about it… which takes courage, willingly placing ourselves straight into the thick of discomfort, and giving up the illusion of security.
And it’s really not about the ‘what’ you do so much as it’s about the intention behind it, your why.
By that, I mean that when we get real with ourselves and ask why we are doing what we are doing, we can decide if we want that to be our why. And if not, what do we want to be our why, and starting to practice using that to help guide our decisions.
For example, if your why is to see the world + experience all its beauty, I would begin to think about the long-term viability of a job that only gives you 1 week of vacation a year.
Stop blaming it on the job, and start taking charge of your life. Maybe that looks like negotiating for more vacation days with your manager, working remotely, or finding a new job entirely. Once again, not the what, it’s the why.
That being said, we must also be careful to not seek complete and total fulfillment through our careers, no matter how much we do or don’t like them.
We don’t have just one single purpose here but many in many different areas of our lives — career being a part of all of that. What we do outside of our careers and how we spend our time matters and is equally important to creating a richer life for ourselves.
Perhaps for you, it isn’t about finding a job that knocks your socks off but rather one that’s good, filled with mostly kind-hearted good people, stable + low # of hours, low-stress, etc. and that gives you the freedom, money, and time to live the life that you want outside of work, rather than needing to spend your time outside of work decompressing, numbing, etc.
We all have an inner compass within us, it’s just a matter of us getting familiar with how it speaks to us and beginning to listen to it + connect with it on a regular basis. As we continue to live in a period of innovation, intuition is incredibly important in guiding us to create from love + truth.
I put together 10 tips that might be helpful to you in your own journey:
- Practice trusting yourself more: If this feels scary, start with the little things, like what to eat or where or do after work. As you begin to use your inner compass (aka intuition) to guide you through life + feel confident in it, you can begin to use it to make bigger + bigger decisions.
- Use your mind AND your body: Begin to research + implement just one mind-body technique, something that will connect you to your body and its immense wisdom (Hint: that’s where your inner compass is located!)
- Ask yourself: What do I really want? What has brought me those feelings in the past? How can I generate those feelings for myself NOW?
- Pay attention to ‘coincidences’: In my view, they probably aren’t coincidences, rather they are clues guiding you along your path, ones that have been there all along but that you are now noticing / paying attention to because of your clearer intentions
- Remember: What did you want to be as a kid growing up? What are some qualities of those professions? They likely reflect a lot about who you are as a person, no matter how deep-down, and are probably still relevant to the kind of life you want to live
- Forgive others + yourself: The power of forgiveness is huge in allowing yourself to move forward without the baggage of the past. Humble yourself + try it.
- Learn from others: Both those people who annoy the heck out of you as well as those you could spend endless amounts of time with. When there is a strong connection either way, there is something to be learned, nurtured, developed, supported, etc.
- Reflect on life experiences + lessons: Reflect on different times in your life, including what you struggled with, what you did well, what hardships you encountered, what changed in your life, and ask yourself what is to be learned. What would you say now to the ‘younger you’ during those times. These are gems.
- Approach with curiosity rather than judgment: Throughout all of this, don’t be hard on yourself. Allow the wisdom + insights to flow through without judgment. ‘Mess up’ and ‘make mistakes’ and ‘fail’ with curiosity; it’s all just information to help you learn.
- Patience: When your time has come to board the train to the next stop, it will come.
And remember: Our generation is the first who is being asked to embody the ideals of purpose and passion in a more widespread manner, yet we are also tasked with figuring out how to live in this way and make it work for us. There is no need to be hard on ourselves for not being able to figure this out and/or not knowing how to do it *right* from the get-go.
If I can help you at all along your journey, leave a comment or feel free to contact me at www.ryannpitcavage.com. I’d be happy to set up time for us to talk about your unique situation!
You’ve got this ❤