How many people you know can actually say they are living a truly fulfilling life? Not many, right?
I know the feeling very well. For more than 15 years I lied to myself, trying to keep up with society’s expectations and just fit in like everyone else. Then, one day I finally woke up and decided to take control of my life, and the good news is—you can do it too!
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
~ Mark Twain
I know what you’re thinking: “Right, easier said than done! ” But maybe, more importantly, you might be thinking, “who am I to tell you these things anyway?”
Fair enough, I wouldn’t just buy crap from someone who decided to write an article on how to live a fulfilling life if the writing wasn’t backed up with some evidence, or at least an inspiring story!
So here’s my story:
I believe in dreams and my motto is better late than never.
I learned English from scratch at age 30 and five years later I quit a good job with a great salary, bought a backpack and a one-way ticket to travel the world. I also launched a website to fulfill my lifetime dream to become a travel blogger.
Everyone thought that I was crazy to leave everything behind to follow a “stupid” dream. They told me that my blog wouldn’t take me anywhere and that I would never reach the same level of fluency as a native English writer.
It’s been a hard and painful path and I had to swallow bitter comments for months but I made the decision to trust my instinct and to believe in myself. Two years later I am earning a full salary from my website, I travel the world and I am a happy person.
I’m not bragging, trust me. I simply want to show you that what I am about to say is not coming from a bored person behind a desk in a cubical, someone who doesn’t know the first thing about what it takes to get out of your comfort zone.
It’s certainly hard but it’s more than possible.
I’m here to tell you that you can do it too, because a few years ago I was exactly like you: confused and unsatisfied about my life—the worst thing was I didn’t have a clue about where to start.
One of the main reasons why many people are not living a satisfying life is because they don’t know what their “calling” is, they think it’s too late for them to change or they simply think it’s not the right moment. This is completely normal so don’t panic, your life probably doesn’t suck as much as you might think.
It’s rare to find someone who was born knowing exactly what they wanted to do in life and took all the right steps at exactly the right time.
Find what’s wrong with your life.
The first step to change your life is to find out what is “wrong” with it.
This exercise might be an unpleasant one (I know it was for me) but it’s the key to turn your life upside down, in a good way.
Society might be pushing you in the wrong direction: perhaps you’re a woman in your mid 30s and you still don’t want kids? What’s wrong with you girl? The clock is ticking! Well, let me tell you something: let them judge you. When you know what you want, you are too busy enjoying your life to care about what people say!
You are pursuing a career that is not truly yours: are you in your current role because it’s safe or cool or some other lifeless reason? You probably don’t even see the pattern until one day you find yourself wondering, “What the hell am I doing here?” which means it’s definitely time for a change.
When I was working for Burberry everyone congratulated me for my success. I had a steady job in a well-respected company and a good salary. From the outside, I had everything a girl could dream of.
But a little voice inside me whispered in my ear: “This is not who you really are.”
Meaning: My life sucked. Even if from the outside no one could see it.
So, what if you still don’t know what your calling is? What can you do to figure it out?
Five things to help you find your true calling.
1. It is not rational.
Don’t think about it too much. The more you think, the more you will fall into the trap of what is considered right for you (which is not what you are looking for).
Your dream doesn’t have to be something that society approves of. Often the real dreams are the ones considered “crazy, impossible ideas.” Impossible until you prove them wrong. That’s the fun part. Show people what you’re capable of!
But first things first: you have to believe in your dream with everything you have. No matter how crazy it might seem, just believe in it. Scientific studies have demonstrated that our brain is highly influenced by our attitude and positive thinking. Athletes, businessmen and successful people in general, use these techniques to “trick” their minds into success.
Believe that you will succeed and you’re half way there. I still remember when I started believing that I could really quit my job and travel the world—a fire started burning inside me and no one could stop me.
Imagine the same happening to you because anything is possible! Unless you’re a 100-year-old man and you want to become an astronaut, then (maybe) Houston, we have a problem! Otherwise, dare to dream big.
2. Discover your passions.
Everyone has passions and I bet you are no exception. It could be anything, from sports to video games, traveling to amazing destinations or even petting cats all day. The list goes on and on.
Passions are crucial factors to finding out your true calling. You might have many passions but there will always be one or two that win over the others.
All you have to do is to keep pursuing your passions.
The keyword here is fun. Don’t push yourself, take your time and the answers will come, often when they’re least expected.
3. The “no comparison” rule.
If there is only one piece of advice I could give, this is it.
Do not compare, under any circumstances, your life to other people’s lives. When you still don’t know what your path is, you might be tempted to copy whoever is (in your eyes) successful.
You are unique, with your emotions, struggles and everything that comes along with them. Comparing yourself to other people can lead you to think that you are not good enough. When you find out what you are really good at, none of this matters anymore.
I felt like a failure while I was working in the fashion industry, because it simply wasn’t something that I was passionate about. If you feel like I did, there is probably nothing wrong with you because you can’t be good at everything.
Find your strengths and forget about what other people are doing. You are good enough, you just need to find what makes you special, gives a new purpose to your life and never give up.
Einstein was considered mentally retarded by his teachers during his early years at school. Steve Jobs was fired from the company he had created and J.K. Rowling’s first book was rejected 30 times before she got a chance to publish it. What would have happened if they had given up, thinking that they were not good enough?
They are no different from us, they simply found their own path, stood up after each failure and tried again.
4. Find your own voice.
Don’t do something just because a friend suggested it: find your voice.
While others might seem to have their lives under control, don’t be fooled even if you feel like you are left “behind” because you still have to figure out what you want. You don’t know what they are experiencing. You are not them.
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” ~ Oscar Wilde
5. When you know, you know.
Finding your calling is similar to falling in love. When it happens, everything brightens up.
You will feel more alive than ever and you will start thinking about a plan to bring your dream into reality. Suddenly, the idea that looked crazy for years now looks very achievable. You will start to think in very creative ways and you’ll be as excited as a kid in a toy store before Christmas.
You’ll find solutions that you never thought were possible.
There is only one way to prove to yourself that you’ve found your real dream: When you don’t give a damn about people’s approval, that’s it. Smile and carry on, as your life is going to change for good my friend!
What if you still think you don’t have a choice? Is that the truth or it’s just the fear of failure talking on your behalf?
We choose everything that happens in our lives, every day. Maybe we choose to not disappoint those around us, but sometimes we end up disappointing the most important person: ourself.
Your life and your time are the most valuable assets you’ll ever have. No matter what your age is, it’s never too late to choose a path that has a meaningful purpose. Remember, if your dreams don’t scare you, it means that they are not big enough!
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Author: Clelia Mattana
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
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