“When you find your path, you must ignore fear. You need to have the courage to risk mistakes. But once you are on that road… run, run, run, and don’t stop til you’ve reached its end.” ~ José N. Harris
What should you do with your life? You can pursue an unlimited number of paths. Narrowing down the options and picking one path can be a paralyzing process.
So you put off thinking about your purpose and passion until an undetermined future date. You take the path of least resistance. You stay on the current track.
It’s safe, familiar, and comfortable. It pays the bills. It’s okay.
It’s not thrilling though. It doesn’t captivate your imagination with exciting possibilities.
It’s not what you really want. You want a sense of meaning and purpose. You want to feel like you crafted your dream life instead of an average life.
These five questions will strip away your fears and help you find your path in life:
1. What do you love to do?
The “what are you going to do with your life” question confronts you at different stages in life. It first surfaces in high school. Then, a few years into your career. And then it comes when you least expect it: “Is this all you’re going to do with your life?”
Answering the question feels like a massive life decision. So we try to force and strain our way to the perfect decision. It’s like we’re trying to solve a complex equation with hundreds of variables.
This isn’t an effective approach when there are many right answers. Just ask all the college freshmen who spend weeks flipping through the catalog of majors. Before you start solving advanced equations to help you find your path, look at the answers that are right in front of you.
Ask yourself these questions:
What subjects do I dive into at a deeper level than most people? What do I read and learn about just for my interest and curiosity?
How do I spend a free Sunday afternoon (other than napping and catching up on shows)
As you’re answering these questions, direct your attention to what you love to do. Look towards your hobbies, interests, and passions.
The things you do when you’re not influenced by money or societal pressures are powerful indicators that lead you in the right direction. They leave a trail of clues that help you make decisions based on your unique interests and dreams instead of what other people expect you to do.
2. What would you do if money wasn’t a factor?
We attach complex beliefs and emotions to money. It clouds our decisions. This hazy vision makes it hard to distinguish between what we really want and what we’re chasing just to increase our net worth.
Money is important. It gives us the means to take awesome vacations and buy our dream houses and cars. It also provides validation and boosts our egos. These conflicting motivations tug at us at the subconscious level. We don’t realize how much they affect our decisions.
When you strip away the limiting beliefs and worries you have about money, you free yourself to focus on the things that excite you. You get to the core of what you want. With this clarity, you can align your options with your priorities and values instead of being driven by ego and fear.
You shouldn’t completely dismiss money from your thought process. Quitting your job to pursue your passion sounds like a dream until you’re struggling to pay the bills.
There will be a time to add money back into the equation. For now, direct your attention to the things that fuel and inspire you.
3. What would you do if you had no fear of failure?
Like money, the fear of failure clouds judgment. Achieving anything worthwhile takes commitment and perseverance. There are many valid reasons to not pursue your dreams. What if you invest months or years of your life and still fail?
You can’t mentally overcome every possible setback before you start. Instead of worrying about all the ways that things can go wrong, take small steps towards what you want.
You’ll face many setbacks and failures along the way. They are a major part of all success stories. If you let fear take the driver’s seat, you’ll give up before breaking through.
The first publisher of The Alchemist only printed 900 copies of the book. At that point, Paulo Coelho could have given up on his writing dream. He could have told himself that he gave it a shot but it just didn’t work out.
Instead, he stayed committed to his dream and found another publisher. More than 25 years after its initial publication, it’s one of the bestselling books of all time.
There is a time to be analytical about how much risk you’re willing to take. This isn’t that time. Now is the time to discover the goals that make you want to get started right away.
It’s the time to let your stream of consciousness flow with creative and exciting options. It’s the time to feel an electric sense of potential and possibility.
4. What are your unique skills and talents?
If you only think about the things you love to do, your decision making process will be one dimensional. You’ll pursue your passions without maximizing your chances of success. It’s time to reflect on your unique abilities and skills.
What are you really good at? What do you do better than most people? What comes easy to you?
Some of your answers will be concrete skills like programming or teaching. That’s a good start. Dig deeper into why you were drawn to develop those skills.
Maybe you’re great at connecting with people and building relationships. Maybe you have a world class ability to strategically and analytically find solutions to challenging problems. Maybe you excel at creating processes and systems.
Here’s what my answer looks like: I have a growth mindset. I love the journey of working my way past the early struggles of learning a new skill. I enjoy progressing through the learning curve. Once I decide to pursue a goal, I stick with it regardless of my initial results.
I stay committed because I’m confident I will get better over time. The growth mindset is a driving force behind my biggest personal and professional accomplishments. What are your driving forces?
5. What impact do you want to make in the world?
The first four questions focused on your interests, passions, and talents. If your life purpose only consists of what you want, you’ll feel a void. There will be a lack of meaning to the goals in your life.
It’s time to look outwards. There are an infinite amount of problems, challenges, and struggles in the world. Find the ones that resonate with you.
How do you want to make the world a better place? You don’t have to set out to solve the biggest problems. The magnitude of your impact doesn’t matter. You only have to be focused on helping others with your unique talents and skills. You’ll receive satisfaction and happiness from seeing the positive impact you’ve made on others. You’ll add a sense of mission and purpose to your life by helping others.