Discovering Your Life’s Purpose

I wish I had all the answers. I don’t have many at all. But I have some tips, and I can share my story.

Discovering your life’s purpose is stupidly hard.

Okay, back in high school I attended this nerd school where almost all the students graduate with their Associate’s degree. At one point as a student I remember thinking how stupid it was that I was doing that.

Everyone thought it was so great that I was going for it. They thought I was so smart.

I thought it would have been smarter to go to a normal school and not get any college credits.

I don’t regret what I’ve done. I never have. Although, I mostly only went because I knew either me or my parents would have to pay for my Associate’s and it would be a lot cheaper that way. Plus I was a nerd.

But here’s the thing: public schools don’t give any priority to teaching kids how to figure out what to do with their lives.

Oh, they teach you what you could do with your life, and what you ‘should’ do with your life. They may even give you personality assessments and tell you what you’re best suited for. But when it comes down to it? None of that is liable to help you discover your calling in life.

I thought it was stupid for me to get my Associate’s two years early because that meant I was missing out on two years of self-discovery. Two years of figuring out what the heck I wanted to go to college for. And if I rushed it and picked a degree anyway, I might end up wasting years of my life and tens of thousands of dollars.

Let me take a break for a minute to tell you what actually happened to me:

I was cripplingly depressed after high school graduation. That fall I took one class online while living in Idaho. That spring my parents moved me back in with them because I was suicidal. I worked at a bakery for several months and met my husband. I almost got promoted to bakery manager. I quit my job. I got another job and lost it. I took another job and quit after a week with no pay because I was too ill to be on my feet. I got married. I was so morbidly depressed for about three years that I did little other than sit on the couch watching Netflix and making sure my one and then two kids were physically taken care of, intellectually stimulated, and as emotionally engaged as I could handle. Somewhere in there I worked at JoAnn’s for a week and quit that one too because I was too depressed, then I tried working at TransAmerica but was too depressed for that.

And eventually, I published my first book. And then three more.

Being an author was a calling I already knew. I’ve known that for as long as I can remember. Yeah, I’m one of those jerks who’s always known what I’m supposed to do. But here’s something cool: most of us who figure out our life callings? We get more than one. That means I, too, know the struggle of figuring out what the heck to do with my life and can share advice on what I learned.

I’ve known for I don’t even know how long that there was something more. Maybe I’ve always known it, and I just didn’t recognize what that feeling was.

Let’s take a look back at high-school-age-and-younger-Mariah again. Specifically, what I was good at that made me happy, and things that in general brought me joy.

  • writing
  • line editing
  • content editing/beta reading
  • working alone
  • being around people/having people depend on me
  • helping people; improving their lives
  • doing something that made a difference
  • starting my own businesses
  • art/pretending I know how to do graphic design
  • learning new things
  • copywriting
  • advocating for mental health in my own way
  • being an ‘influencer’ on social media

Now let’s look at the life purpose that I just discovered on Sunday. I realized that I want to be the managing editor at my own publishing company where I only publish books with strong themes of mental illness and hope. What does that involve?

  • writing/copywriting
  • line editing
  • content editing
  • working alone
  • being around people/having people depend on me
  • helping people; improving their lives
  • doing something that makes a difference
  • starting my own business (and actually running it longterm!)
  • art/pretending I know how to do graphic design
  • learning new things
  • advocating for mental health in my own way
  • being a social media influencer

This is not to say that I should have been able to take stock of what I was good at then and come up with being a managing editor/book publisher. Not at all. I didn’t even know what managing editors were back then. I didn’t have names for half that stuff, or I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing, or I didn’t even realize I liked it. I gravitated towards the things I liked, though, so looking back it’s clear to see that things were always lined up to come to this.

That might not sound helpful to you right now, so I’ll share a tip I learned today in my Intro to Entrepreneur class.

Keep a journal

Don’t just ‘keep a journal’, either. Keep a journal with purpose. The example I heard was to write down every day what you did that brought you joy, that sparked your creativity. Eventually you will be able to look back at all your entries, see what they have in common, and figure out the exact career that you can go into that utilizes those things.

I’ve kept a journal my entire life. That’s helped me in a lot of ways, and though I don’t know if I can say it played a part in this way, it probably did help.

If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of it, whatever the case, please don’t compare yourself. The happy and probably rich dude who used that example took two years to put two and two together to find his calling.

Another thing to keep in mind is that God is on your side. If you can rely on Him, He will help you. You may still struggle to find your life’s calling, but he’ll push you to and fro along your path to make sure you get all the experience you need to later excel at life–if that is what you desire.

I wish I had more to share right now. I thought I did, but I’ve forgotten. In the meantime, I plan to run a free online course on this once I have more answers. I’ll be writing them down in the meantime so that I can come back with enough information to help anyone unlock their dreams. That’s something I wanted to do in high school, too. I just didn’t think of it in terms of ‘this is something I could do.’

One more thing: self-awareness is always key. Learn to be aware of what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling. If you can learn to act on the subtle thoughts you have, you’ll be at least one step closer to getting to where you want to be.

For now, I hope you know you are loved and you matter. I hope my words have some kind of impact on you today.

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