As millennials, we aren’t working just to get by or to simply take home a paycheck. We want our careers to have meaning and be full of purpose. But how do we find this?

I spent years relentlessly pursuing a path in foreign diplomacy, obtaining two Masters degrees and putting in the time, before I found my calling as a career coach. At the onset, I had no idea I would end up here. But since I’ve arrived, I’ve never been more fulfilled. Many of my clients have had similar experiences. They start off headed in one direction, completely immersed in the journey, and then they find something else that speaks to them. Sometimes true passion strikes when you least expect it.

By the time clients seek my assistance, they’re feeling weary and uncertain about their new direction. Is it safe to make a move? Is this what I really should be doing? What if it’s a “mistake”?

To help my clients find their calling, I ask them some of the questions I asked myself when I realized I was moving down a path that didn’t serve me. While it can feel uncomfortable, it’s important to stop and reflect on what you truly want before making a big career move.

Are You Happy?

Assess how your career really, truly makes you feel. All of us have had rough days, weeks, even months in the office. Are you struggling with burnout, or have you completely lost the will to pursue your chosen career path? In my case, I was drained of the passion to actually pursue a career as a diplomat, but I kept chalking it up to exhaustion in order to avoid facing the deeper reality that it was time for a change. If your goals no longer excite you, it’s time to start asking yourself if this is truly what you want.

Who Are You Proving Yourself To?

Just because your favorite professor told you that you’d be a great lawyer, or your parents had dreams of you being in politics, doesn’t mean you should listen. It’s critical that you put your own dreams first. What everyone else wants for you is not important. You will never find real satisfaction if proving yourself to others is the biggest motivator in your career. Take a moment and be sure your actions are motivated by the right reasons.

Is There Another Way?

For the longest time, my success in business and career came from the hustle. I’d push, and push and push myself…and great things would happen. I was entirely consumed by the steps I needed to take to achieve whatever milestone or checklist item was going to get me closer to my goal. That overriding need for control stifled my ability to be creative and open to new possibilities. Once I realized how much I was limiting myself, I started focusing on the bigger picture: what did I really want? In my case, I knew I wanted to make a difference on a large scale, earn a steady income that would enable me to live a comfortable lifestyle, and live in different parts of the world.

After I’d dug through my goals and assessed what parts of it were really important to me, I was able to see beyond my rigid foreign policy plan and realize there were other ways to live the life I’d dreamed of. Sometimes we can reach our goals in ways we least expect.

What Wants To Happen?

I couldn’t answer this question for myself until I understood what was truly important to me. This is a question of being in the flow—and it’s the question that unlocked the door for me to find a new career path. Easing up on the gas pedal allowed me to get some perspective, and as I began to really let myself live in the world around me—instead of constantly running through it full throttle—I become more centered and focused on ideas that pulled me in and captivated me.

This question intimidates some of my private coaching clients because they think I’m telling them to go from 60 miles per hour to zero —  an especially nerve-wracking thought for the type A personalities out there. What I’m really telling them is not to slow down but to “go with the flow” instead of pushing and trying to make things happen all the time.

Taking my clients through this process to find their purpose is incredibly rewarding. I’ve seen big moves made, and along with those changes came total peace and alignment.

If you’re ready to follow your passion, remember to slow down and reflect on what is truly important to you. As nerve wracking as it might seem to make a big career move, I promise it will be worth it in the end. Just remember to stay true to yourself.

By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.