As I’m writing this much of the United States and the world is under stay-at-home orders to help manage the COVID-19 crisis. It’s a very surreal, scary, and uncertain time for everyone as we try to stay safe and healthy.

And while it’s a difficult time, it’s also a time where many people are experiencing more time. More time to do things they’ve always wanted to do, more time to pursue things that weren’t a priority in our fast-paced world, more time to reflect and ponder what could be.

Faced with these thoughts, many are realizing that there’s more to life than what they’ve been experiencing. They’re coming to the conclusion that they’ve been burned out and unfulfilled and they’re now looking for ways to find more purpose and meaning in their lives. They’re looking for ways to create a life aligned to their passion where they can contribute while living on their own terms.

Now is a perfect time to do this!

Taking this opportunity, consider these five steps to find or create a career aligned with your purpose.

Step 1. Discover what you love to do. Not really knowing what you love to do is a problem many people face, especially if they’re people pleasers. They’ve usually been what they thought others wanted them to be so they’re really not sure who they are or what they enjoy.

There are several ways to figure out what you love:

  • Review your previous work experience by creating a chart with your current and then previous roles down the vertical axis. Across the top write Love, Like, Put Up With, and Hate. For each role go through and write each of these things down. Ask yourself why you called out those things for each role.
  • Think about the top three jobs or roles you’ve had. What did each of these roles have in common? What themes can you pick out?
  • Consider what you wanted to do or be when you were young, before you started to be shaped by society. Why did you want that? What about it appealed to you? Dig into this, it may not be what’s on the surface but a deeper desire.

Step 2. Identify what your natural gifts are. This can also be a difficult exercise especially if you’re modest or have been taught to play down your gifts and instead focus on your opportunities.

A few ways you can identify your natural gifts are:

  • Reach out to family, friends, and trusted colleagues to ask them what your gifts are. Sometimes we’re too close to what we do that we don’t see our gifts.
  • Evaluate and critically look at what you do well that perhaps you take for granted. What do others always come to you for help with? What tasks or activities come easy for you? 

Step 3. Brainstorm how you create value in the world by combining what you love with your natural gifts. There are so many ways people do this.

Say you’re great at accounting and you love animals. A natural option might be to handle the accounting for a conservation organization. Or create a consulting and contracting company that specializes in the pet care industry. 

Maybe your passion is creating several mediums of art but you’re also great at hospitality. An option might be to run a bed-and-breakfast where you’re art is displayed throughout the property and you lead art tours around your city. 

Step 4. Create a vision and a plan. A personal vision is a future-looking statement, narrative, story, or view of what you want your life to be. There’s no one right medium for it, it can be anything from a hand-written version to a Pinterest board of images that invoke your vision, it’s whatever resonates for you.

Creating a personal vision can help you in a number of ways:

  • It helps you get clear on what you want for your future.
  • It aids in decision making. Without a clear vision, it can be tempting to chase the latest and greatest shiny object that comes at you and say yes to everything. Referring back to your vision when you’re at decision points can help to guide you towards the future you’re trying to build.
  • It’s inspirational! Having a vision of what you want your future to look like can help you get through those tough times when it feels like nothing is going right and you’re making no progress. Regularly revisiting your vision can provide the motivation to push through and can show you how far you’ve come on your journey.

Use this vision to create a plan for how you’ll get closer to living your ideal life. Reverse engineer and work backwards from where you want to be. Break down these larger actions into smaller achievable goals. For example, does your vision include living in a country where the language is different than your native language? How would you go about learning the language? Or maybe you’d like to explore certain careers or roles, reach out to people in those roles that you admire or follow and interview them (this may sound awkward but people often love to talk about their experiences and help others).

Step 5. Take action! Dreaming and planning are great but if you truly want to change your life and live more aligned to your purpose you need to take action. While initially, it may seem overwhelming and you might think you’re unable to take action right now given that we’re ordered or encouraged to stay-at-home or distance ourselves from others, this is a great time to take action.

Look at all the online courses being offered, oftentimes for free or at a reduced price. Find people online who are in the area you’re interested in and reach out to them. Do small things to get you closer and closer to your vision and ideal life. Each action will build upon itself and give you fuel to keep moving forward.

Take advantage of this new time in our lives to evaluate where you’re at, how you want to contribute to this world, and create your ideal life aligned to your purpose.

Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels