In my 20s I had a lot of ideas and spent most of that decade chasing them. I bounced from job to job, payday to payday but had no purpose or direction.
I tried several careers; worked as a nurse, a counsellor at a youth hostel and AIDS hostel, as a writer, a journalist, an editor and advertising account manager… I was a waiter and at one stage a clown at kids’ parties. I studied at uni part-time, managed a couple of bands, published my own youth magazine, did a couple of radio shows, was a photographer… all in that decade!
I was always running on adrenalin. I was chasing something but didn’t know what. I was having fun, going out, spending money but didn’t know what I wanted. I wanted to help people but didn’t know how to help myself.
I had a lot of ideas but no purpose.
It wasn’t until I sat down with a few key people at critical points in my 30s that I made some significant changes.
People backpack through India and travel around Europe looking for their purpose. We have this idea that purpose will turn up in an ashram somewhere in the Himalayas. And look, for some it might. But for me it didn’t. Fortunately, I discovered a shorter path.
I just needed to take stock of where I was at and decide on where I wanted to be in five, 10… even 20 years’ time.
I needed to make some cold hard decisions about my life if I wanted to achieve my dreams. I wanted a future of purpose. It was intangible and seemed impossible to attain but in order to obtain it I needed a process.
One rainy Saturday morning I started to map it out. I dreamed about where I wanted to be in different areas of my life both spiritually, physically and mentally, where I saw myself for work, in relationships, health, finances, interests, etc.
On a practical level, instead of my thoughts swimming around in my head I put pen to paper. I wrote out exactly how I saw my life in 20 years and worked backwards from that point. Then I transferred it all to an excel spreadsheet with a timeline.
I’ll never forget the peace that came with that spreadsheet.
Writing down our purpose has a way of simplifying things. It makes it easier to identify real opportunities when they present themselves.
Knowing our purpose gives energy to our life and motivates us to spring out of bed in the morning.
It helps us set goals and reach them both personally and professionally. There will always be hurdles that knock us off course but if we know where we’re heading and why we want to get there, we’ll find that
getting back on track is the easy part.