There are a lot of things in life that you want, might, can, or should do. But none of them are incredibly important when compared to what you must do.
And it’s fucking terrifying scary. I’m not sure there is anything more scary than deliberately choosing a purpose for your life. (Except for maybe having children. That’s hard to top.)
So, what is this must?
It’s about how your deep passion intersects with the value you can most provide the world. It’s a mix between your unique strengths, innate passion, and the difference you can make. Unfortunately, it’s something many people never figure out.
And there are a whole host of reasons why:
- It’s too scary
- It’s too epic
- It’s not practical
- It’s hard
- It’s confusing
But most of all, the biggest deterrent is due to the fact that there’s no easy to follow path to find what you must do. There is no course on Mission Finding 101.
Even still, it doesn’t change the fact that this question exists. And until you answer it, you will find little peace of mind. You’ll probably think that something is wrong with you if you can’t figure it out. Maybe you’re just not meant to have a purpose or vocation. Other people seem to be doing great finding their purpose, so why can’t you? And even the people that aren’t doing so well at it, they seem so “okay” with not finding it. They’ve settled and resigned. So why can’t you?
The truth is, not many people are really okay with not doing what makes them come alive. They may do a good job pretending they don’t care, but they do. And as for the people that have figured it out, it probably wasn’t easy for them. They probably made a lot of dumb mistakes and stumbled around before they found their path.
So the point is, it’s not easy. Don’t pretend that it is. The reasons you’re avoiding chasing down your dreams are perfectly valid. Let them be valid.
While we’re at it, it’s worth asking the question: Is there anything you really must do?
The short answer: No.
If your inner rebel balks at the idea of what you “must” do, that’s perfectly normal. It happens for me, too. Whenever I tell myself I should or must do something, I usually don’t do it. I know that, so I phrase the things that I’m going to do as wants or needs.
So must you really do anything? No, you mustn’t. No one is going to penalize you or deduct life points if you don’t. The purpose of rephrasing this question this way is that it gets down to the essential. What we must or “can’t not do” with our lives, when approached in the right way, helps us focus on the “the thing” that we’re meant to do. You know, like the core of who you are. Getting down to what we must do is about unfolding who we are. When we let who we are unfold and completely honor our highest potential, we find our greatest joy.
Now I’d like to tell you a little bit about my experience with this “oh my god terrifying” life question.
For a long time, I tried to pretend that this question wasn’t important. I tried to silence my heart, wondering why it had to be so difficult. Following a practical, worn path was so much more comfortable. It’s hard to not let the fear of uncertainty take control.
But despite my attempts to ignore the voice, it kept calling. Sometimes it would get quieter, but it was persistent nonetheless.
And it always came back to fear.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of never finding the right path.
Fear of not having something other people would value.
Fear of not living up to my potential.
Fear of never realizing my calling.
It’s backwards, but it seems that fear of not realizing your potential keeps you from doing anything to achieve it. It’s easier to live with the uncertainty than to try and come face to face with the fact that maybe, just maybe, you didn’t have what it takes.
But at some point you have to make a choice. You have to decide that it’s more important to do what you must (even if you don’t know what that is), than to let uncertainty rule your mind.
If you really want to be the ruler of your life, you have to make a promise to yourself that is perhaps one of the most important things you can do. You have to promise yourself that…
I’ll follow my heart, even if I’m stumbling down an unclear path, and listen to the signs that life gives me. I’ll trust that if I make the resolve to honor my potential, that eventually I will find my calling. Whether or not I fail, never find my path, or don’t live up to my potential, it’s not as important as knowing that I never tried.
When you decide that, it’s game-over. No more wondering if it will happen. It’s just a matter of time before it does.
To help you get more clear on the path you’d like to follow…
- Create a personal manifesto. This guide by Gwen will help you create a tangible road map for what exactly you want to make out of your life. Look at the patterns that come up, and you’ll find some clues.
Once you have an idea of your path…
- Step up and play a much bigger game. Once you’ve figured out what you must do, chances are you’re still probably playing it a bit safe. This guide and workbook will help you break out of your perceived limits and play a bigger game. I recently used this workbook from Dave and I found a ton of ways to step up my game and push past my perceived limits.
The only way to make the path clear is by wandering. Don’t set out with a purpose; simply follow whatever calls to you. Take the pressure off. You have time all the time in the world. This isn’t a race.
Whatever you do, don’t let not knowing keep you from doing what you must do. Whenever you take a step toward your dreams, the Universe takes ten. You’ll be surprised at how much the path will become clear when you simply decide to see it out to the end.