How to Bulldoze the Beliefs That Hold Us Back From Pursuing Our Purpose
I know you have a heart-inkling that there’s more for you out there than your current career path. It may even be the sense that there’s a purpose to be discovered.
For sure, it can feel easier and safer to stick with the majority, who tell themselves stories like:
Life is unfair, and work is meant to be hard
You can’t make an income doing what you love
Just suck it up – work’s never going to be perfect
You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are – you’d be risking it all if you threw in the towel now
You think you have a purpose?! What kind of woo-woo crap is that?
Just be grateful, you’re lucky to have a job
Look at how many people you’d be letting down if you leave.
But if you’re honest, no amount of storytelling will make the inkling go away, will it?
Pursuing a path of purpose goes against the grain and requires a hefty dose of courage.
You’ll knock up against plenty of naysayers. Starting with yourself.
The good news is, yourself -- AKA your inner world -- is exactly where you need to start.
Courage, at this early stage, invites two actions.
One: Pay Attention
Consider yourself invited to pay more attention to that inkling inside you. The one that, no matter how quietly, tells you that there’s something more. It may whisper, or it may roar.
Ask it what it has to say.
Allow yourself the luxury of whistling away to a fantasy world, where rules don’t exist and you already have this ‘something more’ that you want.
It doesn’t matter if it seems foolish, embarrassing, or impossible.
It should feel a little this way.
Use a pen and paper, allow yourself to daydream, visualise how it looks or feels, dream it up in the shower... whatever works.
It doesn’t have to be a complete picture, nor a coherent story.
Fragments, words, images or feeling states are enough.
Capture them somehow.
And if this feels too much, I invite you to simply start paying attention to anything that piques your curiosity.
Notice what you’re drawn to.
What you want to discover more about.
What you talk about all the time.
Who you like talking to.
What you’d happily do for hours.
It doesn’t have to be ‘work’ related. One I wrote down a while back was ‘watching dogs play at the beach’. Don’t hold yourself back or judge yourself.
Just pay attention. Make a note. Notice any themes.
Two: Notice Your Reasons Why I Can’t
Pay particular attention to your reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t find your ‘something more’.
Here are some examples to help you recognise your own.
I don’t know what my purpose is. I’m blocked. I can’t figure it out.
I couldn’t possibly leave my job. I need the income/status/security.
Work isn’t meant to be enjoyable. I just have to suck it up.
You can’t turn passion into sustainable work and income.
My partner / colleagues / family will judge me if I tell them about my dreams.
A caution on this. Trying to identify your reasons, AKA thoughts, can be a little like catching flies at first.
They may be fleeting.
Or, they may be so familiar you don’t hear them at all.
But keep listening. Listen to why you can’t, or shouldn’t, or what you think your Mum would think.
Listen to what you say to others on this topic.
And notice anything that comes up when you do step one. We invariably knock up against our limiting thinking when we allow ourselves to imagine.
Another word of caution. Your reasons may feel more like cold hard facts to you right now.
Yes. I often fall into the trap of believing my own thoughts-disguised-as-facts too.
The process of discovering that our thoughts are merely things our brains churn out, in the same way our lungs breathe, can be quite a big concept to wrap our heads around.
For now, I’d just like to plant the seed that maybe we don’t always have to believe what we think.
Okay. Imaginings and curiosities written down. Reasons Why I Can’t are being noticed.
Now, inject persistence.
Because eventually, the courage in pursuing a path of purpose turns to conviction. That conviction is enough to bulldoze your reasons Why I Can’t. Exactly those which once kept you captive!
One day, you realise, idly looking around, the balance has tipped in your favour.
Worries that once sounded like:
What about my status? What will people think of me when I can no longer tell them about my busy and important management role?
What about my income? Which really means, what about my security? Will I end up living in a cardboard box? And what about my lifestyle? Which really means, I might be less happy with fewer material things.
What about my career? If I take a side-step now, won’t that ruin all hope for the future?
...have been firmly replaced with:
Status isn’t even on my radar anymore.
And I surround myself with people who back my passions, rather than measure me against some outdated definition of success.
Fulfilling work has an infinitely greater impact on my happiness than material things.
A soul-destroying job takes infinitely more happiness away from me than material things could ever make up for. Oh, and who's to say I won't earn more money doing the thing I was born to do?
Absolute conviction that I will always find more work if I need to.
And worrying about never finding work again should it all fail horribly is an absolutely insufficient excuse not to try. My 90 year old self just doesn’t buy this excuse.
Can you see how our thinking can either keep us stuck – or set us free?
This dismantling of our most tightly held beliefs doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen! 😉
The longing, and conviction for finding and living your purpose eventually outweighs all your excuses (ahem, I mean your very compelling reasons) not to.
Believe me when I tell you I wrote this for you on behalf of your future self.
So keep imagining, keep following your curiosities, and keep dismantling your mind’s (and society’s) stories.
This exercise will take you even further on your quest to discover – and live – your purpose.
Once you have a good sense of your Reasons Why I Can’t, and want some help dismantling them, try this.
For each ‘reason’, answer the following questions:
Can I absolutely know it’s true?
What is it costing me to keep believing it?
Then, challenge yourself to find one person who believes or demonstrates the opposite, as an example that this is not the only way to look at things. It could be anyone: a colleague, friend, celebrity, author...
Reason: You can’t turn passion into sustainable work and income.
Opposite: Find one person who has turned their passion into sustainable work and income.
I’d love to know how you get on! Comment below so others can learn from your experience too, or send me a quick message here.
P.S. Coaching is incredibly helpful for honing in on and helping to dismantle the thoughts that keep us stuck. I’d never have got this far in my own journey without it.