If you are trying to identify what you should be doing with your life then in my opinion it all starts with self awareness.
When I talk about self awareness I’m referring to knowing what makes you tick. What excites you? What makes you curious? And why?
Why does that thing excite you? What is it about that thing that inspires you?
It’s only from here that your quest can really start. Because if you do not know these things then you are kinda stuffed from the beginning. How can we expect to know what we should be doing if we don’t know what makes us happy?
Put another way, if you know what propels you and motivates you, you can start joining the pieces of the jigsaw together.
You can start looking at the things you’re good at, and combine them with the things that you’re passionate about, and start looking at using it to add value in the world.
When I started asking the question “who am I and what makes me tick?” I realised a key proponent to my happiness was being valued by others and being what I always called “a positive force in the world”. It’s crucial to me that I make a positive difference. I hate to be a burden on others, I’m independent and I have an intrinsic need to want to feel valued.
That was hard for me to admit initially. And sometimes it can be tough, but you have to be honest with yourself. If you lie to yourself or keep the façade up then your results will be skewed and you won’t be getting a true picture of yourself.
When it all boiled down, the reason why I wanted to help other people was because I wanted to feel like I was “of value”. It was selfish and a little needy. But it was true.
For me it wasn’t the money. I’d have taken “being of value” over “money” all day long. In fact I quit my £50k a year job and took a £12k a year job purely because I wanted better job satisfaction. I didn’t find it on that occasion, but the fact I was prepared to do that told me that this wasn’t about money.
Only then was I able to drill down into what motivated me.
I saw sides of me that I hadn’t thought about before.
I started to put the jigsaw pieces together. The fact that at aged 5 I wanted to be a policeman because I wanted people to look at me and think “he’s a good person”. Around 10 years old I often interviewed my family on my aunties tape recorder and on my dads camcorder because I loved the idea of having my own show. I worked beach patrol in my summer holidays instead of hanging with my mates because the reward of helping an utterly distraught parent find her missing child who had been missing amongst a sea of thousands of people for over an hour was unlike any feeling I’d felt before.
I coached youth football at 17 years old because I was always better at explaining and teaching than I was at the actual doing. By 25 I was teaching people how to interview and investigate criminals, because I was way better at teaching great investigators than I was doing the actual investigating.
I joined the dots and became a coach. Helping people. I only then had to choose a subject matter that motivated me and inspired me. But it all came from knowing myself and knowing what made me tick.
So if you’re trying to work out what you should be doing, take some time over the next week or two and keep thinking about what makes you tick.
What do you love and why? What excites you and why? What have you always loved doing, and why? Why why why? Dig down further to that second level and ask yourself why you feel that way about that thing. It may well open up some ideas and thoughts that were otherwise locked up and forgotten.