Could you say, without a doubt in your mind, that you know what you want? Do you wake up every morning with focus and clarity, knowing that every step you take is bringing you closer to your goals?
If you can: you're lucky. Most of us, from the moment we reach adolesence through late adulthood, can barely keep consistent dreams. Our careers, mounting responsibilities, and long-standing fears get in the way of our clarity.
It's no wonder then that most adults often echo (with a wounded sense of humor) "I still don't know what I want to do."
This problem isn't particuarly easy to solve, either. If it were, we could just take a quick online quiz, keep the two-sentence results in our wallet, and constantly refer to it with a relieved sigh. But it's not just about understanding what we want: it's about understanding why we want it.
Passion, Passion, Passion
Passion has become the ultimate buzzword. It's become an important standard in the entrepeneurial world as an indicator of future success. Where many industries have recently opened up, people have found more personally satisfying opportunities to earn money. It makes sense that we're focused on passion: in the first world, we're being given every opportunity to do all the cool and fun stuff our predecessors couldn't.
But we might be looking for passion in the wrong place. Many times, we start with the verb when it comes to passion.
*I'm passionate about music (composing)
*I'm passionate about art (painting)
*I'm passionate about helping others (volunteering)
As I've said before (and many have said before me), we are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS. So why do we jump to action first, when we should start our journey from the inside? Because it's a whole lot easier to figure out the "what" than it is the "why."
I constantly stress the importance of your why on this blog. That's because your whats change. Circumstances are impermanent. Life is unpredictable and shifts in wild ways despite our attempt to keep it tied down. But your why is a constant. Your "what" exists in a wholly material way -- you won't have it forever because life throws beautiful curveballs at us.
But your why… that's in your being. The why is a part of you that can't be destroyed unless you choose to change it yourself. It's a guiding principle that can follow you no matter where life takes you. It gives you resilience in times of trouble and momentum during the good days. In the end, your why is simply the thing that brings you great joy.
So let's try to figure out your why and keep it going strong with a few tips and methods to focus your life on your inner journey.
Trust Your Inner Child
When we're kids, we're free. Up to a certain point, all that we care about is experiencing and learning about the world. We lead entirely with the heart. Eventually, we learn caution (which is what helps us survive) and are given new responsibilities (which help us grow). There's no problem with growing up and becoming an adult -- maturity is time's gift to us. But your inner child is an invaluable part of a rich and balanced life.
We often have lofty dreams and goals when we're children. We want to reach the moon or become ninjas or princesses. We are excited by the possiblities of doing the things we see on TV or read in books. Now, since you've spent more time on earth, you've figured out that certain things are a little tougher to do and take some work. But why not give your inner child a chance to share some of their enthusiasm with you?
By journaling about your childhood or just reminiscing about what it felt like to be a kid, you can give yourself a little insight into your why. We're still the kids we used to be, just a little older and wiser. So when you give your inner child a chance to come through and make you smile, you get a window into what makes you happy, which is really the why we're searching for.
Be With Yourself
There are plenty of ways to spend time nurturing your mind and spirit. Oftentimes, we miss out on our why simply because we're too busy to think. By using methods like meditation, journaling, dancing, or simply relaxing, you give yourself time to slow down and take an inner journey. The results or benefits of these practices probably won't be instant, but creating good habits can enrich your life and get you closer to discovering your why.
Taking time daily to write about your day can give you clarity about where you stand. Some people never journal because they're afraid of someone else discovering it or just because they might "do it wrong." There is no wrong way to journal. Even writing one little line about how your day went is enough to give you a little boost of insight.
If you want to go deeper, extensive journaling is a powerful self-discovery tool that needs no particular methodology. Simply write and let the thoughts out on paper or word processor. You'll be surprised at how much your brain wants to tell you.
Your why will come out naturally as you write your days down. You'll become inquisitive by nature as you get more into the habit and find patterns and situations that you respond to in a certain way. Those patterns will naturally rise to the surface as you write and you'll begin to identify your personal motivators.
Everyone is always touting the benefits of meditation. It can help with depression and anxiety and improve your day if you do it every morning. But meditation and "being with yourself" is a valuable and tool-free self-discovery method that you can pretty much do anywhere. Even 10 minutes of meditation every day can greatly improve your life.
When you meditate habitually, your mind gets stronger, which helps it repel intrusive thoughts. This gives you a better opportunity to see things "as they are," which can help you discover why you behave in certain ways. This introspective art is one of the most powerful ways to develop your why, but it might also be the toughest, so be sure to stick it out if it doesn't work for you immediately.
I know I said it's not necessary, but taking a passion test could help you figure out where you stand in the way of your goals. If you're totally lost on what you really want or your anxiety keeps you from moving forward, a passion test can help you get clarity that might ease your mind.
Good passion tests aren't like career aptitude tests -- they're more focused on internal aspects of the self. That means they'll ask you about what drives you and give you multiple choices, which can help you if your biggest problem is having too many choices.
There are plenty of great passion tests online, so all you have to do is hit the search engine and shop around for a few (free) online surveys.
Your Vision Board
I've talked about the vision board extensively before, but it bears repeating. A vision board is a powerful tool that works to centralize your goals. It's simply a collage (if you have the room, make it big so you have plenty of space) where you paste photos and words that fall in line with your vision.
The vision board is a great tool for those of us who sometimes forget who we are or have patterns of falling in and out of our goals. A good board is loaded with photos that are directly or abstractly related to your goals. You can paste big words that define your best qualities on there, too, as a motivational tool that keeps your confidence going day after day.
Constantly adding to and referring to your vision board can help you discover why you do the things you do.
Hopefully these tools will help you get closer to discovering your why. When you know your reasons for doing something, you can begin to prioritize actions and behaviors to serve your happiness. And that's what we all want in the end.
Thanks for reading!