If you are reading this article, I’m guessing that you’re feeling stuck somewhere in your life. Maybe there’s something that you want to do in your life, and perhaps, you’re struggling with the fears or self-doubts that are holding you back. I have a family to support and my kids are just growing up. You might have a vague sense of what you want to do, or be completely clueless. You probably don’t know what you are doing – or not doing. Something inside you isn’t in harmony with your deeper self. Am I in the right career? What is my purpose? I feel stuck and lost fumbling through life with no real purpose or direction. Am I normal to have this feeling? Sometimes, you might even end up feeling that fulfillment is only for a select few and that you’re not one of them.
I can understand all the turmoil that is going through your mind and the way your life is spinning out. Till a few years ago, I was operating on autopilot, pretty much in the same state as you are today, and going through all the motions day after day, feeling anxious in the morning and unfulfilled at night. When I came out of secondary school (that’s about 25 years ago), I didn’t know what I’d do. The only career tracks I knew of back then were 4 – Engineer, Doctor, Banker and Teacher. I clearly knew that I did not particularly enjoy Biology or Chemistry at school, so the Doctor track was out of question. Left with just 3 career choices, I choose Engineering (and in particular Computer Science/Engineering), because it seemed the most lucrative and versatile path to choose. So, it was all set for me, as far as it goes with my life and career, be a Computer Engineer, work in world’s leading software companies for a few years, and then build my own software. But, this was far from reality. Armed with multiple degrees in Computer Engineer/Science and an MBA, I still felt frustrated, anxious, lost and unfulfilled. I jumped multiple software companies and roles, working across multiple countries, like a frog in the pond, jumping from one leaf to another, hoping to find what mattered to me. For almost 25 years, I kept asking myself Why I do what I do and what do I need to do to experience a fuller me? And, to add to my woes and misery, I am an Introvert. Automatically, that reduced my options, right? I would completely lose all my energy in stimulating social events. I used to hate (and sometimes still do) talking on the phone. So, being an engineer, punching keys on my keyboard, creating some amazing software and apps was possibly the best thing for me to do. Better make it my purpose and find balance in my career, my relationship and all other areas of my life – One would say.
I’ll be honest with you. It took a whole lot of work and commitment to begin my own journey toward understanding why I did what I did. And building software or owning a software company sometime in the future wasn’t my calling. As I began my own journey of self-exploration, I realized my true calling – the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves – in coaching. By the way, I am still consulting with my earlier company 20% of my time. I am not telling you this to boast or impress, but to express to you that you too can live a life you love.
You don’t have to leave what you doing or what you have
Pursuing your purpose does not mean that you stop everything else that you are doing. You don’t have to leave everything, wander off to the Himalayas in search of that right balance. You don’t have to let go of your materialistic possessions. You can have a yacht or drive a Ferrari and still know your purpose. These are not mutually exclusive. Finding and pursuing your purpose in life is a lot easier than you think. All you need to do is step out of your own way and it will happen naturally. While you are doing what you are doing currently, be open and aware of how you can pursue being your natural and authentic self. Look at how your strengths can be of service to others.
Being an Introvert isn’t the end of the world
Living in a very extroverted culture, we, as introverts, automatically feel the need to try and please others. Being introverts, we automatically start seeing ourselves as aliens. So, instead of seeing who we really are, we feel obliged to build on how other people see us. And, that’s where it all starts to go wrong. When we fall short of expectations, we begin to chastise ourselves. We submit to mediocrity. Introversion and extroversion occur on a spectrum. When you realize this fact, you would understand that there are different degrees of introversion. No one is a complete introvert. Being an introvert or an extrovert or somewhere in-between, whilst a personality trait, is still a choice that we can make. We can choose to be an introvert when we need to replenish our energies and can shift the frequencies as often as we need it. No, I am not saying to turn into an extrovert. As a personality trait, we will always continue to be introverts and still be flexible. And, as introverts, we don’t need to be cured or transformed. In our culture, where extroversion is the norm, being an introvert can often be scary and different. The next time you are thinking that you are nobody because you are an introvert, think of the most amazing and successful introverts like Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Marissa Mayer, JK Rowling, Warren Buffett, Michael Jordan, Elon Musk, Mahatma Gandhi and Barack Obama. As introverts, they are enough. And so are we, we are enough! Our “Introvert” label shouldn’t prevent us from our ambitions and success. Don’t put too much stock into it. The world needs us.
Recognize your excuses
If you don’t believe in yourself, then you can create many excuses to stop going after your dreams. You may tell yourself that you’re not worthy of your dreams or that they’re foolish. You may convince yourself that you don’t deserve success, happiness, or other good things. Doubt can make you stay in a comfortable place that isn’t fulfilling. Doubts and excuses arise primarily from fear. Recognize that these are only conduits to stay small and in your cage of comfort. To create transformation, you need to find ways to go beyond the boundary of the conscious limits of your thinking. Recognize that fear is normal and so is courage. Choose courage over your fears. Start with doing one thing that makes you uncomfortable, each day! When your excuses kick in, acknowledge them and say No, thank you!
Avoid letting your struggles stop you
Struggles can increase your doubt about your abilities to achieve your goals. They can cause you to give up and walk away – if you let them. Struggles and challenges are a natural part of the journey toward your dreams. Rather than pretending that the issues don’t exist or that you can avoid them, face them head on. When problems appear, you have a choice – be a part of the problem or be a part of the solution. Know that you can find a solution and continue moving forward toward your dreams. It might be a different path than what you originally planned, but consider that it might be even better, too.
View your challenges in a new way
Life is filled with teachable moments that can help you get to your dreams. Usually, they take the form of challenges. Challenges can shape and transform you. Instead of thinking of your challenges as failures, look at them as learning opportunities, or results that can show you a new, more effective approach. Think of challenges as a sign that you’re growing as a person and making progress. Think of them as a chance to experience something new.
To The Warrior Within!