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  • Writer's pictureMC Mendez

Finding your path

Some people find their passion as early as childhood and stay the course until adulthood and make it their profession. Others are interested in several areas and make more or less appropriate choices in their professional lives. There are also those who follow the recommendations of others or those who choose a niche "because there are opportunities" or because "it pays well". Regardless of the path taken or the trigger element, some eventually find themselves, after a few years, or even a few decades, confused, lacking in meaning and desperately seeking their way.

But what does « Finding one’s path exactly mean? I pondered this very question at one point in my career. I felt exhausted, run down and on the verge of a burnout. Yet I had made it a priority to do my best, to be efficient, to meet expectations, why was I feeling so exhausted and discouraged? The first thing I understood was that there was a big difference between what I liked to do and what I was good at.

At the start of my career, I applied myself to all the tasks assigned to me, whether I liked them or not. It motivated me because I was constantly learning. I was taking my first steps in the professional world and wanted to prove that I was reliable and valuable. And since learning was a motivation for me it worked pretty well for a while.

Over time though, I saw my energy levels gradually decrease. Not only had my skills slowly drifted away from my passions, I could no longer find any motivation in anything. My colleagues and bosses were however delighted with what I brought to them while for me everything felt demanding and meaningless. It was then that I realized that I was fulfilling the needs of others and not my own. I had put myself at the service of others without even thinking about mine.

An introspective time ensued. I started questioning who I was, what my drivers were, my intrinsic motivations, the tasks that gave me energy and those that took it away? Little by little I was able to forge a better picture of my personality, my needs, my resources. But then came the inevitable question of "my mission". Because even if we do things that we love and for which we are competent, that doesn’t necessarily address the question of "meaning".

I like to dance and cook for example and I have very good skills in these areas. I could have taken one of these paths, but in the long run I would have felt a lack of meaning, because my call is not to provide entertainment, beauty or to delight the taste buds of others, apart from occasionally. On the other hand, accompanying others to align themselves, to be themselves, to deal with hurdles or problems, to achieve their personal goals, just thinking about it I already feel transported, energized. I am enthusiastic about the growth, well being and success of others and I feel completely at home when I contribute to it.

Often when someone is in search of their path, we concentrate on what that person likes to do and that is a good place to start, but without this question of meaning, whatever stems from there may not be very sustainable. What do we want to bring to this world? What role do we want to play? To contribute to what kind of world? Didn't Gandhi say: Be the change you want to see in this world? In addition, you may already be fulfilling this mission in another more natural way on a daily basis, with your friends or relatives.

Once the mission is found, you can see how some of your passions and skills can feed and support it. Actually, some passions and interests are better left as such, and not enter the professional sphere. Have you ever noticed how an interest/passion that is turned into a professional activity can sometimes become unbearable? That's when it is linked to expectations that make no sense to you. Should the goal make sens, that passion would grow and take its place. Some passions are also better suited to hobbies, and act as "out-of-work"resources to recharge and have fun.

So the important thing is that once you have identified your mission, you can start thinking which skills and passions can help you accomplish that mission? And this association can take so many different forms! Whoever feels the mission to "bring beauty to the world" could just as easily become a painter, a singer, or a graphic designer but also a dentist if he/she is motivated by beautiful smiles, or a programmer, if beauty for him translates into code worthy of a purist. Anything is possible, provided that the three ingredients are in adequacy!

Finding your path could therefore be translate into this equation:

Path = (Passions + Skills) x Meaning

So if you are searching for meaning in your professional or even personal life and if you are trying to find your path, carry out a search at three different levels:

1. What excites you, energizes you, feels good, no matter the outcome? What can you talk or read about for hours or do for hours without it costing you any energy?

2. What are you good at? What are your main skills? What other abilities appeal to you or would you like to develop as well? What qualities do people around attribute to you. Which of those qualities do you like?

3. What do you want to bring to this world? (To contribute to what ideal?) What are your values ​​and how can your passions and skills help you in fulfilling that mission? What forms could that take? Which people do you admire, what are their missions?

The question of meaning is therefore essential to see more clearly and to make sustainable decisions. Unfortunately we still remain very focused on our skills and our passions, which are important and can already give a wide range of clues, but which do not hold if they do not come to support something larger.

In other words, the meaning could be "The destination", the skills "the vehicle" that takes you there, and the passions "the fuel"! So if you decide to undertake such a journey, take the time to choose your destination well, find the right vehicle(s) to get there, make sure you are using the appropriate fuel(s) and the itinerary could well be all mapped out for you!

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