You did all the right things: went to college, got a job that pays you well. You even get to trav-el here and there, expenses all paid by the company. But somehow, working in the corporate world makes you feel trapped. You feel alone. No one understand you. They may even tell you, “every-thing is great with your life, what are you even talking about?” Or maybe they suggest that you be more grateful with what you have and move on with life, as they do.
But what about that itching inside of you - that tingle that makes you want to do something that really matters? You have the desire and the willingness to put in constant effort to pursue that “thing”… if only you know what that “thing” is!
The problem is, feeling stressed about not finding your one and only passion can actually be pulling you further away from it. So why not try these methods to start living life that feels more authentic, one small step at a time?
Step 1. Relax and Acknowledge that You’re on a Journey
I am now an artist, knowing deeply in my heart that art is my passion. But it hasn’t always been this way.
Growing up in a single parent family, I was raised by my dad to believe that success equalled money. Any creative expression was dismissed. What counted was the test scores, with the ultimate goal being getting a job in finance. I used to believe that was the only pass to a fulfilled life.
In my last year of studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce, I landed a job in corporate banking. But the cubicle, the meetings and the office politics were draining life out of me.
I left after a few years and co-founded an international trades business with a partner. It grew organically. But I was still feeling empty inside. It did not make me feel like home. I was fast feel-ing anxious because I was fast approaching thirty, and I still hadn’t got my life figured out.
Now, looking back at my journey, I wish I can tell my younger self to just relax. If I didn’t get into finance, I wouldn’t know that the corporate values were contradictory to my own. If I didn’t start that importing business, I wouldn’t have the financial income to support my family, and I wouldn’t have acquired the skills to run my own art business now.
As long as we acknowledge the itching within, and take small actions regularly to learn more about ourselves, we will grow.
Step 2. Get to Know Your Core Values
I’ve taken a few different personality type tests and strength finders on my self-discovery jour-ney, and the DISC profile is by far the most empowering. It’s an incredible tool for self-discovery. Instead of asking you questions that you could sort of tell how it would affect your results, the questions in the DISC profile is designed to work on your subconscious, bypassing the mind that will try to manipulate your answers. You’ll get many ah-ha moments when you get your results.
My results showed that my highest values are beauty, harmony and uniqueness. No wonder the first time I picked up a paint brush and made my first horrible painting, I knew I was born to be an artist. No wonder I refused to have microwave in my kitchen simply because it looked ugly.
Step 3. Get to Know Your Natural Style
The DISC profile then goes on to show you your behaviour patterns. It compares your natural style with your adaptive style. The latter is the way you behave when you feel you’re being ob-served, and it’s when you’re acting inauthentically.
Reading my profile drew up a lot of memories and gave me a clearer perspective on my pas ex-perience. Naturally, I was enthusiastic and quite sociable. But I had become more and more with-drawn since I moved to Australia from China at age 16. I was emotionally abused by my mom, and that made didn’t make me feel safe at all in a brand new country.
But remembering how I really was gave me the confidence and courage to make the necessary changes to start interacting with the world in a more authentic and natural way.
Step 4. Keep a Journal
There are many ways to keep a journal - a writing journal, a visual journey, or a combination of the two. You don’t have to be able to write or draw well in your own journal.
Laura Simms, an actor-turned-career coach, suggests writing down one “exquisite moment” every day in her “Your Career Homecoming” challenge. It sounds simply enough, but it helps you practice your gratitude muscle, without falling into the trap of writing the same “five things I’m grateful for today” list. Over time, you may notice a pattern of what makes you smile or light up. And that could open a new doorway to self-discovery.
The mirror has literally healed me from depression. I paint self portraits as a way to practice self awareness, self acceptance and self compassion. The drawing or painting that flow out from your heart will also tell you something that you didn’t already know about yourself. Sometimes my visual journal is a linen canvas--sometimes it’s simply a 2-minute sketch in an A5 size notebook.
You can also combine the writing and the visual. Mixed media artist Tam Laporte does a fan-tastic job of combining art journaling with healing. Just write or draw it out with your fingers. You’ll get to discover your deepest truth in safe place.
Step 5. Learn New Things
I stumbled on an e-course on drawing and painting portraits couple of months before my sec-ond child’s birth. Had I not taken that course, I might not have discovered my passion then. I be-lieve I eventually still would, but it would take longer.
If you’re unsure what your passion is, go out there and explore new things! Is it to take a life drawing class, or an e-course on art and painting? How about writing poetry or novels? Or is it to take a tennis lesson? Or maybe it’s doing volunteer work in Africa? The key here is to keep learning new things, expanding your comfort zone. And before you know it, you would have fallen into “the thing.” With all these tools to use and things to learn, it’s important to breathe, pause and remind yourself to just relax. Self-discovery is a journey. It’s a journey of a life-time, as we continue to grow.
What is your next step on this wonderful journey?