Not quite sure if you've found your life's purpose yet? Don't panic, that's perfectly normal.
In movies and TV shows, we always see characters whose lives have been shaped by their careers and goals—there’s Meredith Grey, doctor, Elle Woods, sorority girl-turned-lawyer, even young Blair Waldorf and her Yale ambition (Parks and Rec Deputy Director Leslie Knope is my personal fave). What we don’t usually see are people unsure of what they want to do in life—at most, we get a two-episode arc where the lead figures it out after a bunch of trials and mishaps.
In reality, it takes more than a misadventure or two to figure out your true calling. For most people, it takes years of labor, multiple career shifts, or even deep, financial struggles before they find what fits. And that's okay—that's real life. Your road to discovery can be just as meaningful as living your dream since it's what shapes who you are—professionally and otherwise.
So before you go back to being nega and pessimistic, here's a simple exercise: Think of how life was like two years ago, or more importantly, how you were like two years ago and name five things about yourself that has changed since, even small things like your fave skincare brand, your spending habits, or maybe even the people you surround yourself with. All those happened because one day, you did something differently and things changed because of it. But while some were conscious decisions, others were merely a result of your actions, and isn't that how opportunities are created?
So while you may not have a series written about you anytime soon, there are many ways to find fulfillment later in life—you might not even have to switch jobs to find it. Here's how you can start:
Know that fulfillment comes in many forms
No job is perfect, and every industry has pitfalls and some form of controversy. This is why you can't always depend on external factors to dictate your satisfaction, and you don't need to be 100 percent passionate about your job to find purpose in it. Some people don't even find fulfillment in their careers and instead find it in their family, volunteer work, or hobbies. Of course this doesn't mean you should settle in a job you hate, but know the difference when the problem comes from within.
Accept that priorities change over time
According to a survey featured on the Guardian, "research by psychoanalyst Erik Erikson has found that young adults tend to focus foremost on establishing an income and home, seeking out a life partner and potentially starting a family. As people age, they start to think more about their contribution to society. This psychological shift leads them to increasingly prioritize purpose more."
Maybe you hated your job because the pay wasn't enough, but if you look at what you're doing and see that your work is meaningful in other ways, then that should count more later in life. One way around this is to find other sources of income so you don't equate happiness and stability to your salary.
Appreciate that you're good at your job
Sometimes, the job you have isn't necessarily what you love, but it's what you're good at, and that's fine! In some ways, having some sort of boundary can even help you with your work-life balance.
For instance, just because you love cooking and find fulfillment in it doesn't mean that's what you're meant to do your whole life. In fact, doing so could sometimes take away the joy in it. The key is to balance leisure and fun with professional challenges. This way, you make sure that you grow as an individual as your career advances.
Pay it forward
According to J. Walter Thompson’s “FilipinaNext: A study on Filipinas and where they are headed next,” 94 percent of Pinays are looking for women to step up as role models. So one way to truly make your work purposeful is to mentor someone less experienced than you. Sometimes, it's not the company but the people who make you love your job, so don't be afraid to open up and develop relationships at work. You never know where those partnerships could lead.
This story originally appeared on FemaleNetwork.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.