How to Love What You Do: A Guide to Discovering What You Were Born to Do

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, but I do know this isn’t it.”

This can be a frustrating realization, especially for a professional who has the talent, the knowledge, the skills and the abilities to be successful, just like anyone else. Perhaps you are:

  • Not satisfied with your career
  • Hating your job
  • Feeling like there’s so much more you were meant to do
  • Or asking yourself “Why am I doing this?” every day.

The misery you’re feeling should get your attention and let you know it’s time to have greater satisfaction in your career and life by finding out what you were born to do.

“Making it Work” Doesn’t Work

Have you ever been in a job that you knew wasn’t right for you and for whatever reason – a mortgage payment, school loan, run-of-the-mill bills, or the sheer fright of having to start over again in something new – you stayed with it?  Spending eight to ten precious hours each day doing things that don’t excite you or resonate with who you are creates stress, causes burnout, and has a powerful negative effect on your health, your relationships and your life.  I know because I did it.

The defining moment for me was when I fell down 18 steps, almost breaking my neck, on my way to a business meeting. I was exhausted from an overwhelming workload and back-to-back cross-country trips. As I was rolling down those stairs, I heard my neck crack, and I wondered if I’d ever walk again. In the quiet solitude of the emergency room, the tough question I’d been shoving aside for a long time came to the surface: “What am I doing this for?”

No longer willing to feel like I was just surviving for a paycheck or sacrificing my well-being, I began a journey to discover my purpose and to shift into a rewarding career that included greater satisfaction, balance, and happiness as well as success. Since 2001 I’ve been coaching other professionals to do the same.

You Have a Purpose

Everyone has been called for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in his or her heart. – Jalaluddin Rumi, 12th-century Persian mystic and poet.

Each of us is born with a distinctive set of talents and gifts. Everyone has a specific design like no one else with a specific role to play and a unique contribution to make. Knowing your purpose and what you were meant to do helps you find the career path and job that is right for you.  It shows you where you fit and helps you understand where you don’t.

Without really being conscious of it, we all are doing what we are born to do. We can’t help but live our unique design. The problem comes from not knowing what that is and then trying to do it in the wrong place. Being in a job that is not aligned with who you are saps your energy because most likely you are at odds with something – a boss, a co-worker, what your company stands for, the hours it takes away from what you really want to do, or a lack of recognition for what you contribute. For example, perhaps an engineer or administrator can easily see how to solve a problem, and he or she knows just what needs to be done; it comes easily. The higher-ups, however, aren’t really interested in getting problems solved. The resources aren’t there. The creativity and problem solving skills of skilled professionals like these aren’t recognized or appreciated. They feel frustrated, underappreciated and unrewarded for who they are and the talents they bring to work every day.

The disharmony that exists between who you are and what you’re doing may keep you from experiencing joy in your work.  It is a true sign that what you’re doing is out of alignment with what you were designed, or born, to do.

When you are in alignment with your purpose, you become motivated and inspired. You are recognized for the talents you contribute at work. Because you’re doing what you love and being recognized and rewarded for it, you experience greater happiness and well-being. You are so in the flow that what you’re doing doesn’t even feel like work because it comes so naturally to you.

Align With Your Purpose to Be Happy in Your Career

You can’t walk forward by looking backward. – Raymond Charles Barker.

Your purpose already exists.  All it takes is a willingness to discover and embrace some new ideas and to let go of who you thought you “should be” or who someone else, maybe a parent or a teacher, wanted you to be.

Finding your purpose may mean letting go of what you thought you should be for what you can become.  Deciding you’re worthy and deserving to break free of the limitations you experience in your job and making a conscious decision to explore what you were born to do allows the soil to become ripe for new things.   When you know your purpose and decide to get completely aligned with your talents, values, passion and purpose, the universe conspires to bring you the opportunities, resources, and connections you need to fulfill your desires.

How do you discover what you were born to do?

Here are three ways:

  1. Self-discovery.  Ask yourself some key questions, like the ones listed below, and write your answers in a journal to begin your exploration:
  • What do I love to do?
  • What makes me feel most energized?
  • What saps my energy?
  • What experiences at work are most enjoyable, inspiring, motivating or meaningful?
  • What would I do if I didn’t have to worry about money, bills, survival, etc.?
  • What would I do if I knew I could not fail?
  • Who do I know who is happy in his or her work that can be a role model?
  1. Self-Directed Study.  Plenty of books are available to lead you through exercises to help you find your purpose.  A couple of my favorites are:
  • The Purpose of Your Life:  Finding Your Place in the World Using Synchronicity, Intuition and Uncommon Sense, by Carol Adrienne and James Redfield
  • The Work We Were Born to Do, by Nick Williams
  • The Purpose Driven Life:  What On Earth Am I Here For?, by Rick Warren
  1. Guidance and Support.  Having unbiased guidance and support to lead you through the process of discovery is one of the quickest and easiest ways to discover your purpose. For example, for the last seven years I have provided my clients a unique assessment that unearths their authentic purpose, and then we use it as a foundation for determining a career path and the jobs that are in alignment with who they are for greater satisfaction and meaning in their work.

No matter which method you choose to find your purpose, begin without limits.  Allow yourself the time and space to discover what kind of work will motivate you to want to go to work every day.  Allow yourself to dream about doing the work that you were born to do.  Being inspired about the possibilities is the first step. Once you take the first step, that inspired action leads you to the next one and the next.  Soon you will be in a job where you are living your purpose and loving what you do.

©Linda Hardenstein, 2016

Linda Hardenstein, MPA, PCC is the creator of the THRIVE Formula™ for finding your “right fit” career. She has the uncanny ability to zero in on your unique strengths and unseen potential to take you from a job that has you just surviving to thriving in a career that you love.

How to Love What You Do: A Guide to Discovering What You Were Born to Do was originally published in Sharp Heels.