Are you living with purpose and alignment?

Or are you feeling unfulfilled (or unaligned) with your life, and you don’t know what to do?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the second bucket. Unless you’re Justin Bieber or something, the chances are that you still don’t know what you want to do by the time you get out of school (even decades later).

It feels like it’s just a fact of life that we’re bound to run into worse territory once we leave the treacherous teenage years.

Sure, you might look around at your network and see a few people here and there that are following their passion and living with purpose, but for the vast majority, they’re all wandering around, trying this and that. That and this. Until hopefully, something clicks, or they fall off a cliff.

And that’s nothing to feel ashamed about.

Sure, you can be upset, annoyed, or disappointed because you had high hopes for yourself. You imagined living with purpose while ALSO reaping the side benefits of a successful life (money, status, glory, kingdom!).

The good news is that life is not over yet (if it is, then why are you reading this!), and you can still figure out what you want to do.

It’s just a matter of time before it clicks for you the way it clicked for me.

I’m officially 33 years old, and it’s only now that I’m living with purpose. It’s only now that I’m actually doing work I’m passionate about. But it took many mindset shifts, personal risk, and the shedding of old skin to get here.

But even if you’re 40, 50, or 60, it’s not too late to find your purpose.

Looking back at my own trajectory, to how I got here, I realize that certain things contributed to my Eureka moment. I didn’t just wake up one day and find my passion. Gosh, I wish it had been that easy! I wouldn’t have wasted 10 years of my life searching.

(click here to read the 10 steps to living with purpose)

During those 10 years, there was something that kept me moving in the right direction: knowing that I wasn’t living with purpose.

Someone who lives in misalignment feels it all the way to the core of their bones. I constantly felt the disconnect between what I was doing and what I was meant to do.

While I didn’t know what I was “meant” to do, I knew that whatever it was that I was doing wasn’t “it.” That was my guiding compass. If you sit down with yourself and look within, you’ll know immediately what I’m talking about.

Here are some signs you’re not living with purpose:

  • Spend your free time wandering around, watching Netflix, shopping, browsing social media
  • Say yes to random things without having a clear vision (taking a job for convenience, taking a class you don’t really care for, or travel somewhere you’re not excited about)
  • Answer no to the question, “does my life have a purpose?”
  • Dread waking up, and you live for the weekend
  • Get bored and have a hard time picking up new things to do

Compared to the signs of someone living with purpose:

  • Gets up eager to start their day, grateful for the time they have
  • Has a million and one ideas about where they want their life to go
  • Does things to improve themselves (reading, learning a new skill/language)
  • Makes decisions that are aligned with their purpose (taking jobs that get them closer to their goal, invest money in themselves instead of on clothes/alcohol/vacations)
  • Doesn’t care about what others think about them or the life they chose

Now, I’m writing this article to give you a new perspective and renewed hope that living purpose is possible.

This is not a prescription, and it does take time. If you permit yourself to be patient, it will happen for you.

The hardest part is identifying the reality you’re in and accepting that you’re miserable in it. The chances are that if you clicked on this article, you’re feeling misery all around.

The steps I’m going to outline are not in a specific order, but instead, they’re ingredients that, when blended, will point you towards your passion and purpose. I find that these “ingredients” led me to where I’m at today, and if I remove one of them, I’d still be lost, floating around.

Now, to understand why these are the ingredients, you need to know my backstory, experiences, and the decisions I took along the way.

If you want to skip all of that (which I don’t recommend because then you’re taking the short-cut, and let’s face it, people who are on the look-out for shortcuts are not willing to change or put in the work, and that’s not you, is it?) then you can click here to skip it all and go straight to the steps.

conquer self-doubts

At this point in my life, I don’t own anything.

We sold our home, cars, and most things in 2019 when we moved from Florida to Amsterdam. We wanted to stay flexible, and practice minimalism, so we packed our most precious items such as photo books, mugs, and books in storage bins.

A few weeks ago, I went through these storage bins to see what else I could throw from the remainder of my belongings and fell upon a stack of papers.

Papers I had long gone forgotten. My eyes poured over their contents, and tears welled up my eyes. The words I read were mine.

There were poems, short stories, school essays, and comic strips. All were kept neatly stacked in a folder. I went through them, one by one, and was flooded with memories.

I don’t think I ever thought about how much writing meant to me.

How easily my fingers glided on paper. My mom used to tell me how much she admired the ease with which I wrote. Writing has always been a huge part of my identity.

It wasn’t something I learned; it was something that flowed through my body.

If I could go back in time and give my 10-year-old self a single piece of advice, I’d tell her this: “Keep writing, and don’t let anyone stop you.”

By the time I was 12, I had several poems published in poetry journals, countless overfilled diaries pouring out of my cupboard, and a plethora of unfinished short stories. Stories that were now in a bin were lost in obscurity because I never truly pursued my biggest passion.

I closed the folder and put the storage bin away.

Instead of walking away feeling nostalgic and proud of my younger self, I walked away angry. Angry that I had not pursued writing.

That I let myself fall on the wayside, consumed by other trivial matters such as social status and money as I got older.

I did pursue writing in the sense that I kept diaries and blogs throughout my life. Still, when I had the opportunity to dive deeper into creative writing in college, I decided instead to go down the route of Business Management so that I could have a “career.” I did actually end up having quite a successful career while I was at it.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that a successful career does not equate to life fulfillment or work happiness.

There’s a reason why Millennials have been on the hunt to find their “passion” in the past decade or so.

We’ve been disillusioned at the dream that was promised to us. I did everything right to be successful: I graduated with top honors in my undergraduate degree, had four internships by the time I graduated, and got a high-paying entry-level job as a Financial Analyst at a Fortune 500 company.

I was excited! Finally, I was on my way!

On my way to misery. After 18 months in that role, I had enough. I was not too fond of it. It was time to pivot into something else. Lucky for me, my manager at the time was on her way out, so she helped me find a position in the IT department.

She vouched for my can-do attitude and my aptitude for learning any new skill. So, I made a lateral move. Then, it happened again, 18 months later, I wanted out. I took a risk and left the company for a promotion.

Now, I was definitely on my way! More money! Better title!

As I was adjusting to my new role, this time in Data Analytics, I decided to go back to school and pursue a Master’s degree.

I told myself that if I wanted to be taken seriously in this domain, I better get some new skills fast.

Plus, the company was going to pay for most of it, so why not? Funnily enough, I became pregnant with my first child during my studies. There I was, juggling a full-time job while enrolled in a 2-year Master’s degree and pregnant.

Did I mention how much I hated my job?

Once I hit that 18-month mark again, I felt the itch to look for something else. But this time, I was stuck. I was pregnant and in school.

There was no way I would leave my cushy job during such a tumultuous time in my life.

So, instead, I decided to open a website. I didn’t know what it would be about, but I wanted to try the online world. I bought the domain Honestpot and decided that I was going to charge people for advice. My initial idea was to help anyone with anything.

I was definitely on my way! Brilliant money-making idea!

I toiled away for several months at it until I realized it was a dead-end and knew I had to pivot into something else. I remembered how much I loved to write, so I asked myself: “What do I want to write about?”. After jotting down several topics, I realized that being an introvert was the one thing I gravitated towards the most.

Of course! I bought a new domain, Honestrox, and started writing articles about being introverted. That evolved into writing several E-books. Then, I wanted to turn those into courses.

I finally had a vision for my website and the direction I wanted to go in.

But I was still working full-time. I wanted out. I had given birth to my son by this time, so I decided to look for a new job during my maternity leave. A week before my leave ended, I walked into the office and gave them my notice.

Now that I had a Master’s degree and more experience, I received an offer from my previous employer to work for them again.

Another promotion! More money!

If you feel like I’m repeating myself, it’s because I am. I’ll change it up a bit just for you. A year into this role, I got promoted to a Senior Functional Analyst. At this point in my life, I owned two homes (an investment property and my own home), two cars, two dogs, a husband, a baby, and a Master’s degree.

What more can a person want?!

On paper, I had everything. Sure, I could have done with a bigger house, but I hit all the milestones at the right time. And yet?

I was miserable, dreaded going to work, didn’t like my colleagues, and didn’t care much for the friends in my life.

I had severe anxiety, to the point of being scared to go outside, so I pretty much closed myself off from the world. What did make me happy, though, was working on my website.

I worked on my “business” while at my “real” job.

I hid in meeting rooms for hours to write articles, design my website, and post social media. Unfortunately, I was dropping the ball at work and had to apologize several times, but I was numb to it.

I didn’t care anymore about keeping up pretenses.

Then, one morning, as I walked into the office and saw all my colleagues drag themselves in as well, I realized that this could not be it. It couldn’t be. This was not how I wanted my life to unfold, day in and day out.

conquer self-doubts

So, I did something drastic. I applied for another Master’s degree, in Applied Cognitive Psychology, in the Netherlands. My thought process was that if I really wanted to do something with my online business, I needed some credibility in the space.

Since my goal was to help introverts, I needed to have some background in psychology.

I didn’t think my Master’s degree in IT management would ever be useful, but it’s because I got accepted into the Psychology program. As I had no prior experience with Psychology, they needed some proof that I could, in fact, go through the program and graduate.

So, there I was, again, giving my notice, except this time I was severing my ties for good. There was no going back! Ever!

We had two months to get our affairs in order.

We literally sold everything we could and jammed the rest into storage bins. Packed our bags, took our kid, and flew across the ocean to Amsterdam. I wish I could tell you that I lived happily ever after, but alas, it was not so.

See, while I knew deep in my heart that walking away from a corporate job was the best decision I ever made, I still did not have a clear vision of what was next for me. I was still trying to find my purpose.

I told myself that once I’d finish the Master’s degree in Psychology, that I’d have a better understanding of my “purpose.” In the meantime, I kept writing on my blog and kept honing in on my niche.

At this time, I made another pivot and started writing more about Social Anxiety. I planned to have several courses up and running by the time I finished the year.

Except, life has a funny way of getting in the way of plans.

Did I mention that I was pregnant again? Yep, there I was going to class and my internships, pregnant with my second child. Then 2020 hit us. All of us. The university closed down, and everything moved online.

I gave birth to my second child and went on maternity leave. I still had to finish my degree, so during my leave, I worked on my thesis. After pushing my deadline several times, I eventually graduated in February of 2021.

What was supposed to be a one-year program turned out to be 1.5 years.

1.5 years of not working and not making money.

Something so alien to me. Although I was an intern throughout the program, I wasn’t getting paid. I told the company that after I graduate if they want me to continue helping them, it would have to be within the confines of a freelancing contract. They agreed.

A few weeks before I was supposed to start getting paid, I made the biggest decision of my life.

I decided that I no longer wanted to chase the status quo but instead strike out on my own.

I asked myself this question “Will 80-year-old me tell me to go for it?”. The answer was a big yes. I didn’t want to live with the regret of not giving myself a chance to make it on my own. To not pursue what I’m desperately passionate about.

So, I reached out to my manager and told him that I was backing out to follow my passion.

A passion that was nonexistent a year ago.

It was cultivated through years of experiments and pivots. When I first set out to write articles about Social Anxiety and being an introvert, I never once imagined that I’d want it to be my life’s work.

After years of straying away from my younger self and not listening to her, here I am doing the one thing I should have done all along…write.

But it’s so much more than that.

My writing opened the door to website design, content creation, social media management, e-mail marketing, copywriting, SEO strategy, video-making, and so much more.

A world I never would have entered or known about if I stayed in my “career.”

A career that did, in fact, give me a lot of external validation but lacked in giving me the most important aspect of living a good life: internal fulfillment. Now, I schedule my days as I please and work on the content I choose. I’m privileged to have this opportunity, and I certainly don’t take it for granted.

In fact, I’ve never worked harder in my life, even when I was pregnant, working full-time, and going to school. I easily put in 10-hour days, day-in and day-out, because I want to make this work.

I know my purpose and direction in life now, and I’m not going to let it slip away without giving it more than my all.

Several signs tell me that this is what I’m meant to do:

  • I want to start my day ASAP when I wake up, even if it’s at 5 AM.
  • My to-do list keeps growing because the ideas keep flowing.
  • I don’t get out of my chair for hours at a time, and when I do, I come right back.
  • I’m upset when the weekend is here and can’t put any hours in.
  • I don’t care about making big money with this, I have a sustainable income.

Above all else, running out of the shower dripping wet to jot down an idea before it slips away is probably the strongest sign of them all.

But I know why you’re here, and if you’ve made it this far, then you’re all in.

You’re ready to find out how to start living with purpose because it is possible.

It’s not enough to find out though, you have to really be willing to put in the work and believe that it will take you where you want to go.

The universe has your back if it sees that you’re soul-searching.

conquer self-doubts

10 Steps to Living with Purpose

Get your finances in order

One of the main reasons I was able to find my purpose was because I took a break from working. I saved enough money to survive one year off of savings (also, mind you, my partner was still working, so we had income coming in). This is a difficult step depending on your current financial situation.

You might be years away from having the necessary cushion that allows you to stop working, but there are things you can do. If you’re stuck in a job that makes you unhappy, but it pays the bills, I get it. Two things you can do here. One thing is to find a way to supplement your income. Not necessarily getting a second/third job, but explore some online options. The second thing is to save as much as you can. The word “sacrifice” is your best friend here.

The more money you’re able to save, the more comfortable you’ll feel pursuing a passion or giving yourself the time to find it.

Know what you don’t want

Like every relationship teaches you what you want in someone, it also teaches you what you DON’T want. I’ve been in enough shitty relationships to know what you look out for. And I’ve also been in enough shitty jobs to know what I should stay away from. Just because you’re miserable in your situation doesn’t mean you’re not gaining anything from it.

If you’ve tried many roles, gone through many hobbies, and nothing’s sparked something within you, that’s great! You’re crossing off things one by one. This process of elimination can be compelling. Don’t despair if it feels like you’re not learning anything.

Take some time to write down or make a note of the things that make you unhappy about what you’re doing or how you’re living your day-to-day life.

Go back to basics

You’ve probably heard this a lot, but it’s worth repeating. Think back to your childhood or early teenage years. What were you engrossed in? What did you love to do the most? What did your parents have to tear you away from? That’s a HUGE indication of what you should be spending your time on these days.

Maybe you loved to play with makeup, play video games, or take care of pets. For me, it was writing. I have notebooks filled with poems and stories. I had 2-3 blogs during my teenage years. If you have a hard time with this, ask your parents/siblings,/childhood friends.

While it might be hard to jump professions, knowing what you love to do will guide you in the right direction.

Understand your personality type

I struggled a LOT with this one. I stayed in denial for many, many years. Every time I did an online test, or personality quiz, all the answers given seemed impractical. Looking back now, I should have paid closer attention.

For example, careers such as psychologist, therapist, librarian, and writer were always recommended with my personality type. I refused to identify with any of those, but I would have realized that working in an intense corporate environment was not suitable for me if I had given them more thought.

Similarly, understanding what gives you energy and what takes it will point you to the kind of work/lifestyle you should be cultivating.

Experiment on the side

I’m not a risk-taker. I’m very calculated and make my decisions based on many factors, so I didn’t just quit everything to go “searching for myself.” As much as I would have loved to pull an Eat Pray Love, that’s not something I was comfortable with.

Instead, I experimented on the side. I did a Master’s in IT and one in Psychology. I opened a couple of websites. Started a social media business account. I allowed myself the time to try new things, such as public speaking classes.

The amazing thing about living in today’s world is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to get started in ANYTHING. You can literally become your own expert on a topic. You can start building your portfolio RIGHT NOW with all the tools available online for free. There are no gatekeepers (unless, of course, you want to be a doctor or something like that!).

If you don’t have any idea where to start, that’s ok. Go to a website with a variety of courses and scroll through to see what interests you.

Be willing to take risks.

At some point, you’ll have to make the jump to see if something is worthwhile pursuing. Again, I’m not a risk-taker, but I took a chance to alleviate myself from the misery. Now, I’m never looking back. And honestly? I still don’t know what my path forward is, but I’m in a much better place now. I feel more uncertain about my path but happier than when I had a certain miserable path.

Risk doesn’t have to mean that you’re going to throw away all your life’s work. It might mean that you’re risking taking a salary cut to explore a new avenue, moving cities or countries. It might mean redefining what matters to you.

You might take the risk and realize it wasn’t worth it. Make sure you’re able to get back into a similar position for safety purposes.

Keep learning and challenging yourself.

If you’re in a routine where nothing excites you, it’s time for a kick in the butt. Find something to do at least once a month that challenges you. Maybe it’s joining an organization in your community that does work you believe in or attending a live course where you can meet people with a shared interest, whatever it is, do something that challenges you.

If you don’t, you’re not giving yourself the opportunity of finding your purpose. It’s out there in the world, and it’s not going to appear unless you put some effort into it magically. The goal should be to give your brain the ability to make associations.

By doing different activities, you will have an easier time pinpointing what it means to live with purpose.

Declare it to the world

This should be done the moment you have an inkling of what your purpose is. Even if it might change down the line, you have to declare it to the world. It’s a commitment you make to yourself and your life. The commitment that the way you’re currently living is not filling up your cup.

Without the commitment, you might pull away from going after it because you’re scared. The moment you say the words out loud and let others know your intention, the universe has a funny way of reacting to it. Things will begin to align themselves. You’ll see the signs everywhere. You’ll begin to see the new possibilities in front of you.

There’s not a more powerful exercise than that of expressing your intentions out loud.

Get rid of time-sucking activities.

Gosh, if only this were easy! I know how difficult it is to give up on your shows or on catching up with what you’re friends are doing, but you’ll thank yourself later. Did you know that the average person spends 6 years and 8 months of their LIFE on social media?

Imagine what you can accomplish in 6 years! How grossly insane is this number? Don’t be part of this statistic. Start identifying what your time-sucking activities are and start replacing them with wholehearted ones that bring you joy.

This is a worthwhile exercise to go through daily so that you can bring more awareness to yourself. Don’t let time-sucking activities get in the way of living with purpose.

Work on your mindset (limiting beliefs)

This is forever an ongoing project. Being able to identify what your own limiting beliefs are will help you on your journey. It will help open many new doors that you yourself closed. For example, I had a limiting belief that I couldn’t be in front of the camera as an introvert. It took me a while to realize that it was all practice and that ANYONE could be successful in front of the camera.

I also told myself I wasn’t funny. Another trait that can be cultivated and worked on. I’m always on the lookout for other limiting beliefs I have. Once I identify them, I try to find the steps I need to take to break them down. Opening a YouTube channel was how I challenged my limiting belief. Doing short funny reels was how I broke my other limiting belief.

Identify where the bottleneck is in your mind and find a way to create an opening there.

Bonus: Supportive Partner + Luck

Honestly, if my partner hadn’t supported me quitting my job or moving overseas, none of this would have come to pass. I would have gone on with my career path probably because I wouldn’t have felt safe going in a new direction. Your support system matters more than you think.

If you’re strong enough to push back against the negativity, more power to you. You NEED to do that. This might open up some intense discussions in your relationships, even if you’re riding solo. Remember that this is your life, and you’re not meant to live it miserably.

Similarly, luck also plays a big part, but the good news is that you can actually create luck. Read this article and get ready to have your mind blown.

 Living with purpose is something we all have a right to. Don’t let anyone stand in your way, even if that means moving on.

I want to mention that living with purpose doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to do with your work. You might be pleased with your 9-5 situation because it gives you the freedom to do other things, or you’re challenged enough to enjoy it. That’s great!

In that case, the purpose you’re missing is that of doing something that has an impact on the world. You’re going to look for your purpose in different ways. Potentially in helping your community out. Sharing your art with the world. Your purpose now becomes the outlet outside of your work.

The goal is living with purpose.

Whether that means all day, every day, or a few hours every day. What you want to achieve is that sense of alignment and fulfillment so that you know you’re working towards something. That you’re making the impact, you want to make.

That’s what it all comes down to at the end of the day.