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The Struggle Of Not Knowing Your Purpose

I’ve been feeling lost for the past year. Ever since reading The Success Principles, I haven’t been able to stop thinking that I have a purpose. Yes, it sounds cheesy and lame and something I used to make fun of, but I do believe we all have something to contribute to the world that makes us feel 100% alive.

The trouble is, I have no idea what mine may be.

And it doesn’t help that I can’t seem to get away from articles about finding your purpose, following your passion, or quitting your 9-5 job to do what you’ve always dreamed of. I tell people I’m not particularly satisfied with my job right now, and they ask, ‘What’s your dream job?’

What if I don’t know? What if I’m driving myself crazy trying to figure it out?

They tell you that deep down you know what you’re supposed to do. They say find your passion and that will lead you to your purpose. What if I’m passionate about so many different things that I can’t figure out how to tie them together into a cohesive ‘purpose’ or a career path?

From the moment you start college, you’re continually asked what your major is and what you want to do with that major. I always felt pressured to come up with a solid answer for fear of sounding indecisive or lacking drive. But I was just a Sociology major who liked writing and learning about everything, and I didn’t really have a plan.

And once you graduate and find yourself in your first ‘real world’ job, it doesn’t get much easier. Somehow we’ve been tricked into believing we’re supposed to have it all figured out in our 20s, especially when you hear about those 23-year old CEOs who are making millions and ready to retire in a year. They may have known their whole life what they wanted to do and they stuck to it.

But it’s okay to not have everything figured out.

Through all of this searching and comparing myself to others, I’ve somehow come to terms with the fact that it’s normal to feel lost. It doesn’t make you any less of a person for not knowing what to do, and you shouldn’t feel pressured because anyone else seems to have it figured out.

Though I can’t help you find your purpose, I can share a few reminders that help to ease my restless mind when I’m struggling:

1. Your curiosity is an asset.

Having the drive and the desire to improve yourself is irreplaceable. Many people do not have the drive to seek out their purpose. Stay curious, but do not let that curiosity consume you.

2. Your passions, interests, and skills will change.

When we are young, we have the opportunity to try anything we want and learn everything we can without being too committal. Take full advantage of this privilege.

3. Focus on the now.

Keep the future in your peripheral vision, but try as hard as possible to stay present and learn from the current moment. Each day, you could make a note of what excites you, what frustrates you, and what challenges you, and eventually you may just start to see a pattern that makes you feel a little less lost.

Is anyone else struggling with the whole purpose thing?

Photo: Vera Yumira

About the Author
Picture of Catherine Beard
Hi, I'm Catherine! As the creator of The Blissful Mind, I love exploring ways to make life more fulfilling, especially when it comes to our daily routines, habits, and well-being.

26 Responses

  1. I’m a sociology major too and am still trying to find out what I want to do in life. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one feeling totally lost right now. Thank you for your honesty, this post was just what I needed. :)

    1. Yay sociology! I think it’s one of the majors people ask the most about what you’re going to do with that degree haha. People don’t understand how important it is. But glad I could help out, Sam!

  2. I’d been struggling with that question for a while and then read this quote, “Researchers have shown it takes about ten years to develop expertise in
    any of a wide variety of areas, including chess playing, music
    composition, telegraph operation, painting, piano playing, swimming,
    tennis, and research in neuropsychology and topology. The key is
    deliberative practice: not just doing it again and again, but
    challenging yourself with a task that is just beyond your current
    ability, trying it, analyzing your performance while and after doing it,
    and correcting any mistakes. Then repeat. And repeat again. There
    appear to be no real shortcuts.”
    – Peter Norvig

    It might be a little discouraging but I’d add that you have to be patient to find passion as well. My problem, like you, is being interested and dabbling in a lot of stuff. I felt pretty behind reading this researcher say that it would take a decade, but at least now I know that if I keep working I’ll finally find it.

    1. Thanks for sharing the quote, Sophie! I like the part about analyzing your performance, I think it’s really important to reflect on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. But wow, 10 years is a long time haha. But there’s no time like the present to start trying.

  3. i think it’s great to not know what’s ahead, and to be curious about everything ! keep going x

  4. I wish I could put the praise hands emoji into this comment! YES to everything you just said Catherine. I left college with a degree I wasn’t fully committed to, in fact I struggled with the idea of claiming my title with that attached to it. My purpose (and path, for that matter) was totally unclear. I love that you mentioned curiosity as an asset!

    1. HAHA that made me laugh out loud. Praise hands emoji! I’d do the crying of laughter emoji if I could. I suppose part of me is glad I didn’t leave college completely committed to a degree because that might mean I’d be stuck doing the same thing forever!

  5. I feel the exact same way! I’ve been struggling with finding my purpose in life and my passion for a while too. Like you, I love so many things and it’s hard to choose just one. But I know that’s okay and that not everyone has their life figured out. It’s part of growing up and discovering yourself, I guess. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and a few tips, specially the last one, I see it as a little reminder because sometimes I worry so much about my future that I forget about enjoying the now. x

    1. It’s so hard when literally everything interests you! I have such a hard time focusing on one thing for too long haha. Like you said, not everyone has their life figured out. Luckily we can all be confused together ;) xx

  6. Oh yes, I understand soooooo much. I felt this way for much of my twenties (especially when it comes to career.)

    But by the time I hit 30, I realised that the whole idea of a ‘career’ just doesn’t work for me. I realised that I need to be always learning new things to be happy and that I value my freedom too much to be tied down. I took a few years to get my life in order and then a few months ago quit my FT job. It was scary because it was a good opportunity for my career – especially because I never finished my degree (which these days seems to be shocking.)

    But anyway, these days I work as a professional temp, which means I have a lot of freedom and get to do new things all the time, and I LOVE it! It shocks so many people, but I’m so happy it doesn’t matter ;)

    1. This makes so much sense to me! I feel like I am such a quick learner that things become boring as soon as I’ve mastered them, and then I just want to move on to learning something new. I’m constantly wondering what kind of job I can pursue that allows me to constantly be learning new things…maybe I should take some tips from you ;)

  7. This has been an issue of mine for years. I have grown so much though just getting to know myself. I got to my 3rd year as an English major and decided to quit because I had no idea what on earth I was going to do. I did meet my husband and then I got my Cosmetology License and had my son.. Still trying to figure out what my gift is and how to offer it though. I think I’m focusing too much on the outside and things around me and forgetting what it is I want to do… very excellent post though I feel the exact same.

  8. I feel the same! It’s like society pushes us to settle down, to go to college, to get a job, to retire and THEN live, THEN learn and well… I’ve been wondering about purposes, and I often wonder what is mine… But for now, I think we can just enjoy life, along with things and people we love. Take the time to discover who we are… right?

  9. What a great article. I think we need to talk more about this and make it ok to not having everything figured out. I feel the same way and I always used to blame the fact that I grew up not really being exposed to a lot of different activities. My parents only emphasized school and I had very little extra curicular activities where I got to try different areas/hobbies. In my mid 20s I finally went on a “hobby” binge. Lol. My husband would endearingly make fum of me. He’s the type that knew his life plant at 21! But trying different things brought me one step closer to discovering myself. I don’t think the journey ever ends and I’ve learned to quite enjoy it.

    1. I so agree! I was having this discussion with my friend about how we need to let others know we don’t have it all figured out. We all try to pretend that we do, but then we just isolate ourselves. It’s always so crazy to me when people know what they want to do since the age of like 6 haha. Sometimes I think that would make it a lot easier!

  10. Catherine this post so resonates with me! I’m struggling as well…Some days I think I know and then the next it’s like is that really it?

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