Somewhere along the line, “finding your bliss” became synonymous with “you should know what you love immediately and be able to make a ton of money doing it without much effort.” Bliss became a term for “thing you are wildly successful at without any work.” You would know you had “found your bliss” when something perfect happened to you that required no effort. And you were somehow supposed to know exactly how to make it happen, without actually doing anything.
This, my friends, is not a thing.
It’s precisely why so many people make themselves crazy trying to “follow their bliss.” They’re scared that the amount of work they’re putting into something means it’s not “their purpose.” If it were truly “their purpose,” it would have worked out by now. So they assume what they’re doing is wrong, or they’re on the wrong path. And because of this anxiety that they’re “doing it wrong,” they stop.
Myth #1: Your right life requires no effort.
Truth: Everything requires effort. Whether it’s pursuing something you really love, or trying to convince yourself that the life you currently have isn’t actually that bad, all of these things require effort and energy. People assume you won’t need to work hard when you love your life, or that if you’re not happy it’s because you’re not trying hard. Both of these things are false. Waking up everyday and living your life requires effort. The real decision is whether you want to expend that effort maintaining your current life, or redirect it toward something new and unproven.
Myth #2: If it’s really your purpose, it will fall into your lap.
Truth: Maybe this happens for some people, and bless them. For the rest of us, finding our purpose requires some guesswork, some trial and error. Think about how many careers have been invented over the last ten years. Do you think someone knew their purpose was to be an social media manager? Or app developer? These things were *just* invented. Were people in these industries stressed until Instagram Stories came around? Or were they testing out other things until they landed on something they liked?
Also, even if you know that your purpose is to be a writer or a therapist, there are still other questions. What kind of writing? Will you be a journalist? Or write children’s books? Maybe manuals of new technologies? Same with therapist. Psychiatrist? Children and families? Schizophrenia only? All things that still need to be tested.
And, if you think your purpose would really tell you: children’s books in the dining room with a candlestick, do yourself a favor and don’t. Because let’s say your purpose is undisputedly children’s books. You were born knowing that was your thing and you spend 20 years writing beautiful, award-winning children’s books. And then you get kind of bored because you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again for the last 20 years. Does that mean you can’t do something else because children’s books was your purpose? Or that you can’t abandon it altogether because you know that so many other people struggle to find their own purpose?
Maybe you can just try something else, because that’s what intelligent people do. They master something or get tired of it (or both, in that order) and then they pick up something new.
So maybe that’s what “your purpose” really is: it’s the thing you don’t mind doing for the time being. Until you get bored or you master it and want to try something new.
Myth #3: When I figure out my purpose, I won’t have to work as hard.
Oh, how I wish this one were true. Spoiler alert: It’s not. Sorry.
Once you finally find your purpose, the next set of obstacles will appear. Some people call this upleveling, some people call it life. Whatever your name for it, it definitely happens. There will be new challenges and heartbreak and fears to navigate and things to learn. The trick about choosing a purpose is that it makes all that stuff slightly easier to tolerate. It makes your efforts, all the time and energy you spend, more worthwhile, more satisfying. It won’t be the same challenges over and over again, the ones you’re used to and might be frustrated with, the devil you know. There will be new challenges. And thank goodness for that. You are smart and curious and capable of a lot. These are the opportunities to see what you can do. Take risks and then look back on them and be impressed by what you just did. Make yourself proud. The only benefit to having a purpose here is that it might help focus your efforts.
When it comes to finding your bliss, the effort part is nonnegotiable. It is 100% here to stay. We can put effort into tolerating our lives, or effort into inching the needle towards something we think we might want, but the effort is a sure thing and it will always be there. The slightest effort in the direction we want can result in something that feels far beyond the what we expected Which might feel kind of magical–that something big could come from something seemingly so small. But that absolutely doesn’t mean it happened out of nowhere.
So where do you want to put your effort today? Is it toward a new job? Is it toward applying to school? Is it toward a path you are not totally sure of but one that feels better than where you are right now?
If the work part is nonnegotiable and the choice is between working toward something you might want and working toward something you already know that you don’t want, which will you choose? If everything requires effort, even the things that are supposed to be blissful and easy and our soul’s purpose, where will you choose to direct your efforts today?
Read more of Sara’s posts here.
SARA KRAVITZ helps people who don’t know what they want but know it’s not this figure out if they should quit their jobs so they can stop dreading Sunday nights. She is a career coach, author, and speaker who helps helps people understand (but, like, really understand) that this doesn’t have to be life. You can climb out of every hole. It might be awkward and uncomfortable at times (in fact, you can probably guarantee it will be), but there’s always a solution. (Even for you.)
You can download her international, bestselling book, Just Tell Me What I Want, for free here