Have you ever sat staring blankly at the screen, daydreaming you were somewhere else, doing something else? Or despite bringing your A-game to work every day, realized that nothing you did REALLY mattered to anyone?
Have you ever felt like a “black sheep” who has never quite fit in with others around you?
Have you ever watched someone with your “dream job” on a reality show, and thought: “I could totally see myself doing that”, or seen a pitch on Shark Tank and thought they pulled that same idea out from your head?
I HAVE… and I felt all of those things while working at a job that I actually liked.
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My career path started with a hard-fought battle to become an accountant, but I had no aspirations of becoming a partner at my firm. Eventually, I got tired of living out of the office, taking showers at the gym, and long busy seasons sucked the life out of me.
I jumped at the chance to see what else was out there, and ended up as a manager at one of the largest banks in Canada. I had a young, ambitious boss who I respected, and loved working for.
Although I felt satisfied at a prestigious corporate job on Bay Street, I couldn’t help but shake a nagging feeling that I was meant for something else… outside of excel spreadsheets and project deadlines.
It started out as an inkling of a question, and kept gnawing at me until I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
Why am I Still Not Happy?
If you’ve never pondered the answer to that question, then you’re one of the lucky few who has found the holy grail: a happy, fulfilling job that you don’t dread getting out of bed for. You can stop reading, because I’m not talking to you.
For the rest of us, there’s Keanu Reeves, and his life-changing performance in the iconic movie “The Matrix“:
Morpheus: Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.
The Matrix (1999)
The Wool Over Your Eyes
Somewhere along the path into adulthood, all the forces in your life may have told you stuff like this:
- You can only build a respectable career doing something that is safe and responsible.
- You have to find a job related to your field of study, or else your whole education will have gone to sh*t.
- Success = high pay, job security, good benefits, and saving towards retirement.
- You can’t afford to take any financial risks after having kids.
- You worked so hard for everything you’ve achieved – it’d be stupid to risk it all for a pipe dream.
To be clear, I’m NOT saying none of those things are true. Everyone has their own aspirations – I’m not here to judge which are right or wrong.
What I’m saying is this: sometimes, in the pursuit of those things, we end up crafting our own Matrix that shields us from the truth.
That something is missing.
Maybe you’ve had this thought pop up from time to time, but over the years you’ve just learned to suppress it.
Why are you still not happy? Why do you still want more?
My Moment of Truth
I can pinpoint the exact moment when I, like Neo, realized “there is no spoon”.
I was crying myself to sleep for the umpteenth time. It was becoming a regular occurrence.
I was frustrated about impossible work deadlines, angry about something a client said to me that week, and generally self-loathing about not feeling smart enough.
My husband turned over and said to me: “You’re not the same person you used to be.”
And that was it. Something snapped.
I wanted to scream at him for not saying something more positive and uplifting, but in that moment, I just realized the truth:
Nobody was pointing a gun to my head, forcing me to stay at that job, endure stress, or participate in petty office politics.I own my life. What I do doesn’t define me.
If this doesn’t make me happy, I’ll find something else that will.
The truth slapped me so hard, I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
So, I chose to “take the red pill” and find out just how deep that rabbit hole went.
Tearing Down the Matrix
In order to define happiness and success for yourself, you have to tear down your own Matrix of limiting beliefs.
For me, it took hours of soul-searching, and painful self-discovery.
I read alot of books, including You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero, which teaches you how to tear down the limiting beliefs you grew up with from childhood, and reinvent your own life values.
I realized that for years, I’d been holding on to so many limiting mindsets about success, money, relationships, and family values that were holding me back from figuring out what I REALLY wanted to do with my life. Everything in my pursuit of an “ideal life” up until that point was driven by other people’s opinions, and I was barely doing any thinking for myself. I have been in robot-mode all my life, and it was finally time to wake the hell up.
With my newfound awareness, one important question I found myself asking was this:
If you could do anything in life without considering how much you’d get paid for it, what would it be?
My Inner Child Had the Answers
I took a deep dive into my childhood for answers, because frankly, “adulting” was cramping my style.
Like Spoon Boy in The Matrix, children just have this uncanny ability to see life for what it is, without complicating everything with adult-like thoughts.
While journaling, I made a list of “work” I used to do for fun as a kid — these were things I genuinely enjoyed because they weren’t required for school, and nobody paid me to do it.
Things My Inner Child Considered to be GENUINELY FUN:
► I had an unhealthy obsession with the Backstreet Boys (KTBSPA!). Back in the day, when the price of internet was based on the amount of time spent connected to AOL, I racked up over $200 on one month making my own BSB fan website on Geocities. I even launched my own webring devoted to A.J. McLean (I still ❤ you, black nails and all). My parents weren’t happy about that bill.
► Sailormoon was one of my favorite cartoon characters of all time. In grade school, I sketched Sailormoon pictures for other kids in exchange for trading cards. I later learned that I could achieve economies of scale by tracing multiple copies of my good drawings rather than drawing each of them individually. I built up a large card collection while gaining popularity as an “artist”.
► When my cousins came over, we spent hours drawing and writing pretend stories for our own “newspaper”. I remember drawing comics about my grandma in funny situations that would make us crack up until our stomachs hurt.
► I loved to flip through my mom’s magazines and look at ads. I would clip them out and make collages, amazed at how a simple product could look so appealing when styled just the right way in photos. I amassed a particularly large collection of “Got Milk?” ads.
Coincidentally, while doing those things, I unknowingly taught myself REAL SKILLS that are very relevant in today’s world: Web coding, graphic design, managing online communities, writing, styling and photography.
Well, I’ll be darned.
Why Passion Matters
The moment you discover your passion is epic and life-changing — much like the climax of the movie when Neo finally believes that he is The One. After he realized that the power was within him all along, he overcame physical limitations and started to KICK ASS in ways nobody else could.
Diana Raab, an author, speaker, and blogger, defines passion as an inclination or desire to do something one likes to do or thinks is important to do.
In other words, your passion gives you meaning. It’s the mental fuel in your brain tank that will keep you hustling on those days when life throws you multiple punches. We all have those days.
Find Passion in Everyday Things
By understanding your passion, you will see the world differently, and find ways to align your life with the things that make you happy.
It doesn’t have to be complicated — Start with identifying things that you’re already doing (or genuinely enjoy doing) in your everyday life, at your job, or at home.
You might discover that you have a passion for connecting with people, or interpreting something complex, and explaining it in a simple way. Perhaps you have a knack for keeping organized and developing systems and processes. Or, you could be visually gifted with an eye for photography, or design, or presentations.
Find ways to inject broader passions into the interactions of your everyday life: your job, your dealings with customers, even your loved ones, and I promise you will be happier.
In the end, I figured out that a big part of my passion was being able to create something visual, and sharing whose creations with people to elicit a desire or emotional response.
That discovery is what led me to launch a business. Buy the way, it had nothing to do with accounting.
That also happens to be one of the reasons I started blogging.The ability to define your own life has been there all along. You just have to give yourself permission to do so.Click To Tweet
Have there ever been any big defining moments in your life?
What did you discover about yourself in the process of finding your passion?
Here’s to taking one step closer to happiness,
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