If you’re like most people, you want to find your own unique and authentic path in life. A path that connects who you are with what matters most to you.
But how do you go about finding that path? Particularly in a world that is indifferent to your needs, a world that prefers that you conform and fit in, rather than being YOU.
In order to assist people along their journey to finding their own unique and authentic path in life, I decided to ask for input from a variety of experts in self-development, career choice, and life purpose.
Here is the exact question that I sent them:
“What is your best advice for someone who is searching for their own unique and authentic path in life, one that connects who they are with what matters most to them”?
I was fortunate to receive responses from 21 amazing experts!
I hope you’ll take the time to read through each of their responses. There’s a LOT of wisdom, both in the individual responses as well as in the collective wisdom of all of the experts.
Without further ado…
I tried a lot of different careers and fields before finding my purpose. I can tell you without a doubt that criminal defense or divorce law were not my cup of tea but I would have never known that until I tried it.
I have two pieces of advice for people who are seeking their life purpose. One, keep experimenting and trying out new things on your way to your purpose. As you take action towards your purpose, the path to your purpose will appear. Knowing what doesn’t fit and what’s not meant for you is as useful as finding out what your life purpose is. Eliminate all those paths that don’t fit as you hone in on your purpose.
Also, check in with yourself regularly. You very likely know what it is you were put here to do. You will continue to hear that voice – instead of ignoring that inner voice of wisdom, which may come in the form of feelings or small nudges, allow it to guide you to your purpose.
Bastiaan Blikman of Want2Discover
My best advice for someone would be to stay true to yourself and never sacrifice who you are. Very often we compare our lives to the lives of others but the truth is that this will not make us happy.
Try to keep the focus on yourself and look deep down inside and discover what your true passions and values are. If you start following your passions and start living according to your values then you will find your unique path in life.
Bastiaan Blikman is a writer and co-founder of Want2Discover. Visit his website for more great articles on self-improvement and how to live a fulfilling, meaningful and happy life. Be sure to download a copy of his Free Ebook: 52 Simple Steps Towards Happiness and Success.
Louise Watson of Louise Watson
There are two things that I would say. Firstly, I would say get clear about what experience you want to have then forget about what form you think it should take. For example, if you want a lot of money, most probably you want to experience the freedom you think it will give you. So instead focus on freedom rather than making money.
Then I would say to get out of your own way, by which I mean make it a priority to quieten your mind in order to see the way forward more clearly.
Louise Watson’s first book, Stop Making Your Life a Misery, offers advice to those who feel trapped in a cycle of negativity. You can read more of her words of wisdom at Louise Watson. When she’s not scribbling away, she can probably be found doing yoga or trying to play the piano.
Erin Falconer of Pick The Brain
Who am I? What Do I really Want? Are my actions reflective of the answers to the first two questions?
I think one of the biggest mistakes people make in life is acting as they ‘should’ – as opposed to who they are. As a result you start setting goals and trying to accomplish things that become farther and farther away from where you want and need to be. You are going through the motions of life as an inauthentic version of yourself.
Why do people do this? Because it’s easier to be subjectively judged by others than objectively by yourself. One of the hardest things to do is find out who you really are. What you really want. The answers will scare you because they don’t fit a cookie cutter existence. But like all really difficult things in life, the payoff is huge.
In order for one to follow an authentic path in life, you must be willing to do the work and then take action. Often this will take you on a path much different that what you ‘should’ – and this will be scary, too – but the clarity and fulfillment will be worth it every time.
Erin is a Canadian living in Los Angeles. She has had a varied career that includes being a screenplay writer, stand-up comedian, political consultant and is now proudly, heavily invested in the online blogging world. Since 2008, she has been the editor in chief and co-owner of PickTheBrain – one of the fastest growing and most trusted self improvement websites & communities on the web.
Michelle Ward of When I Grow Up Coach
Baby steps build the strongest foundation. As adults, we usually can never find the time for ourselves – we have to make it and commit to it. But we can’t wait for big blocks of time to be available for us – that rarely happens, either. Instead, we need to start small. The good news is that 15 minutes/day leads to almost 8 hours/month, and that’s not chump change! So start by blocking out those 15 minutes, and experiment with finding a time you can make a habit out of. Can you do it right when you wake up, and set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier? Is it more likely to happen right when you put the kids to bed, or during your lunch break at work? See what feels best for your energy level and try to repeat it daily-ish.
Then, braindump all the things in your head that you liked to do when you were younger (no censoring, please!) and the things you used to do that you miss (i.e. gardening, photography, yoga). Then add things you’ve been wanting to try that you’ve been denying yourself because they’re not “productive” (i.e. blogging, learning to play the ukulele, starting an art journal).
Then, pick the thing on the list that feels the most fun and easiest for that day, and give yourself permission to stick with the same thing for a while or change it up depending on how you feel day-to-day or week-to-week. Just only do enough that can fit into that 15 minute block – start small – and then you might be able to bump up that amount of time as you keep making this a habit.
The simplified idea of the dream career work I do with my clients boils down to this: Waking up in the morning, thinking of your day ahead, and knowing you’ll enjoy the vast majority of it. That’s not something that happens overnight, though, so trust the 15 minutes each day will build up to being trusting and confident of bringing more joy into your life!”
Michelle Ward, PCC, has been offering dream career guidance for creative women as the When I Grow Up Coach since 2008. You may have seen or heard her in New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, Etsy, Newsweek, Freelancers Union, the Forbes Top 100 Websites for your Career List or 100+ other media outlets. She’s the co-author of The Declaration of You, which was published by North Light Books, and the teacher of Create Your Dream Career and Ditch Your Day Job, which were watched by tens of thousands of people live on CreativeLive. Discover and achieve your dream career at When I Grow Up Coach.
Dani DiPirro of Positively Present
If you’re searching for your authentic path in life, my advice is this: pay attention to the times when you lose track of time. There will be situations when you completely forget what time it is, where you’re so involved in what you’re doing or who you’re with that you aren’t worried about anything else and you aren’t thinking about what’s on your to-do list. These are the moments that will lead you to learning more about what you love and what brings out the most authentic parts of you.
Pay close attention in these moments to what you’re doing, who you’re with, where you are, and even what time of day or year it is. These will be clues that will show you what makes you feel most alive and excited, and these clues will lead you down your unique path.
Dani DiPirro is an author, blogger, and designed living in a suburb of Washington, DC. In 2009, she launched the website Positively Present with the intention of sharing her insights about living a positive and present life. Dani is the author of Stay Positive, The Positively Present Guide to Life, and a variety of e-books. She is also the founder of Twenty3, a design studio focused on promoting positive, modern graphic design and illustration.
Joe Wilner of Shake Off The Grind
There are four areas to consider to find our unique path. One area is your personal assets. What are your strengths? What are your values. What do you like best about yourself? Make a list of these assets and put them to use.
Next, let joy lead. Do what excites and thrills you. Find ways to connect your passions with your talents and strengths.
Thirdly I recommend “going with growth.” In other words, you’re meant to be challenged. Just because something is challenging doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path. You should be expanding and growing on your journey.
Lastly, focus on service. Where can you make an impact and difference? What contribution do you want to make? These fours areas will help you find your path in life.”
Joe Wilner is a life coach, clinically licensed psychotherapist, and drummer with the band Yes You Are. He is also creator of Shake Off The Grind, where he helps people live with greater inner-strength, confidence, and well-being. This includes overcoming life’s trial and tribulations and unveiling a thriving life filled with purpose, meaning, presence, and happiness.
Thea Westra of Forward Steps
Check out your daily habits. Routine can become very comfortable, avoiding any need to define and challenge your comfort zone. Although it may feel safe, allowing yourself to remain stuck in a dull routine of existence can bring you to a very low energy point and will strip the joy from your experience of life. Soul was never designed to support a life of monotony and routine. Connection with soul is your access to your sense of aliveness. It needs to be set free, allow it to jump out of your skin sometimes! That twinge of aliveness that comes from even minor adjustments in routine, THAT is your soul’s response to being released from its cage, even if only for a few moments. The more often you release it, the more often you begin to recognize the path that your soul would want you to travel.
Stop going after what does not light you up. Regular free time offers you an opportunity to explore and embrace more of what you love to do. Be sure to schedule time for play, and wander where your heart wants to take you. When we engage more often in the activities that we really enjoy, those which make us come alive, we fill our “well”. When you spend hours in a row, seemingly lost in time and completely engrossed in an activity that you love, you can be certain that you’re connected to soul. Discovering what you truly love to do is sometimes straightforward, yet it isn’t always. Embark on a journey of self-discovery, and try many new things. You may need to dedicate time and patience. It’s all about tuning in to the signals from soul and noticing when passion is present or when an activity has an almost cathartic element to it.
Often ask yourself penetrating questions. When answering those kinds of questions, Never mind your well thought-out answers. How does your heart respond? Did you notice? What was your first thought? That first response, before you spend a lot of time analyzing or internally debating, THAT is the voice you want to hear. When we ask ourselves those prickly kind of questions, we are making contact with the heart. Powerful, penetrating questions can sometimes need a lifetime, and there is no guarantee they will even receive closure. As eyes are the window to our soul, questions are the key to our soul.
Lastly, know that you are already born unique. No one else has your DNA! Connect with that sense of yourself, daily. Spend time to clear away all those other voices that might confuse you. Meditation is a terrific way to support spending more time with yourself.
Thea Westra is author of Time For My Life: 365 Stepping Stones and the creator of Forward Steps, for adding wings to our unique life journey. By sharing positive, thought-provoking content, my aim is to help people like you discover and move toward, what you really want.
Henri Juntilla of Wake Up Cloud
Follow the breadcrumbs. Meaning, learn to listen to what resonates with you. Notice what life brings you, and how you respond to it. Learn to differentiate between surface pleasure, and that deeper nudge from within. And above all, have fun on your journey. No perfection needed.
Harleena Singh of Aha-Now
This may sound like a very typical reply, but all the answers to our questions lie within us. The key to finding your life purpose is first to know and understand yourself. You should analyze your interests and liking – find out what makes you feel good and happy.
Your authentic path in life is the one that is meaningful to you and gives you internal happiness. Something that makes you feel content and happy being on it. Your search may not give you instant results as the process can take time – sometimes even years, and you may change directions and come across many paths in life. However, if you are tuned to yourself, you’ll know when you reach your final destination – your own unique and authentic path in life.
Harleena Singh is a positive thinker and a freelance writer. She loves to write inspiring and thought-provoking posts on selef-improvement, family, relationships, health, and other aspects of life. She’s also a blogger, who loves to share her blogging knowledge and experiences on her personal blog, Harleena Singh.
George Kao of George Kao
Define concisely what success means to you. Define what success is NOT. Define your daily practices to come back to your success, e.g.
- Pray or meditate throughout the day as needed.
- Regular reading of spiritual things to remind yourself of true success.
- Listen to spiritual music that you enjoy.
- Being around others who share higher values.
- Sharing content to remind others (and yourself) of higher values.
- Celebrate every time, multiple times a day, that you catch yourself on the road to your true success!
George Kao has been a trusted conscious marketing advisor to thousands of coaches, counselors, consultants. His mission is to dramatically raise the marketing effectiveness of people who value integrity, service and sustainability. George made the radically generous decision several years ago to give away all of his content for free — more than 150 videos and articles, with his best knowledge about authentic marketing. He makes a living solely through 1-1 coaching, and in the past few years, has conducted over 1,000 business coaching sessions with his individual clients. For many wisdom-based solopreneurs, George Kao is the go-to expert for heart-based marketing.
Mary O’Donohue of The Heartfelt Life
When choosing our own individual paths, we often focus on nouns. Teacher. Farmer. Artist. Firefighter. Doctor. Chef. We choose a noun and off we go on our journeys, but sometimes we forget the most important things – the adjectives. Compassionate. Honest. Joyful. Committed. Grateful. Brave.
Because if you’re a doctor, and you are a compassionate one, you will ease suffering you can’t even see. If you are a teacher, and you’re committed to your students, the impact you have will go on for years. If you’re an artist, and you are brave and honest with what you create, you’ll inspire more people than you can imagine.
You’ll make an impact because of who you are, which goes far beyond what you do. There is even a Greek word, “meraki” that refers to leaving a piece of yourself – your heart, your spirit, your passion – in your work. The beautiful thing about living with “meraki” is that you don’t have to wait until you know exactly what path is right for you. Just begin. Infuse your most true self into what you are doing right now, and whatever career path you ultimately choose will be paved with joy and fulfillment.
Mary O’Donohue is a best selling author, and former Oprah Post Producer whose mission is to add more meaning to midlife. She’s the founder and curator of The Heartfelt Life where midlife crisis meets the road less traveled. But those are just nouns – go here to see the adjectives Mary embraces, and follow her on Twitter @Mary_ODonohue.
Stephen Guise of Deep Existence
I’m going to present a bit of a counter-intuitive approach. I believe the best way to find your ideal path in life is to succeed in something. Many people believe passion precedes and leads to success, but in reality, success frequently leads to passion. Have you ever known someone to be passionate about something they’ve only failed in? It’s practically unheard of because passion dies without success.
Before I became passionate about writing and became an international bestselling author, I had experienced small doses of success with my writing. If I had never experienced any form of positive feedback, whether from tangible improvement, positive comments from friends and readers, or other metrics, my passion for writing would have surely died or never developed in the first place. We all want to contribute something meaningful. When we experience success in an area, it’s like the world tells us, “that was good, why don’t you do more of that?” Experiment in areas you care about, invest time and effort in developing your skills, and let micro-successes fuel your desire to continue.
Derek Sivers of Derek Sivers
Many times I’ve been asked, “But what if I haven’t found my true passion?”
It’s dangerous to think in terms of “passion” and “purpose” because they sound like such huge overwhelming things.
If you think love needs to look like “Romeo and Juliet”, you’ll overlook a great relationship that grows slowly.
If you think you haven’t found your passion yet, you’re probably expecting it to be overwhelming.
Instead, just notice what excites you and what scares you on a small moment-to-moment level.
If you find yourself diving into a book about Photoshop and playing around with the program for hours, go for it! Dive in deeper. Maybe that’s your new calling.
If you keep thinking about something like putting on a huge conference or being a Hollywood screenwriter and you find the idea terrifies but intrigues you, it’s probably a worthy endeavor for you.
You grow by doing what excites you and what scares you.
Originally a professional musician and circus clown, Derek Sivers created CD Baby in 1998. It became the largest seller of independent music online, with $100M in sales for 150,000 musicians. In 2008, Derek sold CD Baby for $22M, giving the proceeds to a charitable trust for music education. He is a frequent speaker at the TED Conference, with over 5 million views of his talks. Since 2011 he has published 34 books, including “Anything You Want” which shot to #1 on all of its Amazon categories.
Hueina Su of Hueina Su
There are so many ways to finding your authentic path in life. Some people focus on their talents and abilities. Others pursue what they are passionate about. Sometimes people would say that they are so passionate about something that they would do it even if they don’t get paid. Some people focus on serving others, while others focus on expressing their unique creativity, or providing for their family. It depends on what matters most to you.
If there is a deep desire or dream that simply wouldn’t go away, that is a big clue that it has something to do with your life purpose. These are all valid ways that can lead you to a meaningful and fulfilling path in life. However, I believe, in order to find your unique and authentic path, you also need to consider the overarching themes in your life.
Take a close look at your journey, the choices you have made, the trials and triumphs in your career, relationships, health, family life, etc. and the natural evolution of your own identity in the process. Who were you? Who are you now? Who are you becoming? What life lessons have you learned? What are the core values you hold dear? Are there any repeating patterns or themes?
Then ask yourself: If your life’s journey is training you for your unique purpose and mission in this lifetime, what kind of work or mission are you uniquely qualified for? Who are the people you feel called to serve? When you tune in and receive your answers, then you can decide how to bring this into form in the real world.
Keep in mind that it may or may not turn into your full-time career. I think that’s where many people get tripped up and frustrated, thinking they must fulfill their life purpose through their profession. I believe you can live a very fulfilling and purposeful life by devoting your time, energy and talents to a worthy cause or organization you serve outside of your formal profession. Be open-minded and you will find the common thread and the clues to your unique path in life.
Hueina Su is an internationally recognized expert in helping successful but exhausted high-achieving women awaken from The Good Girl Spell, and create a self-loving, authentic and fulfilling life. She is an international keynote speaker, certified professional coach, best-selling author of Intensive Care for the Nurturer’s Soul: 7 Keys to Nurture Yourself While Caring for Others, and co-author of Breaking Free: Overcoming Self-Sabotage. Visit Hueina Su for her FREE Intensive Self-Care Kit.
Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brain Buddha
When I think about questions of purpose – about living a meaningful, authentic life – I am always drawn to the words of Parker Palmer. Palmer encourages us to discover our vocation, which is derived from the Latin word for voice. It is a calling, not a goal or destination. And we can only hear our calling when we make space for silence. Palmer eloquently writes in his slim but powerful book Let Your Life Speak, “Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you.”
As you sit in silence, listen to your true desires. What lights you up inside? What would you do if you could do anything in the world? What matters most to you? What are the important events in your life that have led you to this place of searching? I firmly believe nothing happens by accident, and that if we listen carefully, we will discover how our path will lead us to, as Frederick Buechner describes it, the sacred space “where [our] deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Sarah Rudell Beach is a teacher, writer, and mother to two little ones. She is the creator of Left Brain Buddha, where she explores ideas and practices for mindfulness, and shares the challenges and riches in her journey to live and parent mindfully in a left-brain, analytical life. She is also the Executive Director of Brilliant Mindfulness, LLC.
Greg Faxon of Greg Faxon
Action first. Preferably scary action. People who are searching for their “one true path” often wait for clarity. But clarity comes from action. This is why you feel stuck.
If you want the best chance of doing something that connects who you are with what matters to you, create and serve in ways that excite you. Then, once you have data to work with, take notice of which things get you paid, light you up, and help other people. Ask yourself: Is it possible that I’m overthinking this? Then choose one small thing and go.
Greg Faxon is a business coach and catalyst for high-performing entrepreneurs. He helps clients all over the world get paid to do work they love by starting and growing impactful businesses that unleash their full potential. He also writes articles every Thursday on his popular blog about how to build a business the brave way. You can learn more about Greg and subscribe to his weekly newsletter at Greg Faxon.
Simona Rich of Simona Rich
My advice is to stop searching outside, because everything is within. Every person has a very specific role in this world, but to know it you must disregard the noise of the world, and tune into the reality within. Easier said than done, but if you commit to this, you’ll eventually discover your purpose on this Earth.
Simona Rich is a spirituality blogger sometimes referred to as a modern mystic. She lives in South India, and is originally from Lithuania. She leads a celibate life of contemplation and meditation, rarely actively engaging with the world but being an observer of it. This allows her to objectively view the world, and from this objective observation life’s lessons become obvious which she shares with readers in her blog posts and books.
Keith Clarke of Life Coach X
I would advise you to forget everything you learned in school. Everything your friends are doing. Everything your parents taught you.
Then find someone to help you get clarity: a coach, a mentor, or an older and wiser person that has stopped searching and is happy with their lot. Because no matter how smart you are, you can’t do this alone. Not well anyway (we have too many blind spots). With this person identify your core values and belief systems.
Get a clinically strong hold on who you are and what makes you tick, what really matters to you. When you know that, you won’t have to look for path: it will emerge, and it will be authentic. Then, every few months find a space, sit down, and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” If you can still give an answer that isn’t survival or money, then keep going.
Keith works with fellow members of Generation X helping them get the most out of their relationships and careers. He is a Certified Business & Life Coach and lives in Ireland. He is the proud father of two teenagers and he sings and plays guitar in his spare time. You can learn more about Keith at Life Coach X.
Tim Brownson of A Daring Adventure
My best advice is know your values and do not compromise. If family is the most important thing to you then don’t take a job that will have you away for them for long periods of time. If integrity is crucial, then be wary of large organizations that are totally profit driven. And if freedom is important to you avoid work that will tie you t one place day in day out.
First work out your values, then put income to one side and decide what will make you happy. Money is great, but if you’re out of alignment with your values all the money in the world won’t make you feel truly happy and fulfilled.
David Cain of Raptitude
Assume that you’re going to spend as many years as it takes until you are doing that thing that you know is the right thing for you. That means trying things, doing them badly, making adjustments, trying something else. Much better to spend five or ten or twenty years finding that right thing than settling on the wrong thing from the outset. It doesn’t matter how many years it takes. It is worth it.
Wow, that was a LOT of amazing advice, wasn’t it?
I also know that it was a lot to take in.
So here’s what I would suggest.
Bookmark this article. And keep coming back to it. Read and reread the individual responses, particularly the ones that resonate the most with you.
Reflect on those responses, journal about how they apply to you, and then start taking action.
Because without action, nothing will change. And you’ll stay stuck on a path that’s not unique or authentic to who you are.
So now I want to turn it over to YOU!!! Leave a comment below and let me know what your takeaways are from all of this amazing advice. And if there’s anything that you think should be added to the advice.
Here’s to finding and living your own unique and authentic path in life!!!