Hi, lovely ones. Welcome to episode number 10 of Hello Rebecca Ray, the podcast. I am so grateful that you’re here with me. In this episode, we’re going to talk about, how do you figure out what your purpose or thing is, you know, thing that you want to do in the world. The thing that you want to contribute the thing that’s going to get you out of bed in the morning, but before we do, I’d like to shout out monbeable.
Those of you that jump off here and go and leave me a review on this podcast, just the couple of minutes of your time, you have no idea how much that means to me. I am so incredibly grateful, and this review is so beautiful by monbeable.
“Rebecca’s content is relatable, relevant and real. Her warm, intelligent style connects with the heart as well as the mind. I highly recommend this podcast for anyone that desires to develop their self compassion and empowerment.”
Thank you monbeable I am so grateful for that review.
So recently, I was thinking, what topics do I need to include in the podcast moving forward? And if any of you are listening to this and you’ve got some ideas, feel free to DM me on Instagram. I’m on all the socials as @DrRebeccaRay, all one word, but I’d love to know if you’ve got any topics that you’d like me to explore.
When I asked our community one of the topics that came up most it was repeated a lot. Like there was a lot of topics that was suggested, but this one was repeated over and over again. And that was some kind of derivative of
- how do I find what my thing is?
- How do I find what my purpose is?
- How do I know what my dreams and goals are?
It’s a big topic. But I thought because it was repeated. I needed to jump on this one quickly, because I think it’s affecting a lot of you. And that it seems like this is a topic that creates stress for you as well. Understandably, one person said,
I get anxiety every time someone talks about following dreams or sharing a gift with the world as I haven’t worked out what mine is just yet. You know, that space right whenever else seems to have it figured out but you’re still struggling working out what it is that you want yours to be or to look like, or you’re not even sure what it is that you’re interested in right now.
Now, I don’t think this person is alone in feeling this pressure, around deciding what they’re feeling or their purpose or their direction is to be. I really think our culture places far too much emphasis on this idea that we have a purpose or passion. Or one thing that we’re supposed to uncover through the path of just living day to day apparently was just supposed to trip over this amazing thing that is our thing to do in the world. I don’t buy it. I don’t think you should buy it either. Because:
Firstly, how can you possibly be expected to know of the millions of things to do and be in the world? That one thing is for you?
Secondly, why is there this idea that we must have just one thing or one direction? And if we change course, then we are potentially judged as flashy or not having it together.
And finally, what if you don’t have a passion or purpose? What then where does that leave you?
And what I want to propose is what if that doesn’t have to be the pinnacle of identity definition that it’s made out to be?
What if there is another way? What if you don’t have to prescribe to this idea that you have to have one thing in order to be worthy, or in order to know where your life is heading, or in order to be able to contribute valuably, and meaningfully to the world.
I don’t know the number of times in my life that I’ve lost direction, or changed my direction, or been unsure of my direction. But I know that there’s too many to count.
And I think one of the most important things we can do is normalise the process of self-discovery and evolution.
What I mean by that, is we need to learn about ourselves, and how we want to be in the world. We need to try life on for size.
And this happens over and over again, as we age.
And change and evolve. There’s no getting out of it, lovely ones.
It’s not like you can just choose the thing that you’re going to do and stick with it for the next, you know, 70 years. Even though that’s what might be sold to us as in you need to find this miraculous idea that fits perfectly for you, that you’re then going to represent and be and give to the world.
It’s just not like that. I’ve not seen it be like that in my own life experience. And I certainly haven’t seen that be true. For the vast majority of my clients. I think it might have been true for generations that have come before us. But then again, they probably wouldn’t have called it their passion or their purpose or their thing. It might have just been a job that they got that they stuck with, because jobs were hard to come by back then.
I want to press our discussion of finding a thing with the fact that having a thing or purpose or passion is not a prerequisite to living a meaningful and fulfilling life.
You can have many things, and not one of them has to be some kind of standout life defining thing, and you can still live just as well, as if you did have that one passion that shapes your trajectory.
So this isn’t going to be a discussion about the importance of finding your thing.
If you’re kind of rolling your eyes at me right now saying that that’s what I really signed up for. This is what I pressed play on. Don’t worry, I am going to get I will give you some steps that might be helpful, but it’s really important that I want you to take away from this episode.
The reason behind why you think you need a thing, you know, because I just think prescribing to one particular thing is locking you down on a particular path that you may not always want to be on. And I’m a fan of flexibility.
So instead, let’s talk about self-discovery as an ongoing process, and about how you can celebrate the process of learning yourself.
You know, I always want to be able to say I am learning myself. I’m learning how to be, me better. And I think that’s an indicator of a life very well lived, that you use your self-discovery.
You use all the things that you come to know about yourself, to just continually live better. And sometimes that means by changing direction completely. And by choosing more than one thing, even when we’re told otherwise, even when your friend your best friend has, got their career sorted out and they’ve chosen to study medicine, and all of sudden they’ve been a doctor for 20 years, and they still love it. For some people, that’s true. But it’s certainly not the case for many, many people.
I don’t want you to feel less about yourself.
If that’s where you find yourself in a position where you’re unsure about what it is that you want to do next, it’s actually really common. And I’m here to remind you that it can actually be really, really healthy to be having these processes of exploration. And with that said, I know many of you will still say, but Beck. I really want to figure out what I enjoy.
- What I want to do.
- What can get me out of bed in the morning excited to do or be.
- What can make me feel that I’m contributing to the world?
- What can hold my attention so much that I lose track of time?
I want that thing.
And yes, I get it. Because finding activities that make you feel like this is a worthy pursuit. There are many positive effects of experiencing a sense of accomplishment and engagement that these activities provide. So I’m not saying it’s not worthwhile. But that doesn’t mean that the things that make you feel like this, you know, the things that get you excited the things that make you lose time because you’re so engaged in them, that they will end up becoming your work or your art or even something that anyone knows about other than you.
Can we not place those expectations on ourselves please lovely ones, that if we enjoy something, we need to turn it into a job or a business or a career or some other form of money-making venture.
Sometimes a thing is just a thing. And it needs space to be just what it is without having to make it into something formalised. Because the thing is, you don’t have to, you can find something that you love, and have it be just that I don’t want you to let society tell you that your work and your thing, or your passion or your purpose must be the same thing. Quite often it’s not.
I decided I wanted to study psychology when I was 15. So Young, oh my goodness, so young to be making that kind of decision. And at the time, I’ll admit, I felt a little smug about my decision. That, you know, I knew what I wanted to do, while many other kids at school didn’t.
What they didn’t know is that a solid decision helped to relieve my anxiety about the future. Knowing I was studying psychology, I didn’t need to sit with the discomfort of uncertainty. I didn’t need to take a gap year to find myself and what I wanted to do, I kind of wish I hadn’t now. But we’ll get to that when I tell you the rest of the story. And now it’s not like I didn’t have any interest in psychology and chose it randomly. I did have an interest in science.
But my fixation on the decision was around relieving anxiety more than it was about finding the perfect purpose for me.
So it wasn’t that psychology wasn’t attractive to me, it was the topics. And the idea of discovering more about human beings and why they do what they do was incredibly interesting to me. But what I’m saying is, at the time at the ripe old age of 15, that decision alleviated so much of my anxiety, because I saw a whole heap of other people sitting with anxiety and uncertainty about what they want to do with their lives.
The fact that I had made a decision was anxiety relieving more than it was a sense of finding my purpose. And I want you to be mindful that this doesn’t occur for you as well. I don’t want you to force yourself to make a decision or commit to one thing, simply to relieve the anxiety of not knowing.
We can get thrust into, because brains do not like uncertainty at all. And yet sometimes we need to be able to sit in the not knowing, in order to be able to explore enough of life to find what fits for us right now.
I left school and went straight to uni. And a year into my studies, I chose to change direction of my own volition. I decided I wanted to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and become a pilot. My grandfather, Ronnie was a private pilot. He didn’t do it for his job that was a hobby of his. And I loved flying with him and I decided to check it out initially as a hobby.
So, I was still studying psych at the same time that I started learning to fly, but the act of flying made me extremely anxious. So, then it became something that I didn’t want to beat me.
And this might sound weird, but because as much as I loved flying, when you’re a passenger, you don’t have any kind of responsibility. But when I was in control of the aircraft, there was all this responsibilities sitting on my shoulders. And it just made me incredibly anxious.
I had great flying instructors and I never failed a test, I was always able to fly very well, albeit with a lot of practice. But that didn’t take away the anxiety. And because it became something that made me anxious, I then decided it was something I had to conquer. So I continued well beyond private pilot training, which is really all I should have done.
When I look back. I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment of flying a small piece of tin around the sky by myself. That was pretty cool. I really liked that. But that’s all I really needed to do. I didn’t need to go ahead and just go overboard, like my stubborn self sometimes does just to prove something to the anxious, scared part of myself and to prove something to everyone else. I don’t think I needed to do that. And yet I did. And because I went well beyond private pilot training, which meant spending a fortune on something, but I now felt I had to do something so I would not disappoint my parents and my grandfather.
I ended up locking myself into a path that was simply about avoiding failing, and avoiding the shame of failing. I did a commercial rating. I did a night flying rating. I did a multi engine rating, I did an instructor rating. I did airline pilot theory training, I did instrument flight theory training, because being stubborn and intensely concerned with the judgement and doing the right thing meant that continuing down a path that was not a good fit for me was less important than who I thought I would disappoint if I left flying in went back to psychology.
So basically I put myself on a path that I continued just because I thought it would make other people feel more comfortable than it would if I was to leave that path and go back to my original path.
Because by this stage, I discontinued my psych studies in order to prove that I could fly for a living. So somewhere along the way, I decided that I was going to fly for a major airlines Australia. I finished my undergraduate psychology studies and went to fly full time did my training full time and that meant that I really felt like I had to finish it.
I had to follow it through I couldn’t possibly say I’ve made the wrong decision here. And let me just say right here right now, that’s bullshit. Because the only person you hurt in the long term if you continue down a path that doesn’t fit for you, is you. Please don’t do what I do. Learn from my experience.
because the thing is what I found flying fun I did, I really enjoyed certain parts of it. But flying just wasn’t for me, just not my thing. Just were not a good fit at all. I had to break out with flying because visual spatial skills are not my strong suit and facing a day where absolutely everything changes is not what fits for me as a human being, I actually really like to do the same thing over and over again, I like to have the same routine.
I like a lot of stability. I’m a huge introvert so I actually really like staying home I work from home now and much of my days look the same even though my output is different. Flying on the other hand, every single thing changes. The weather what a contract air traffic control will ask you to do. Who else is flying in the sky at that point in time where you’re flying, what your flight plan will be etc. It was not a good fit for me. We definitely needed to break up. So,
I cried. As I confessed to my parents that I wanted to change my path again. The sense of shame and failure was very real. And the guilt that I felt for wasting all that time and money was paralysing.
Luckily there were receptive to me returning to psychology and I was receptive, receptive to attaching myself to psychology is my purpose in the world, because it sounded stable and socially acceptable and like something I could be proud of. Because at this age, you know, we’re talking I was still in my very early 20s, my ego was very determined to be recognised. So again, this wasn’t so much about my thing or my purpose. It was about me attaching myself to something that made me feel worthy. And this is the other problem with having to decide on what your thing is.
It’s very important to understand:
- What that particular need is about why do you need to have one thing?
- Why do you need to have a purpose?
- is it because we’re told we should have one?
because that’s certainly fed into my drive, to be able to have a career and say I was a something, in this case, a psychologist. So I finished my undergrad and my post grad studies and started my own private practice. And for a while, I loved it. I really loved it. So in some ways, it was my thing. You know, I was a very. I still am but I just don’t do clinical practice anymore. We’ll get to that. But I in clinical practice, I was a great therapist. I was a really, really good psychologist. I could run a decent business.
I enjoyed sitting in a really privileged space with my clients, who opened up the darkest parts of themselves and allowed me the honour to walk by them during their parts of healing.
But after a while, I deviated Of course, again, it was 2015 and I was severely burnt out from doing too much clinical work. And I had come to the conclusion that I needed to leave psychology and I had no idea whether or not i’d return to it. I didn’t even know if I wanted to return, let alone whether I could. All I knew was that I needed to stop despite not wanting to, because burnout is a lie or like that. It attempts to convince you that the answer is to do more, not less. And again,
The sense of failing was overwhelming and the guilt for abandoning my clients was intense.
I had no idea what I would do after my break. So initially, I was just going on a sabbatical just to not to psychology for a while, but not knowing what that would bring meant that I experienced a whole stack of discomfort of uncertainty and a sense of being lost in this kind of unfamiliar world of not doing what I’ve always done for over a decade.
So here I was walking away from who I was essentially, because I tied myself up as being a psychologist. That was my identity. And I got so burnt out that I had to walk away. Who are you then who are you? If that’s what you’ve attached your identity to? This is the other problem with deciding that you have to have one thing.
Is it because that’s what’s going to make you who you are. Because I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t make you who you are.
You are so much more than that particular thing. Just because it was once your thing doesn’t mean it will always be your thing, right. That’s what I discovered. And the third time I changed directions, it was a curve ball.
It’s important to talk about this in terms of life directions as well when you have this kind of life plan, this timeline that you’re working towards, and where you’re headed and how you see your life panning out because this change in direction, hit me square in the face because I had absolutely no preparation for it. That’s when I fell in love with the most remarkable human being I’ve ever met. But she happened to be a woman and that wasn’t in my life plan at all.
It did not fit the plan Thank you very much. And the emotions I had to navigate to allow this love its rightful place, so just too numerous and far too complex to untangle. Right here in the rest of this episode. Maybe I should do an episode on that actually. But suffice to say that my direction felt foreign and risky and open to judgement and non acceptance for a long time, because I started and continued a relationship with a woman, very happy too, I did eight years down the track by the way,
if you happen to fall in love with a woman, and you also identify as a woman or you fall in love with someone that wasn’t in your life plan, then in my experience, I’d say test it out because it can be the most amazing thing that can ever happen to you.
Some things we need:
- Change forces us to sit in the soil of hard feelings before we flower through growth.
- This is it though sometimes we need the changes.
- Sometimes we need the uncertainty.
- We need the not knowing in order to grow and expand.
But most of us have a strong desire for a sense of direction. It’s no small thing for our psyches because it’s wrapped up in our sense of purpose and meaning. It’s not just “this is the next step I will take but also and this is why I’ll take it” pretty good reasons for all the fields really, to be attached to the question of where you’re headed next.
It’s a really, really emotional thing to think about. And that’s why the person that commented when I asked about podcast topics said that whenever someone says, you know, follow your dreams or share your gift, she gets really anxious because she doesn’t know what that is. This is because of what we make it mean. But there’s this subtle implication that you are lost if you don’t have direction, or that you haven’t got your life together.
If you have yet to settle on one particular thing, that you’re missing something or missing out on missing the point. Our Western culture of quick fixes and filtered perfection would have you believe that you can simply pick up a jar of direction and purpose if there’s any left in stock down at your local grocery store in Aisle 12.
In other words, everyone else knows how to find it and has been there before you. So not only are you clearly lost, but you’re also late.
And if you’re feeling this lovely one, if you’re nodding then please No, I see you. I get how you could be convinced that there’s something missing about you or something wrong, that you haven’t found your thing yet. But I promise you there’s not.
Here’s the thing about you and your sense of direction though. Both of you are dynamic.
As you evolve, so it is where you’re going. When something is no longer working, your sense of direction needs to bend, to protect you and keep you close to your values. When your world is turned upside down because of unexpected and painful events. So is your sense of direction. And when you’re in a season of healing and recovering, so is your sense of direction. It can’t and won’t always remain the same, nor will it always be clear, available and yours for following.
And when it comes to finding your thing, it often takes exposing yourself to a lot of life to stumble across what fits for you. But for those of you that want steps and instructions, I see you, us so my faithful and I can say that there are signposts along the way that could be helpful to look out for.
Those signposts are there. But first, before we look at the steps, because I know that’s what you want, I know but you might still be going Beck, just give me steps one through five.
I will give you some steps. If you promise me that you’ll approach them with these points in mind.
- Firstly, there is no single direction that will be right for you for every hour and every year of the rest of your life. You can’t go wrong, because change is inevitable through the process. Also, there’s no single right way to get there. There are always multiple roads, each confirming what does and doesn’t work.
- In addition to that, please know that no one’s opinion is more important than your own. Because no one else is living your life. You’re allowed to not yet know where you’re headed next. Although the fear Centre in your brain that loves certainty will tell you otherwise. That’s what brains do. They say please just make a decision so that we can rest. But all that does potentially is pushes you into a hole that you don’t want to be just because you wanted to frame your current position in life in a clean way.
- And finally, your direction is in the action of taking one next step and then the step after that and the one after that it’s a series of smaller decisions tied together. It doesn’t have to be this one huge decision about what you’re going to do next. But to find your thing, even if it’s just the thing for right now, here are some steps.
The 5 steps you’ve been waiting for:
- Firstly, try writing a list of paths that you know you don’t want to take.Knowing what you don’t want to do is just as valuable as knowing what you do want to do. As I look back, I think the things that have felt uncomfortable for me, the directions that I’ve taken that haven’t worked have been the things that have actually shaped what I do today, even more than the things that have worked for me because they’ve showed me what my non negotiable are. And by non negotiable I mean the things that you know about yourself that you don’t want to violate, because you just know that your well being is affected if you do that.For instance. I’m a morning person. I could never be a musician. Despite the fact that I can’t play any instrument for shit. I am not musical at all. In terms of have no musical skills, but let’s say I did have musical skills I still couldn’t play gig after gig night after night after night, I would break my brain and my body would literally break because I’m a morning person.And I actually like to go to bed really early. Because that’s the way I feel revived the next day. So I want you to think about what are your non negotiable what are the things that you know about yourself? That if you were to violate them actually make you feel unwell in some way. It’s the same for me and routine. I really love routine as much as I love adventure in a planned way. I like to travel but have all the things planned. On my day to day life I really like routine. So a non negotiable for me is to be a pilot because routine changes all the time.
- Secondly, I want you to ask yourself if there was no failure, what would you do?I want you to sit quietly. Just reflect on that for a few minutes and see what comes up for you. Then I want you to write a list of what it’s costing you not to take the next step. Because most times, we can’t truly know what a path is like until we step on it.
- Step 3 So how are we standing at the beginning without ever crossing the start line working out for you.And I might be playing devil’s advocate a little bit here, but I want you to think about it even if you have taken a few steps to start because sometimes we can make excuses for ourselves and say, but I have started It’s just that I don’t have x y Z to be able to continue. Sometimes not having whatever resources it is that you need to continue can become an excuse in and of itself to stay stuck because staying stuck. feels more comfortable than exploring more of the thing that’s unknown.
- Step four, I want you to get clarity on the things that you love to do.And then consider what the various combinations of those things produce. So this is where you actually look at what you do know about yourself, what do you enjoy? What holds your attention?
- Step five, I want you to be open to the opportunities that are presented to you. Sometimes it’s not about us seeking out a direction, but instead following a direction that finds us. So don’t put so much pressure on yourself lovely one for you to come up with the answer because sometimes, just as a result of living the answer will find you.Now I’m not saying that that’s the final step and therefore you do nothing. Because doing nothing will just give you a sense of anxiety. What I am saying is, do things go about living your life, bring as much richness and variety into Your life is possible. But don’t put pressure on yourself for one of those things to be a thing a capital T. It might simply just be something you enjoy for a time.
So we’ve been a lot of places in this episode, let me summarise all the ones so that you don’t feel too overwhelmed. So let me go back to what’s important.
Firstly, society places unrealistic expectations on us to have a passion or purpose that defines our identity and becomes our life and work path. But not only is finding one thing, a ridiculous concept, when there are millions of options, but it also then locks you in and potentially stops you from trying many different options over the course of your life. Your path is the one that fits for you and you only there is no single direction that will be right for you for every hour and every year of the rest of your life.
You can’t go wrong because change is inevitable throughout the process.
But if you want some steps to take away to find your thing, even if it’s your thing for right now, then what I want you to do is to know what you don’t want to do.
Consider what you do if you couldn’t fail.
Before, reflect on what it’s costing you not to take the next step.
Make a list of the things that you love. And be open to things that find you rather than you having to seek them out. Lovely ones, for all of you who are listening to these who are thinking, I’m not sure where my life is going to hit next. I just want you to know that I see you and I’m with you.
And for those of you that know that your life can’t continue down the path that it’s currently on. You’ve got to change direction in some way even if you don’t want to also see you and I’m with you. I have been there.
I can promise you that times, the future is actually far better than you can possibly imagine. If only you make the space for it to be different than what you planned.
You don’t need a thing. You don’t need a purpose. You don’t need a passion to live an amazing life.
You just need to find the things that feel brave and meaningful for right now.
So go gently lovely ones, but go because it’s the action that transforms everything about our experience.
Lovely ones, thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray. If you’ve got something meaningful for this episode, the most meaningful thing you can do is to leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts because it’s based reviews that help this podcast stay here. Make sure to subscribe and share this episode.
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**This transcript is taken from our software and sometimes it’s not perfect, thank you for understanding.