How To Find A Path That Speaks To You (Even When The World Is Full Of Noise)
Our world today is full of noise. We are constantly being told how we can be better: more productive employees; more loving partners; and even more attractive, healthy, or efficient versions of ourselves. It feels like once we achieve some milestone, there's another one lurking around the corner waiting to be added to our never-ending to-do list.
Well, you're not alone. When we juxtapose this constant cycle of self-improvement beside the state of our collective mental health, we get to an interesting (and not-so-great) conclusion. Adults in our world today are some of the most anxious, stressed, and unfulfilled human beings in history.
But, don't worry, everything isn't doom and gloom. I know firsthand how overwhelming and hopeless it can feel to get stuck on that never-ending hamster wheel of improvement and keep looking outside of yourself for the answers. But there are tools to help find that deep sense of fulfillment and discover your purpose in life.
Why finding fulfillment isn't a selfish quest.
Before we dive in, let's address the elephant in the room: This past year felt like a massive shake-up of everything we've known in our modern world, so it might feel really frivolous to think about purpose and fulfillment during this time. That concept is something I battled with when I was writing my first book, On Adulting: How Millennials (And Any Human, Really) Can Work Less, Live More and Bend the Rules for Good, which centers on helping adults find their purpose.
But, living a purpose-filled life is actually one of the most radical choices we can make—not just for ourselves but for the world. Dan Buettner, the National Geographic researcher behind the Blue Zones, once said that if he could bottle up a "magic pill" for longevity and happiness it would be "having a purpose" in life. And, he doesn't define purpose as having a rock-star career or gracing the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. In all of Buettner's research, he found that the small moments where we connect with other human beings and try to be of service in some way, unlocks the key to fulfillment.
Meaning, finding your purpose-driven path isn't a selfish choice—it's actually one that has the power to shift the world for good.
Taking the first step toward finding your purpose.
Where do we begin tapping into our purpose when we're constantly being pulled in a million different directions? How can we figure out what purpose really means if we're always being told how to be better everywhere we look?
The first simple step to take is what I like to call becoming best friends with you. In order to get clear on what really lights you up, it's important to cultivate that internal voice and build your intuitive muscle. I know how difficult that can be to do, especially these days, but alone time doesn't need to be fancy. I'd recommend setting a recurring calendar invite to yourself that you take just as seriously as a meeting with your boss. It can be for as short as five minutes, or as long as an hour.
During those scheduled times, your only priority is to get to know that inner voice. It's essentially a practice in trusting yourself. In the On Adulting book, I lay out a couple of exercises you can practice—like reflecting on what you loved as a kid or dreaming about your future self. But, in the early stages, you can do anything—whether it's going on a walk without listening to music, or exploring a new part of your neighborhood—as long as you do it consciously.
The way to find that deep sense of fulfillment, and discover your purpose in life starts with spending time alone.
The key part of this consistent practice is twofold: undoing all the layers of what you're "supposed" to do in life based on arbitrary societal rules, and trusting that your inner self already has all the wisdom.
As you exercise this intuitive muscle, the noise will fall away and your purpose-driven path will begin to unfold.
Katina Bajaj is the co-founder and Chief Well-being Officer of Daydreamers. After getting off the burnout cycle, she became fascinated by the power of creativity to improve our overall well-being. Katina is a published well-being author (Simon & Schuster), a certified coach meditation teacher, and has a Master's in Clinical Psychology from Columbia's Mind-Body Institute. Her work on creative well-being has been featured in publications like Teen Vogue and Fast Company, and she has amassed a following of nearly 100k globally.