“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
You know that feeling where although things look fine on the surface, you sense an undercurrent? Like something isn’t quite right but you can’t really put a finger on it? Or is it just me? Well half way through 2018, I started feeling this way and it was on and off for a while till I finally figured out what the reason was. Simply put, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing with my life. Not to sound dramatic but that’s what it felt like. Okay, let me give you some context and maybe it’ll make more sense. In my first post last year, I talked about how I didn’t start the year with goals or resolutions after things went awry the year before. I also said in spite of that, I was going to try and put some things down and then share it with you. You can probably tell by now where this is going. It didn’t happen. I just sorta kinda let life happen and decided to take each day at a time. However, those who know me, know I’m not wired to just go with the flow, I try but it’s not in my DNA. At first, I thought nothing of it about half way through the year it started to affect me more than I realized. I had spent the last 2 years after graduating with my master’s in public health just trying to find a job, to make ends meet, to regain some sort of stability that I quickly lost track of the bigger picture.
So mid-way through 2018, I finally feel like I’m settled-ish; I’ve pretty much adjusted to work and although there were some staff turnovers that threatened to increase my blood pressure and stress levels, I felt like I finally had a grip on things. However, that’s when I started to feel this ‘undercurrent’. It took some time, but I finally figured out what it was – I wasn’t working towards anything or looking forward to anything besides the weekend. At every major point in my life, I’ve been working towards something – usually a degree but you get the picture. I also had these grand ideas of what I wanted to do, at least career wise but then I went into survival mode and focused solely on getting a job and when I finally got one, yes, I felt like I accomplished something but then what next?
In any case, it got me thinking about what I wanted out of life. What is my purpose? My raison d’être. Raison d’être literally means ‘reason for being’ or the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence. And since I believe that God has a sense of humour, this idea of purpose kept coming up in different ways. A friend of mine out of the blue asked me where I saw myself in 5 to 10 years. Honestly, I didn’t have an answer for her. Then she went on to ask me ‘What is the one thing you’d say comes to you naturally?’ and ‘What’s the one problem you want to solve in this world?’. These questions give you pause, don’t they? Oh, it didn’t end there, a few weeks later during a meeting with a mentor/role model/spiritual father figure, he asks very similar questions. ‘Do you believe there’s a reason for your being on earth?’ and ‘Do you know it’s possible for you to die without fulfilling that reason?’ Do you feel the chills yet? You bet I did. So, I started thinking about all these questions and trying to come up with answers for them. I started thinking about things I was naturally good at, stuff I liked doing.
At the time of having these conversations, I had been helping a few young ladies who I now consider good friends with their job applications. It just kind of happened. They were job hunting and needed some help, so I offered. From working with them to giving their CVs a facelift/makeover to helping them craft their cover letters to sending them links for positions I thought would be a good fit for them. This is the part where I would say that they all have new jobs they love, and I had a hand in that but no that’s not the case. YET. I personally don’t feel like I’ve done much for them because we’re still job hunting, but their messages of gratitude say otherwise. I think we all forget how little gestures can go a long way. These girls have been so appreciative of my help and it makes me feel good, fulfilled even. Like I have a sense of purpose. I can make a difference in someone else’s life, no matter how little it seems to me. That’s when I realized that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I help someone figure out what they want to do and how they can get there. Not because I have it all figured out but precisely because I don’t. Take job hunting for instance, I’ve been there, done that so many different times. I’ve felt every emotion possible that comes with this process and based on that I can put myself in their shoes and help them figure it out. When I tell them that it will work out, I’m not just uttering platitudes; I mean it because I’ve been there. And it makes a difference.
This inspired me to do something I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the courage to do so which is sign up to be a mentor. And of course, the opportunity to be a mentor came up and I didn’t even have to look far. I’m now mentoring high school students who are at the cusp of adulthood and trying to navigate life. My motivation in being a mentor is to be to my mentees who I needed when I was their age. Given everything that happened, I made the decision that I was going to set some goals for myself not just for 2019 but to think of where and who I want to be 5, 10, 20 years from now. And the best part, one of my favourite people on Instagram was in Ghana for the holidays and had a Dream Planning party. Best believe I signed up and took part in that. I don’t believe in coincidences. I think everything happens exactly how it should when it should, although truthfully, I don’t always feel that way in the moment. So, I put pen to paper and after a lot of thinking and praying, I set some goals for myself. These are some of the different areas for which I set goals: Personal, Spiritual, Financial, Professional, Relational. I’m still working on refining them, but I have long term goals (5 to 10 years), short term goals (3 to 5 years), right now goals (2019/2020). And I’m breaking them down into baby steps, achievable targets so that I don’t get overwhelmed and decide to ditch them altogether. I’ll share my progress as time goes on.
Hopefully this really long post has inspired you to start thinking about what you want out of life and the steps you can take to achieve that. My goal for this year is to be intentional in every aspect of my life. Want to join me?