Last blog I wrote about our ‘inner compass’, the sense of self that pulls us in the right direction if we listen to ourselves carefully. When I think about my own inner compass gently nudging me to do more meaningful work, it’s easy to look back at my soul’s breadcrumbs, the clues that I followed along the way - but these weren’t easy to spot at the time.
Upon graduating from university with a Masters in Science degree, I found myself working in clinical research at a large international pharmaceutical company. I chose this path mainly because I listened to the advice from my teachers at school and an aunt whom I looked up to. They said, ‘You can’t go wrong with science as a career’. At the time STEM careers were becoming very popular. At 18 years old, I had no idea how to tune into my inner compass (intuition) so listened to the advice of others which steered me off course. This job, although glamorous with overseas travel and a great salary, was the wrong fit.
A turning point
I was in my mid-20s when both of my parents were killed in a car accident. When I heard the eulogies at their funeral where people were talking about my parents’ passions in life and how fully they’d lived their lives, the stirrings of my inner compass began to get my attention.
I remember thinking at the time “I don’t even know what I like doing, let alone what I’m passionate about and yet I’ve just spent 5 years at university, working my butt off for something I’m not actually interested in. I don’t even like science!”. It was at that moment that I realised how off-course I had become.
After doing some deep soul-searching I was able to explore and then define what my life’s purpose was about which led me to make a career change into becoming a qualified career and life coach. That was in 2003 and here I am 17 years later and I still love this job and industry. I find it endlessly fascinating and fulfilling, being able to help others to tune into their sense of selves, their own inner compass and find the path that is right for them.
The soul-searching I did helped me to find the breadcrumbs in my life. Looking back now it is so obvious. As a kid and teenager I was always helping others. I loved to listen to my friends with their woes and help them to figure out what to do. I was always so interested in people. Stories about people. I have a large extended family and am constantly around and drawn to people. I was on committees, sports teams, joined clubs, coached a netball team. So coaching and mentoring my brothers when our parents died, I was a natural at it, and I’m so glad I was able to help them – us all really - through a really terrible time in our lives. When I was a student at uni, I loved helping my fellow uni mates with their careers by helping to write their CVs and coaching them on interview techniques to help them land jobs. And that was before I became a professional coach!
So here’s the point. We think that we are going to get struck by our purpose, that the heavens will open and we will hear a booming voice declaring what work we should do in the world. But researchers tell us that it rarely happens like that. Instead, it happens by following the sparks of curiosity - the breadcrumbs - seeing where they lead and continually re-triggering this interest until it either peters out or blooms.
If I had brushed aside the fact that I had an affinity for mentoring and coaching others; if I stayed in the job at the pharmaceutical company and suffered silently through; if I’d ignored this desire to find my own passion after hearing the eulogies of my parents; then who knows, I might still be back in my corporate job, wondering what my purpose was and how I could walk a different path.
But I did follow the bread-crumbs.
Even when I didn’t know why.
Even when it didn’t really make sense.
Even when it looked like there was no purpose to any of it.
I followed them anyway.
Because something inside of me was whispering that there was more to be found on my path. Because I believed that things show up on our path for a reason, even if we can’t rationalise them. And because I knew that curiosity is one of the greatest teachers we have: that we should follow the trail when it appears in front of us, and we should trust that it knows where it’s going, even if we don’t.
I invite you to think about these questions:
What are you curious about right now?
Are there bread crumbs showing up on your path? Are you following them? If not, why not. If yes, keep going and see where they lead. They may just lead you to your purpose.
If you would like 1:1 guidance on finding your path, I have a range of consultation package options tailored to your life-stage and goals. Check them out here
Thanks for reading