There’s a path that’s perfect for you… let me help you find it.
– Kate De Jong
It’s been seven years now since I left my corporate career and took the leap of faith to follow my heart.
When I finally realised that I not only wanted, but needed, to quit my career to follow my heart, there were no career coaches or mentors I knew who could guide me through the process of transition. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I only knew that continuing on my current path was no longer an option. Fumbling along on my own, my transition was filled with more doubt, fear, and uncertainty than was necessary. And this is why I’m now so dedicated to being a guide for you, to help you avoid the struggle I went through, and to help you transition into a life you love with ease, grace and, most of all – joy.
Are you living fully in alignment with your personal truth, both personally and professionally?
Are you walking your true path?
What is your ‘true path’? I define it like this.
Your ‘true path’ is the path or vocation that allows you to express yourself fully and to contribute your unique gifts in service to something you care about, while making a positive difference and earning you an abundant, reliable income.
Do you long to feel more fulfillment and joy in your professional life? Do you wish you could wake up each morning excited to jump out of bed and start your day because you absolutely love what you do? Do you wish that your work could energise, uplift, and nourish you? Does all of that sound wonderful, but also like an impossible dream? If so, I’m here to tell you that it might be closer within your reach than it seems, and I’m here to guide you there.
I know how painful it feels to wake up each morning with a sense of dread, knowing that you have a busy day ahead with so many meetings to attend, deadlines to meet and different balls to juggle. And that despite how ‘busy’ and full your days are, you still won’t be able to escape that nagging feeling of emptiness inside.
If you’re tired of the struggle and you yearn for something different, it’s time.
Your feelings of frustration and emptiness are a signal that you’ve wandered off your true path. Prolonged struggle and frustration are not noble, admirable or necessary. If you’d tried to tell me that seven years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’d grown up hearing constant messages like “Success takes hard work, grit, and determination” and “Nothing worth having comes easy”. I had seen my parents work incredibly hard to build their lives and I believed I would have to do the same.
But here’s what I now know: Yes, of co,urse you will have to work hard to achieve your goals and dreams, but if it feels like hard work, you’re probably doing the wrong thing. When you follow your heart and do what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, it won’t feel like hard work. It feels easy, joyful and fun. But you’ll find that you’ll want to work hard, because you love what you do.
There’s no ‘struggle’ on your true path, just committed and inspired action that feels good!
Take some time to tune into how you feel about your work right now. Do you look forward to getting stuck into your work each day? Or do you feel a certain level of anxiety about it? Does your work inspire and uplift you? Or does it bore you or tax you too heavily? Does it feel light, easy and joyful? Or does it feel constricting and heavy? Does your work fill you with a sense of purpose and meaning? Or is it something you do to pay the bills? You’ll know if you’re on your ‘true path’ or not – and if you’re not, what I’m about to tell you will help you find it.
How to Find and Walk Your True Path
“Sometimes your hear a voice through the door calling you…
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you”
Step 1: Turn and Face the Longing
The first thing you need to do in the quest to find your true path is turn and face the longing. This is hard for many of us; I know it was for me. I felt scared that if I surrendered to my deepest desires, I’d be completely overtaken by them. I had responsibilities and obligations after all. I had bills and a mortgage to pay, savings and superannuation plans to build, and a rising cost of living to cover. Over the years, the ‘Golden Handcuffs’ had kept my straying heart at bay, with financial benefits and bonuses rewarded to me in exchange for my loyalty to the company. How could I possibly give that up to follow my heart’s wild impulses?
As Oprah says in her book O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose “Concerns about money and status long ago extinguished most people’s ability to think authentically about their career options.” I’d been so caught up in my perceived obligations and expectations from others that I’d learned to suppress my heart’s desires at all cost.
In my ‘Moment of Clarity’ I’d finally realised that my constant effort to suppress my authentic desires was the cause of all my feelings of emptiness and depletion.
It took an enormous amount of courage to walk away from all the financial security into the fire of risk and uncertainty, to surrender to those deep desires.
But I haven’t regretted it for a second. The feelings of freedom and satisfaction I now feel are indescribable. With the right guidance and support and a pragmatic risk management plan in place, you can navigate the process of career transition with grace and ease and set yourself up financially relatively quickly. When you do what you love, the money will flow. I have seen this happen too many times with my clients to think otherwise.
If you hear your heart whispering but feel too afraid of the risks involved, I urge you to ask yourself this question:
What is the cost to you of not following your heart?
How is your current career direction impacting your health, your happiness, your relationships, your family life, your freedom, your ability to have fun and enjoy life, and your sanity? Try to imagine how you will feel at the end of your life about the decisions you’ve made. In Bronnie Ware’s famous blog article Regrets of the Dying she describes the number one top regret of her elderly patients as:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.
You have a choice. You can choose to commit to following your heart and doing whatever it takes to be true to yourself. Or you can live with the whispers in your heart for the rest of the days and wonder what it would have been like if you’d had the courage to follow them. Which one do you choose?
Don’t be afraid. Turn and face the longing.
If you truly wish to live a life that is fulfilling, joyful, rewarding, deeply satisfying and abundant, you must start to listen to the whispers. Your desires contain the seeds of your calling. Yes, your path will be challenging at times like every path in life, but the rewards will be greater than anything you could ever imagine. You’ll feel profound levels of joy, freedom, prosperity and satisfaction when you make the decision to find and walk your true path, full out.
Step 2: Start the Process of Figuring Out What You Really Want to Do.
So, what do you really want to do? That’s the million dollar question! And it’s not one we’re easily able to answer. If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably heard the whispers in your heart and you know you can’t ignore them any longer. And yet you don’t have enough clarity to know what those whispers mean and how they could possibly translate into a new career direction. It’s very difficult to decipher the whispers and yearnings to know what you really want. As the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow once said:
It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.
– Abraham Maslow
So don’t be discouraged if you feel lost and confused; it’s completely normal.
I know how difficult it can be to feel the longing for a more joyful and fulfilling professional life, and at the same time to have no idea how to make sense of the longings to create a new career direction that really is the right direction.
The last thing you want to do is give up your current career and financial security to follow a brilliant idea you have, only to find out that your new direction doesn’t leave you feeling truly happy and fulfilled either.
So before you take the leap of faith to forge a new career path, take the time to do some deep self-reflection to uncover the four elements that are critical to finding your true path.
Your True Path or Purpose: Where your natural ability meets your true nature, your passion, and your ability to meet a societal need (profit).
For a full description of each of the four elements, refer to my article Pathfinding: How to Find Your Unique Professional Path & Purpose.
You’ll know when you’ve found your purpose: You’ll find unlimited creative energy, motivation, inspiration, dedication, devotion and a deep and lasting sense of satisfaction and fulfilment.
Finding your professional purpose feels like coming home.
It connects you to something fundamental to your sense of identity, purpose, and well-being. Living in this zone provides a sense of self-revelation, of defining and expressing who you really are and you finally know – without a shadow of a doubt – that this is what you’re ‘meant’ to be doing with your life. There’s a feeling of devotion and obsession, almost. Many people who finally find their unique calling describe it as an ‘epiphany’.
Step 3: Clarity Comes Through Consistent, Inspired Action.
If you’re waiting to find out exactly what your calling is before you start to take action, you might end up waiting forever. You’ll only discover what you’re ‘meant’ to do by getting out there and trying different things. You might have lots of wonderful ideas, but it’s not until you actually engage in them that you discover whether they really are the foundation of your true calling. When experimenting with different ideas, be sure to pay close attention to what lifts your energy and excites you and to keep moving in that direction. If you try something and realise it’s not what you thought it would be, that’s OK and completely normal. Try to view the whole exercise of finding your calling as one of trial and error, adventure and discovery.
There is no failure, only feedback.
All feedback is useful and helpful. But don’t quit your job and pin all your hopes on a big idea you have before you’ve had a chance to test it out. The big question I often get asked is “When is the right time to quit my job?” This will depend entirely on your unique situation and the answer is different for everyone. If you’re happy (enough) where you are to try different ideas while still holding down your full-time job, that is the best option. Try to provide yourself with as much financial stability as you can while experimenting so that you don’t have the stress of finances while trying to find your way. If you want to break free and go it alone, figure out how much money you’ll need to cover your cost of living for at least six months and make sure you can cover it before you throw yourself into the new venture.
It takes time to build momentum and get traction.
Inform yourself as much as you can about your idea or new career direction. Read up on everything you can and better still, talk to people who are already working in the fields you’re interested in. You’ll find that most people are happy to let you buy them a coffee in exchange for some insight into what their job is like and what a typical day looks like. Dave Evans and Bill Burnett call these Life Design Interviews, where you interview people with the intent to find out more information about different vocations. A wonderful by-product of these conversations is a valuable network and connections in fields you’re interested in.
Don’t jump into a new venture without first informing yourself fully. Research, investigate and talk to as many people as is humanly possible.
Step 4: Leap!
As scary as it sounds, at some stage you will have to take the leap of faith and dedicate all your time and resources to your new career direction. This feels incredibly scary, I know. Something I’ve discovered since quitting my corporate career in 2011 to build my own thriving coaching practice is this:
Fear and excitement are in constant tension on your true path.
You’ll be called to do things you haven’t done before. You’ll have to jump without knowing whether you’ll land on safe ground. And you must be prepared to feel the fear and do it anyway. In Jenny Blake’s wonderful book Pivot she reminds us “Do not expect courage to rain down from the sky before you make a move. It comes from taking action. Courage will not arrive in full [beforehand]; it will appear afterward, when the confidence from making a life-changing decision settles in… The more courageous action you take connected with your vision and values, the more confident you will feel along the way.”
Step 5: Get the Right Guidance and Support on Your Journey
Finally, remember that you can’t do it alone. We all need guidance, advice, support, cheerleading and mentoring from those who have walked before us. I’ve been so fortunate to have the help and support of many mentors throughout my journey who each provided a valuable piece of the puzzle. It’s thanks to their wisdom and guidance that I’ve managed to build my thriving coaching practice that allows me to do what I love and love what I do while helping countless men and women to find their true path and live the life of their dreams. If you feel stuck and need help, I’m here for you! Please do get the guidance you need. I know how frustrating it is to feel lost and stuck, and it’s not necessary!
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to help you navigate through the fear, doubt and uncertainty into your ‘zone of magic’ where your clarity, confidence, and abundance reside.
To find out more about finding your true path, get yourself a free copy of my E-Book Pathfinding: How to Find Your Inspired Professional Path & Purpose.
If you have any questions at all, I’d to help you. Please reach out to me at [email protected] and I’ll be in touch within 24 hours.
In service to helping you live your brightest life,
Kate De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International
This article is the first chapter in our International Bestseller THE ART OF UNLEARNING: Conscious Choices for Empowered Living. Did you enjoy the article above? Get yourself a copy of THE ART OF UNLEARNING and continue reading the stories of eight other inspirational women, who found a way to overcome their hefty life challenges in order to find and live their truth. GET YOUR COPY NOW.