I talk a lot about how to keep yourself on your path to your happiest life, but several people have asked me, “What if I don’t know what my happiest path even is? What if I don’t even know where to start?”. To help you find the beginning steps on your path, I recommend asking yourself three major questions: 1) What do I enjoy doing? 2) How do I enjoy doing it? and 3) How can I use that to add value to the world, and to be of service to others?
There are a multitude of other questions that will come after these three, but if you can find the answers to these, it will be a good first step.
Really, it’s a good practice for us all to occasionally refer back to these questions, even after we’ve found our path and we’re living our happiest life. Doing so gives us the ability to check in with ourselves, and make sure that we’re still in line with where we want to be in life.
So let’s get started….Question 1: What do you enjoy doing?
Those things that we love taking our time to do, are the things that we should do more of in life. This can really be anything from cooking to making baskets to designing and building structures, and everything in between.
What are those things that you can do and lose all track of time? If someone says, take the day and do whatever brings you joy, what would you do? If you get some spare time to do what makes you smile, what is that thing, or what are those things?
Personally, I can do artsy things, write, or explore in nature, for hours without realizing that time has even passed.
What are those things for you?
Question 2: How do you enjoy doing those things?
If you love to cook, do you enjoy following other people’s recipes, or making up your own? If you love hiking and being in nature, do you like to photograph it, draw it, or tell stories about your experiences? If you love to tell stories, do you like writing them out for people to read, or would you rather tell them to people first hand?
Figuring out how you like to do things helps you to find your medium basically.
Someone who loves to tell stories, but doesn’t like to tell them in front of people, wouldn’t necessarily be happy with being a storyteller on stage, or teaching classes. They would be much more happy writing books for people to read and enjoy on their own time.
Sorting through how you like to do things can also lead you to finding where you might be able to share your talents and passions with others.
Which is question 3: How can you use your thing (that you enjoy doing, that makes you happy) to add value to the world, and to be of service to others?
Really, the second and third questions are often interchangeable.
Some people need to figure out how they enjoy doing their thing before they can find a way to use it and add value to the world. Others will find how they enjoy doing their thing by jumping in and being of service to others in a way they enjoy. After they have tried different avenues, they can better narrow down how they enjoy using their talents.
For instance, say someone enjoys painting and they volunteer with several different organizations. One may ask them to help paint a mural to help beautify the area, and another asks for their help in painting the outside of a building. In doing this, they realize just how much they enjoy painting houses, and using their unique ability to match colors and help people find what they like.
They knew they enjoyed painting, but they weren’t sure of the how until they started using what they enjoyed doing to help others.
Whichever way those two questions work out, be sure to answer the third one. How can you help other people with what you’re doing?
Some people think that they need more money before they can begin to give back, but to really get the most out of life, giving back should be a big part of things. Doing so doesn’t always mean that you have to give money. There are so many different ways that we can give to those around us.
If you like to cook, can you take meals to people to brighten their day, or to help them out? If you enjoy painting, could you volunteer to help someone paint a room in their house, or a community center? Could you use your skills to teach others how to do what you do?
If you’re a crafty person, there are organizations out there who take handmade items and give them to people who have an illness, or to make someone smile, or sell them to raise money for their cause.
If you love telling stories and sharing things with people verbally, you could find a group of storytellers and join them. You could create a YouTube channel where you tell your stories. You could teach classes that help others learn how to tell stories.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to how you can enhance someone else’s life with what you love to do. You just have to continuously ask yourself, “how can I use my skills to make someone else’s day better?”.
I’m taking a few small examples here and using them to show you, that your imagination is the limit. Once you figure out what you like to do, how you like to do it, and how you can use it to help others, you can really take it in any direction.
That’s the other fun thing about creating your own path: the ways that people are currently doing things, aren’t the only ways to do them. You can create a new or slightly different ways of doing what you love to do at any time. This is how inventions are born, this is how new technology comes about; people find a different way of doing something, or they improve on an existing form.
Now, if you’ll notice, “how can I make money doing this thing” is not one of the three major questions? Why is that?
First, living your happiest life, and doing what you love most, is not always the thing that you make money doing. This is a very common misconception that people have about finding what they love to do.
A lot of people think that, to find your passion means to find what you enjoy doing AND what you can make money doing. If you can do both, then great! Many people can do what they love and make a solid living doing it. Others have hobbies and interests and unique talents that they love to do and express, but they never intend to make money doing it. And this is ok.
Once you separate the need to make money from the term “finding your passion” or “creating your happiest life”, it often becomes much easier to find what you truly enjoy.
Too many people think that if you aren’t making money doing it, then it isn’t worth your time. Instead, we need to look at it from the perspective of: do I enjoy it, does it enhance my life experience, and can I use it to help others?
I’m not saying money isn’t important. Money is the exchange of energy that makes the world go round.
Working at something affords us the ability to do the things we want to do. Money is generally not something that is just handed to us, and we need to do some kind of work in exchange for the money we get. We then exchange that money for the things that we want and need. (This is what I mean in saying that “money is an exchange of energy”.)
When we begin to see money in this way, and we learn to define our money by what we’re planning to exchange it for, it helps to change our mindset about it. If we can focus more on WHY we’re working, it helps to make those hard days at work a little easier.
The second reason that I didn’t ask “how you can make money doing what you enjoy” is this:
If you are focused more on money, than you are on happiness, then your priority is going to be having a job that makes the most money possible whether you are miserable or not. Again, I’m not being nieve here, I understand that we have to have money to pay for things. I also get that some people do a job that they don’t love as a means to an end, to get enough money for something specific. But, I am a firm believer in the fact that people should enjoy what they are doing on most days that they are doing it. I also believe that money shouldn’t be the only reason that you take a job, or don’t take a job. There are so many other important things in life to consider.
If that job lines up with what you want for your life overall, then you should take it. If it doesn’t, and you take the job, and you are miserable the entire time you’re there, what are you really benefitting? You have money, but you’re losing your peace of mind, your stress levels are going through the roof, and all of this affects your health and relationships in a negative way.
One of my favorite quotes says, “We should build our lives so that we don’t need a vacation from them”. I’m not sure who said it first, but this is what we should strive for. Don’t just settle for what you have to most of your life, and have those few vacations that you look forward to. Create a life in which you are happy every day, grateful for the things you have, and then take vacations to enhance that experience.
What can you do to get started creating that life?
Each of us are meant to do something with our lives and our talents. You may end up doing something that is like others, or similar to what others do, but you will put your own signature style on it. Even if you’re doing something that has strict standards, like being a doctor, a nurse, or a pharmacist, you add the element that no one else has, which is your unique personality and way of communicating with others.
Instead of trying to mimic what others are doing, or trying to simply figure out how to make money doing something, ask yourself these three major questions, and find your unique path.
Because when we enjoy what we’re doing, it shows in how we do it and how we interact with others. Doing things that make our own lives happier spreads out and makes the world a happier place for everyone that lives in it.