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Setting the Sails for Your Future

By Fatima Tariq

While your twenties can be a significant time of your life, it can set the direction and tone for your life. What you sow in your 20s is what you reap for the rest of your life, be it habits, work, investments, lifestyle, health, or relationships. It can be an enlightening time for many, now that you are finally out there in the world for the first time.

However, it can also be particularly gruelling as you grapple with colossal questions regarding your existence; why are you here on this earth, what do you want to do, and why do you want to do it. It’s easy to shy away from a daunting task such as this without any support.

Just like you, I turned to motivational blogs, TED talks, self-help books, you name it; and yet I felt as lost as anybody. It wasn’t until I experimented with every anecdote in the book that realized I needed to redefine things for myself. Swirling in every “Motivational Talk”, words like “Passion”, “Purpose” and “Success” emerge on the top. It took me years to redefine them and below, let me share what each one meant.

We all hear follow your passion. But what does Passion mean? Eventually, I have realized it’s what brings you joy, innate satisfaction, the joy you have brought with you into this world. It can be painting, gardening, even video gaming or even coding, anything. Whatever you can immerse yourself in.

Can you always make a career out of it? Let me be honest, not always.

Not everyone has the luxury, privilege, or conducive environments to nourish their passions. Many of us are from certain socio-economic backgrounds, we grow up with responsibilities, carrying burdens all our life. We need money to survive, and our passions cannot always feed our bellies.

As a kid, I loved art and felt that it was my passion, so I quickly brought the conventional “Follow your passion” advice but pretty soon hit rock bottom when I realized I couldn’t afford Art College didn’t know about scholarships, and I ended up enrolling in the least expensive degree. But would I say, leave your passion or not follow it at all? Absolutely not! Our passions are like our placenta to our source of living, something that matters to each one of us, that connects to ourselves, to our source of being, our own inner vitality.

As Elizabeth Gilbert would say, be your own patron, pay for your art, pay yourself, give yourself the funds and grants. So yes, make a career out of whatever can allow you to also support your passion. You can be lucky enough to pursue your passion as a career but not always and that’s okay. Not every passion needs to be commodified, not all of us want to share it, it’s enough for us in our own private lives. That itself can be a blessing for some, to reduce the pressure off their passion.

The big news is, you can still have a passion, even if it isn’t your job or career. You can pursue it on the side. And if you still haven’t found it, keep looking, or keep exploring, enjoying, maybe that itself is your thing. However, then the question arises, how do you find work that you love, enjoy or at least they don’t hate and meander day after day through a joyless life.

So next up in the equation is “Purpose”. What is it that matters to you? How would you like to leave the world? It does not have to be world-changing, it can even be making your own life better than it was when you started out. As long as you can answer the “why” of whatever you are doing with complete conviction and belief, you have your purpose in place.

Why purpose? A purpose is your reason, your tightrope in the face of adversity, challenges and obstacles. When you know why you started something, you know why you must push through thick and thin. Your purpose can help you start a career; it can help you follow a path and even allow avenues to nourish your passion and hence your inner cravings.

As humans, we are always looking for something that can gratify, not just our physical senses but our mental and spiritual needs. We inherently have a prosocial nature, altruistic. People want to work for a cause, they want to work for what matters, we all want to feel like we did something that mattered.

Just ask yourself, what do you want to work for, who do you want to work for, and why do you want to work for this?

So, find your purpose or better define your purpose. And that ladies and gentlemen brings us to what we might call Success. Contrary to what we have been raised to believe all our lives that success is an accumulation of wealth, success is as arbitrary as the next word, each one of us defines her or his own success.

At the end of the day, it simply means being content with your life, where your essentials are being fulfilled whatever that may mean for you. Success is when you are mentally, physically, intellectually and spiritually satisfied. When you are meeting your needs, you are taking care of your responsibilities, you are taking care of the personal, family, and the community along with social acceptance and validation. Hence, a life well lived is blend of both passion and purpose while success only serves as a by-product.

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