From a very early age, I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I even knew that I wanted to teach English. I would often “play” school with my younger brother and sister, me the teacher, them the students. I’d give them work to do, chivvy them along if they nattered instead of doing the allotted task, and then mark their efforts with a red pen. I really was a School Ma’am! They were golden days for me. Days when I was doing something that naturally appealed to me (even if it didn’t to my siblings), something at which I felt gifted.
Later, when my siblings no longer indulged my love of school, my attention turned to the joy of reading. I always had my nose deeply buried in a book, I remember the days of Enid Blyton and The Famous Five (I always saw myself as George), then growing up and discovering Daphne Du Maurier and Thomas Hardy. I would become part of the story – to this day, I can still feel what it was like to be Tess of the D’Ubervilles.
So how come I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life as an Accountant? The traditional view of these two professions just seems so far apart. The teacher, front of class, commanding the attention of children or young adults, joining in with the painting or sand play, directing learning through lectures, role play and exercises. By contrast, the traditional view of the Accountant is someone who may be somewhat introverted, a back office type, quietly sifting through the numbers, conservatively saying no to all developments that cost money!
When I look back, I can only conclude that I ended up working in accountancy because I didn’t have a plan for my life. In fact, I didn’t even know that you could have a life plan! But it’s not that there’s anything wrong with accountancy, after all, it’s served me well these last 20 years, but over the last few years, I’ve known that something was missing. There’s been some kind of a mental shift and I needed to find that ‘something’ if I was to feel satisfied with the person I truly am.
My journey of self discovery over the last few years has been full of enthusiastic starts, followed by disastrous dead-ends; promise and potential followed by disappointment and frustration. For a while I thought I’d like to run my own accountancy business. I’d work for myself rather than be employed in the corporate world. This required huge amounts of compliance paperwork to be completed. I managed to complete the forms and even got around to submitting them, but when they were rejected – twice – I gave up, having already become jaded with the idea some months earlier.
My next major project was to work (part time) in network marketing. I actually enjoyed this work for a large part of the time I was involved with the organisation. It really is hard graft though, and, alongside a full time job plus supporting a family it became too much, so, I made the decision to move on and look for the next thing.
Over the years I have spent time trying out many new things, but then decided, for various reasons not to pursue these things any further. To the casual onlooker this might seem like failure, but I don’t see it this way. For me, each attempt at finding my passion has taught me new and valuable skills which I’ve then been able to use in other areas of my life. But, the major gain for me has been the things I’ve learned about myself. There’s no substitute for self-understanding, for knowing why we react in certain ways, and for recognising which stuff ‘ticks our boxes’ both good and bad.
So these are some of the reasons we should continue to seek out our life-passion or purpose. The process itself is a journey, not a destination. But how do we even start?
The accepted wisdom is that we should use our childhood memories as a guide to help us find our passion. As children we didn’t analyse our thoughts or comply with other peoples’ expectations of us, we just did what we liked to do. Our parents would’ve looked at our play-games and indulged our fantasies with a smile. If we pretended to drive a train, they probably would’ve bought us a train set, if we liked to draw, they would’ve bought us crayons and if we enjoyed making mud pies in the garden, they probably would’ve lent us the saucepans from the kitchen.
So are you living the life you want? Or, are you like I was, fumbling your way, trying to find your true path? Think back, and consider the clues. There might not be a direct link, but there will at least be a hint at the direction we should be considering. The path can be elusive, and you will probably make many false starts, as I did, but, when it finally appears, it’s magical! And if you’ve ever wondered how to get motivated, finding your passion is the answer…you won’t be able to get enough of it!
These days you will find me learning and improving my public speaking skills, helping people with their life goals, and here, writing on my blog. I find that I am truly inspired by human potential; I come alive when I’m speaking and I’m finally writing. In some ways I’ve come full circle. I always wanted to be a teacher, standing up in front of the class, helping to develop, inspire and educate, and here I am…finally picking up where I left off when I was about six years old.
Do any parts of this story resonate with you and do you see yourself on a journey of self-discovery? Share your thoughts and comments!
Photo: Ian Wilson