How to Pick Your Profession
When I was 22-years-old, I abruptly quit my teaching job and decided to try my hand at telephone sales. I had a strong desire to give office life a try, and I was tempted by the lure of Manhattan, as I wanted to be one of the women I saw on the train, the ones wearing pencil skirts and pumps. I wanted to be polished and professional, and so, feeling a pull to take a job selling advertisements for a pharmaceutical magazine, I took a substantial pay cut, got a room mate to makeup the difference in salary, and thought, What the hell? It'll all work itself out.
And of course, it did. It always does. I fell in love with a colleague, quit sales not too long after, moved to Pennsylvania (and then back to New York), and my life has led me down a series of paths, each one making sense only in retrospect. In hindsight, I needed to take a respite from teaching to find my way back to it, and there was someone I needed to meet, who I wouldn't have had I not taken the sales job. While the world teaches that there's one clear and direct path we must take with regards to picking and planning our careers, that it's a straight road, from undergrad, to graduate school, to entry-level position, followed by a series of promotions that lead to our ultimate happiness, that's just not true, not even a little.
There isn't one clear path, even if you feel like you're seeking it out so desperately, and you may not even have one burning passion that you've held since childhood. The truth is that you were born with is a loose blueprint, such as: to express yourself creatively using art, to extend well-being and love to others, to teach and uplift, to channel, to connect people, to build and create, etc.; the truth is that there are many paths you can choose to satisfy this blueprint, so, for example, if you feel called to build and create, potentially, you could move to Silicon Valley and work for a start-up tech company; you could open a coffee shop; you could become an online entrepreneur, or you could partner up with an inventor and help bring his product into the world. While the world tells the story that everyone is born with one single passion that he has to find, this is a myth. We are born with multiple passions and a loose blueprint that can be used to serve multiple paths.
The idea that there is one great passion that we must discover and cultivate can bring about a lot of stress. People wander around asking, But how do I know what to do? They want the process of picking a profession to be similar to that of playing with an 8 ball, and the truth is, that it's not so far off. Part of the process is asking: Dear God/Dear Universe, what would you have me do? and then getting quiet, either by sitting in meditation, or out in nature, and listening to your intuitive guidance.
However, oftentimes, the path we must take is not direct. You'll get an impulse to apply for a job at a coffee shop, which will lead to your meeting someone, with whom you will fall in love; three years later, you will meet their aunt Betty, who will bring you to a ceramics class, awakening your creativity and sparking within you a desire to start making pottery. You will begin studying with a ceramics artist, and eventually, begin making your own pottery. That won't really take off (as far as real-world success is concerned), as many people won't purchase your ceramics, but years later, because of your love of useful art, you'll open a small shop that sells beautiful kitchen supplies and housewares; and that will take off! Your business will become a staple in the community, and you'll have ample customers who love your products, but you would have never gotten to that point, had you not decided to apply for a job at the coffee shop.
The key is: You must follow the pull of your heart in any moment and be willing to change, adapt, redirect, and go where life leads you, because life will lead you to the most unexpected of places; you will fall in love, have children, get sick, have family members get sick, move, feel inspired, go through slumps, and shift your perspective on life, as well as your very identity.
In order to follow your dream, you must hold loosely to your dream, letting it take on new shapes and forms as you learn, grow, and shift in life. You must let go of the idea of one path and be willing to embark on many. You must be willing to let go of the limiting belief that we are all born with one singular passion and unless we find it at 19-years-old, we're doomed to work in a cubicle and feel dissatisfied for life. Don't buy into that model of thinking. Instead, consider your profession as a serpentine path with limitless branches and possibilities. Through exploration, a willingness to be flexible, and a mindfulness practice, you will be led to the exact people, places, and opportunities that will lead to your next step. You'll open up to life, allowing it to surprise you and take you places you never would have dreamt. You'll feel a renewed excitement as you let go of one dream and learn, instead, to be flexible and open to playing with the idea of many dreams, or making changes in your career that you never could have imagined.
Sure, it would feel safer (and it might even make your parents happier) to pick a clear path with a direct route, such as deciding to become a doctor, which would entail applying to medical school and then procuring a position at a hospital, but the safe route isn't always the route that will bring you the most joy. It's in the unfolding of your ever-evolving passions that will lead you to live a life filled with wonder and expansion. It's when you will allow yourself to adopt a loose mindset, one that is open to everything and rejects nothing, that will bring you true happiness, because that's when you'll be living in the present moment; that's when you'll take inspired action and learn how to follow the callings of your heart.
Listen to your heart when it pulls to you take a class, go to a community event, start a new hobby, blog, or website. It may feel like that small step won't lead you anywhere, but it's by listening to your intuition, (which will sound more like a whisper, a nudge, rather than a beckoning voice) that will start you on your path. Your only job is to work on releasing limiting beliefs you picked up from others, stick to a daily mindfulness or spiritual practice that will allow you to tap into your intuitive nature (your gut instinct), and devote time each day to do what inspires you, be it writing, working on a website, or studying to earn a degree. With a continued commitment to let life unfold and the discipline to hone your craft (whatever it may be), you will find that you will always get an inkling as to the next right step, and you will never feel lost.