I believe that life is a journey, not a destination. I’ve always loved journeys – they represent adventure, challenge, novelty, delight, discovery, insight, identity, planning, spontaneity, even sometimes, disappointment. From Sunday drives to week-long summer vacations, getting there was always as much fun as the destination.
Journeys also represent our passage through life. As children, we try out many concepts of who we’ll be when we grow up, and some of us find our path early. Others, like me, keep seeking new possibilities as we travel through our lives.
As a young woman dissatisfied with the career I fell into after college, I read “What Color is Your Parachute?” and discovered that I was not alone. Many people fall into careers based on expectations from parents, recommendations by teachers, or simply by happenstance. Like me, they find themselves tolerating work, looking forward to the end of the workday or weekends to do what they really want to do.
I began a quest to discover my mission in life. Joseph Campbell calls this process “the “hero’s journey of self-discovery.” He went on to advise, “Follow your bliss. When you follow your bliss…doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else.” Following my bliss has proved to be a remarkable journey full of confusion and insight, opportunities lost and found, roadblocks and unexpected doorways. After 30 years, I am still discovering new ways to pursue my mission, which is to help other people discover their missions in life.
I know that I’m at my best when I honor my passion. I’ve experienced joy, excitement and productivity when I am pursuing my mission. My energy and creativity become engaged and I live in a state of flow – fully immersed in what I am doing and feeling energized, focused, involved and successful. Sometimes I’ve had to be very creative in order to find a way to pursue my passion, and sometimes I’ve had to call on great courage to try a new approach that seems impossible at first. Occasionally I’ve had to compromise and call on courage and will to make the best of the situation.
I’ve encouraged my children to find their passions and pursue them, and as a parent, have done my best to support their quests. Both are now adults and have begun to explore the world. They’ve each traveled and lived abroad and are pursuing their interests and passions in their careers. Both have an expanded world view and confidence in themselves that comes in part from their physical travels, but also from their willingness to take on the hard work of pursuing their dreams.
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.” We all can shape our journeys through life by keeping our passions, strengths, values and goals in mind, always asking whether this next plan will take us closer or farther away from achieving our missions in life.