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Finding Your True North: Learning from People Who Found Their Purpose

Finding your purpose can often feel like a daunting task. 

Finding one's purpose in life is a quest as old as humanity itself. Throughout history, many individuals have embarked on this path, with some emerging victorious, finding a career they truly loved and that stood the test of time. 

Understanding the Concept of "Purpose"

In the context of a career, your purpose is the underlying essence that drives you, that urges you to pursue a particular path. It is the invisible thread that connects your passions, talents, and the larger goal of contributing meaningfully to your community.

Your purpose is not just about earning a living, but about carving out a space in the world where you can continuously grow and evolve, all while making a significant impact. It is about finding a career that not just sustains you, but nourishes your spirit, allowing you to wake up every day with a zeal to contribute your best self to the world.

To understand one's purpose, it is vital to engage in a journey of self-exploration, where you identify your strengths, your passions, and the values that resonate with you the most. Through our comprehensive online career counseling program, we guide teenagers in finding their purpose by developing a unique career plan based on their individual personality, talents, and values.

Historical Figures and Their Paths to Purpose

In history's rich canvas, we find individuals who started with humble beginnings, yet forged paths that left an indelible mark in the annals of history. Let's explore how these monumental figures discovered their purpose, turning their visions into realities that shaped our world.

Mahatma Gandhi

Originally, Gandhi embarked on a career as a lawyer. But as he witnessed the rampant injustice and discrimination prevailing in society, his inner compass guided him towards a greater purpose — to fight for justice, equality, and freedom. He transformed from a lawyer into a leader, a beacon of non-violent protests that championed the cause of civil rights. His journey teaches us the valuable lesson that sometimes, your true calling might be different from your initial choice, and it requires the courage to listen to your inner voice and take a path less trodden.

Marie Curie

Marie Curie's relentless curiosity and her unyielding passion for science propelled her towards groundbreaking discoveries in the field of physics and chemistry. Despite facing numerous hurdles, including gender bias in a male-dominated field, she became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, not once but twice. Marie Curie's story is a beacon of perseverance, teaching us that with dedication and a heart full of passion, you can overcome any obstacle and achieve greatness.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Initially, a minister, Martin Luther King Jr. found his calling in rallying against the grave injustices faced by black individuals in America. Through his powerful oratory and his firm belief in non-violent protests, he became a formidable force in the civil rights movement. His journey shows that finding your purpose often involves standing up for what is right and using your unique skills to fight for justice and create a better world for all.

Frida Kahlo

From her canvas came vivid, haunting, and striking portrayals of her inner world. Frida Kahlo turned to painting during a recovery period from a severe accident, a medium to convey her personal experiences and complex emotions. Her art became her therapy, her voice, and eventually, her purpose. Kahlo teaches us that your purpose might sometimes find you in unexpected ways, urging you to transform your trials into a beacon of inspiration for others.

Nelson Mandela

 Starting his career as a lawyer fighting against apartheid, Nelson Mandela found his greater calling in leading South Africa towards freedom and equality. His resilience and spirit through 27 years of imprisonment taught us the profound lesson that some goals are worth sacrificing everything for. His journey is one of patience, resilience, and deep commitment to justice and equality.

Mother Teresa

 Mother Teresa, originally from Albania, devoted her life to serving the sick and poor in India. Her unwavering commitment to compassion shows us the fulfillment that comes from dedicating oneself to the service of others. Through her lifelong dedication to helping others, she demonstrated that a career built on compassion and kindness could leave an everlasting impact.

Malala Yousafzai

 As a young girl, Malala championed the cause of education for girls in Pakistan, displaying courage that belied her age. After surviving a targeted attack by extremists, she amplified her advocacy on a global scale, becoming the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Malala’s journey illustrates that age is no barrier to finding one's purpose, teaching us the power of resilience and the pursuit of education.

Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz

A self-taught scholar and poet of the Baroque period, Sor Juana fought for women’s right to education. Her relentless pursuit of knowledge against all odds teaches us that the thirst for learning can help carve out a path of resistance against oppressive norms and forge a path of intellectual freedom.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 As a prolific writer, Chimamanda uses her pen to explore nuanced portrayals of African culture and feminist themes. Her literary journey shows us the power of storytelling in shedding light on diverse experiences and promoting understanding, showcasing the power of the pen in forging a career path filled with depth and understanding.

Rigoberta Menchú

 A K’iche’ Maya woman from Guatemala, Rigoberta Menchú became a prominent advocate for indigenous rights and ethnocultural reconciliation. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts, her life story teaches us the imperative of standing up for the marginalized and being a voice for the voiceless, showcasing a path of empathy and dedication to justice.

Everyday People Today and Their Paths to Purpose

Your purpose does not need to be to change the course of history; everyone can have a purpose in their work. We asked six professionals to share their personal experiences. From embarking on a journey to self-employment and helping others, to writing as a healing and fulfilling purpose, these insights shed light on the diverse paths to finding one's calling.

Journey to Self-Employment and Helping Others

I tried a variety of different jobs when I left school, determined to work hard and find something I was suited to and enjoyed. It took me a long time. 

After chopping and changing a few times, and sometimes feeling as if I was either drifting or a square peg trapped in a round hole, I knew I could not carry on like this any longer and had to change things completely. I realized that the things that mattered to me most of all were being self-employed—being my own boss was essential - just as working alone or having staff work for me was, and being in a caring role that helped people was essential. I studied, trained up, and got qualifications so that I could set up my own self-employed advisory business. 

To begin with, I worked from home and it took a long time before I was earning decent money. But it was more important to me to be helping people than to be earning a lot of money, like I had done before. Yet, I am happier than I've ever been.

Honest Holly, Agony Aunt, Agony Aunt Letters

Inspired by Legal Troubles to Become a Lawyer

I discovered my calling or life purpose after watching my dad's business get sued for $90,000 for a legal mistake that could have been easily avoided. Helping my dad navigate through that expensive lawsuit made me realize that I wanted to become a lawyer and help other entrepreneurs avoid suffering the same fate. 

So, I decided to become a lawyer, and now I get to help people every day by working on their legal issues so that they can focus on growing their business instead!

Amira Irfan, Founder and CEO, A Self Guru

Impactful Mental Health Website Unveils Purpose

Finding my calling was a journey of small, meaningful steps rather than a single "aha!" moment. What really sealed the deal was launching my mental health website. Offering a platform for candid conversations about mental well-being felt incredibly fulfilling and, more importantly, crucial in today's world.

It wasn't just about creating content; it was about facilitating change. Every article published, every story shared, it all added up to something much bigger—breaking down the stigmas surrounding mental health.

But the clincher? The feedback from our community. Hearing that our resources made someone feel less isolated or more empowered, that's when I knew I'd found my life's purpose. It confirmed that I was not just doing something beneficial but something profoundly necessary.

So, my life purpose unveiled itself not in a grand revelation, but through the meaningful impact I could make via the website. That's when I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Jacob Maslow, Owner, Rest Equation

Self-Exploration and Reflection Uncover Calling

Discovering one's calling or life purpose often involves a combination of self-exploration, experiences, and reflection. It may come from identifying activities that bring joy, aligning with personal values, and recognizing the impact one wants to make in the world. 

Exploring different interests, seeking feedback from mentors or trusted individuals, and considering the intersection of talents and passions can guide this process. It's an ongoing journey of self-discovery, introspection, and growth, which evolves as individuals learn more about themselves and their aspirations.

Aviad Faruz, CEO, Know Mastery

Discovery Through Trial and Error

It was not a cakewalk for me to find my calling or life purpose. I was 35 when I came across the idea that it was my calling. But what had I been doing until I was 35? You must be thinking, "Why so late?" I tried a lot of things to discover my life's purpose. I used to feel like I was on the earth to do only mundane tasks.

One thing that I did with determination was to keep on trying. I used to try new things and would get bored too. Oops! A calling is something you stumble upon while trying new things. Engage in different experiences, take on various projects, and try to step outside your comfort zone. Who knows where you will discover what? Keep trying new things until you uncover what resonates with you.

Consider your natural talent and strength because your calling often aligns with what you are naturally good at. In my case, I discovered my life’s purpose by trying various things. It’s not easy, though. If it was, then everyone would be happy and successful.

Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director of HR and Business, Technource

Writing as a Healing and Fulfilling Purpose

One of my life's callings is communicating through the written word. My discovery of this came through a difficult period in my life, where I wrote only to myself in order to help reduce anxiety. Over time, I found that I had developed a skill set that served others. Eventually, it became a profitable endeavor, and now I have the luxury of fulfilling my purpose throughout my workday.

Jason Vaught, Director of Content, SmashBrand


Lessons from Their Journeys

As we traverse through the lives of these individuals, it becomes evident that finding one's purpose is a deeply personal and evolving journey. Their paths were far from linear, with each of them experiencing doubts, hurdles, and transformative moments that eventually led them to their true calling.

Through their narratives, we learn the importance of self-belief and perseverance. We understand that leveraging one's skills and passions for a greater cause can not only bring personal fulfillment but also leave a lasting impact on society.

We learn that being open to change, adaptable, and ready to evolve with the experiences life throws at us is an essential aspect of nurturing one's purpose. Their lives are testament to the fact that when you align your career with your deeper purpose, the journey becomes as remarkable as the destination, filled with learning, growth, and profound satisfaction.

Applying These Lessons to Your Career Journey

How do we then apply these life lessons to our own career journeys? It starts with a deep reflection on what truly drives us. What are those inner inklings and talents that have always been a part of you? It involves not just looking at what jobs are available, but asking deeper questions — what can I offer to the world? How can I use my unique skills to make a meaningful contribution?

At Careers That Matter, we walk this journey with you, guiding you through a meticulously crafted program to help you uncover your true potential. Just like the historical figures we discussed, we believe that every individual, including you, holds a special place in the world, ready to forge a path brimming with purpose and fulfillment.

We encourage teenagers to nurture their curiosity, to explore different avenues, and to be willing to discover and learn continually. Our guidance is grounded in case studies of hundreds of individuals who have crafted successful and meaningful careers, reinforced with academic research and deep industry experience.

Finding your purpose is not a sprint but a marathon that you do not have to do it alone. At "Careers That Matter," we are here to guide you every step of the way, helping you grow into a career that you truly love, a career that not just meets the demands of the future, but resonates with your inner self, allowing you to make a substantial contribution to your community.

We invite you to take the bold step towards finding your true north. Sign up to the Careers That Matter program for career counselling and guidance that promises not just a job, but a journey where you carve out a path filled with purpose, passion, and personal fulfillment. Let us help you turn your dreams into reality, guiding you towards a career where every morning you wake up with enthusiasm and a heart full of purpose.

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Careers That Matter provides online programs to teenagers across the globe. The organisation is based in Melbourne Australia. We have students from across Australia including Sydney, NSW 2000, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Perth, WA 6000, Adelaide, SA 5000, Hobart, TAS 7000, Canberra, ACT 2600, Darwin, NT 0800. We also take students from The United Kingdom including London, Europe, and the United States including New York , Canada, New Zealand including Auckkland and Wellington, and Asia including Singapore and Malaysia.