Below is the second post I wrote, more than seven years ago. Back then I was questioning what my passion in life was, what my purpose was. Well, now I’m 64 years old, and I don’t think I’m any closer to discovering my purpose and passion than I was back in 2015.
I am still energized by my teaching, it is a joy working with such highly motivated young people. But I just don’t know if that is what I was meant to do (how many kids grow up wanting to be an accounting teacher?) I mention my wife in the post as someone who seems like she was meant to be a teacher. Blogging has exposed me to a few others who seem to be the same way (Beth, Pete, and Jennie, for example). It seems like teaching is in their blood; I don’t know if I can say the same thing.
When I look at the jobs I mentioned in the post below that I would be interested in after I retire from Villanova (nurse, paramedic, math tutor/teacher, swim coach, starting an online business, or working in customer service at a hotel/resort) I realize I am still interested in a few of those – swim coach, customer service (Marriott perhaps), and starting an online business, whereas the others are less appealing at this point. I did start preparing for the math teacher possibility by taking five math classes at Villanova over the past few years. But once the courses were at night and they weren’t exactly what I was looking for, I dropped about midway through my sixth class and rethought my priorities. I have also added a couple of new possibilities: writer, YouTube creator, professional movie streamer/bum.
So now I wonder if I will ever find my passion. Will I still be asking the same questions seven years from now?
I would have thought by now, at the age of 57, that I would have found my life’s passion. But if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I still don’t know what my purpose in life is, what I am meant to do.
I’ve read lots of great books, followed several inspirational blogs, and watched some motivational videos on personal development and finding your passion (see the list below), but I feel that I am no closer to figuring out my purpose in life despite the powerful messages contained in these books, blogs, and videos.
When I come upon the often-cited challenge of “what would you do if money were no object”, I have no answer.
And I am not resistant to change; I left corporate America in my mid-20s after I realized I didn’t want to spend the next 40 years of my life doing such work and decided to pursue a career in academia instead. Several years later, in part motivated by many of the books listed below, I decided to start my own business and ran it for close to four years (as noted in yesterday’s blog, an unprofitable, but valuable learning experience), but I realized that such a venture was not quite what I was looking for.
So where does that leave me? While I believe my work as a teacher has meaning and enjoy such work, I still do not think it is my “calling” in life. When I look at the work my wife does as a teacher, it is clear to me that she has found her calling, her purpose in life, and her young students benefit tremendously from the passion and love she brings to her job. I just do not feel the same way. When I listen to Steve Jobs speech in which he says that if you wake up too many days in a row and answer no to the question, “is what you are about to do what you want to do for the rest of your life”, then it is time to change. I often answer no to such a question; the problem is – what do I do instead?
And please don’t get me wrong. I am quite happy with my life, and consider myself one of the most optimistic people I know. Sometimes I think that maybe reading these types of books and blogs and watching motivational videos, is part of the problem. That ignorance is bliss, and that perhaps there is not something else out there that I should be doing.
But then I think that maybe it is the search for meaning that is important and that perhaps that is my purpose in life, to keep looking for my passion.
As I get closer to my planned retirement from teaching (only about 8 years away), I find myself thinking more and more about what I would like to do with the next stage of my life. Some ideas I have flirted with include becoming a nurse, a paramedic, a math tutor/teacher, a swim coach, starting an online business, or working in customer service at a hotel/resort. Having several years before I will begin such pursuits gives me the opportunity to develop the skills needed for any of these positions. One thing I do know is that whatever path I choose, there will be a significant service component to it. For example, teaching math at a low-income elementary school seems quite appealing to me since I believe that such work has meaning and makes a difference.
In the meantime, using the closing words from Steve Jobs’s speech, I’ll continue to “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.
Thanks for reading, and below is a list of some of my favorite inspirational books, blogs, and videos, along with helpful links to each item on the list (NOT Amazon links!).
Books I’ve read:
Strengths Finder 2.0
What Color Is Your Parachute?
The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything
Man’s Search for Meaning
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Awaken the Giant Within
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
The Power of Less
Start Something That Matters
The Four Agreements
Way of the Peaceful Warrior
The Icarus Deception (the best book I’ve read in decades!)
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.
There are also a few books I look forward to reading this year:
There are also a few websites I’ve read over the years that often focus on personal development, passion, and happiness:
*image from Meredith Wilson