Finding purpose and direction

Have you ever found yourself feeling a little lost? Floating along aimlessly, or even stuck, without flow? It takes time to find our individual forte or fortes. Many of us live in a society in which we are figuratively pushed from a young age to find what we are going to do in life. As children, we're asked, 'What do you want to do when you're older?' Apart from maybe an astronaut, the most common answer is usually 'I don't know.'


It can be hard to know what we truly want when there are so many other factors influencing our choices. Money, academia, prestige, ability and reputation are just a few. But what would you do if all that were stripped away? Just you, with endless possibilities ahead?

I challenge you to imagine your perfect day. Not in terms of work or money, just a start-to-finish day that's your absolute ideal. We can dream as big as we like. I find that mine surprises me in its simplicity - a lazy lie-in, a big pot of coffee and a tasty, healthy breakfast, a walk in the sunshine, a chat with a good friend, some cuddles and a movie to finish off. I also find I want to do some activity in there, whether that's the laundry, gardening or building something or learning a new skill. 

Life is a journey, you set yourself a destination but find other things along the way

Whatever we imagine, this visualisation can help us to see what's really important to us in life, what we'd find ourselves doing naturally if no one was telling us what to do. What we are self-motivated towards, what we do for the sheer joy of it. This links into the Japanese concept of Ikigai, which I regularly use to help both myself and my clients find purpose and direction. 

Ikigai, put simply, is the union of

  1. What you love
  2. What you're good at
  3. What the world needs
  4. What you can get paid for

Passion, vocation, mission, profession.

For a simple example, let's say you love food. And you're good at cooking. Everyone needs to eat. Hey, you could be a chef! It seems so obvious when put like that, but it took me so long to wake up to my calling to be a counsellor. I loved listening to people, and people told me that they found it helpful to talk to me. I realised that with mental health being discussed more than ever, people were seeking people to talk to, so I trained as a counsellor and now here I am!

But it doesn't necessarily stop there. I don't believe we all have to do just one thing. My mother always says "Life is a journey, you set yourself a destination but find other things along the way". 

You might think you want to be a chef but discover you don't like working in kitchens. Mum would say that wasn't a bad thing. In going for it, you learned something about yourself along the way, helping you to get closer to the life you do want to live. 

What I'm trying to say, is that even if your perfect-day visualisation doesn't conjure anything particularly vivid, then why not try as many things as you like to see which one(s) suit you? If it doesn't suit, that's one step closer to finding what does, as well as the knowledge and experience you gained from doing so.

And life doesn't have to be about having one singular passion - though it's great if you do - we can experience the many realms that life has to offer by trying them and changing them up if they don't fit us.

I've gone from writing about food to editing a magazine, to gardening to permaculture lifestyle in Spain, to corporate academia to charity organisations, to becoming a step-parent and becoming a mother. Each of those experiences has helped me become the person I am today, and I don't doubt that life will bring many more that shape and surprise me.

There's no shame in not knowing what you want to do, trying on different lifestyles, or not having found your forte yet. As cliché as it might sound, I encourage you to think about what makes you happy and to follow your heart.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Sandbach CW11 & Newcastle ST5
Written by Ellie Belfield, Msc Counselling & Psychotherapy, MBACP Registered
Sandbach CW11 & Newcastle ST5

Ellie Belfield is a therapist, mama & flower enthusiast who is passionate about helping others along their paths. She has written for the Permaculture Research Insitute and has a Master of Science in Counselling & Psychotherapy.

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