This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.
Most people, in my experience, don’t take the time to think about what fuels them, what guides them and what they were put on this planet to achieve. Life has a way of keeping us distracted and focused only on the moment. Day after day and week after week, many people go to work without much thought of anything else.
But I think we are built to do so much more than simply survive; we are built to thrive and build a life that we love, not just make a living. One of the true joys in my work is helping clients find their “North Star” — their true calling in life.
Finding your North Star helps you live with purpose, and it gives you a reference point to keep you moving in the right direction. It doesn’t mean that life isn’t still challenging. Of course, we all have our ups and downs. But when you’re living with purpose, it’s much easier to stay on track and weather the storms that come I want you to know the joy of discovering your North Star, your unique calling. Here are four important questions to help you do that:
1. What are the gifts that make you unique?
These might be skills that you don’t use very often in your daily life or even skills that nobody knows about besides you.
Are you a gifted listener or a skilled problem-solver who is able to put together any puzzle? Are you fluent in multiple languages? Are you uniquely gifted at connecting with people in conversation? Are you an entertaining and confident public speaker? Connecting with your unique giftings will offer an important clue into your true calling in life.
2. What are the dreams that speak to your soul?
What gets you motivated and inspired? What are the causes and beliefs that will get you out of bed in the morning, rain or shine, fired-up and ready to go?
I’ve worked with many gifted professionals who are most passionate about causes and beliefs that don’t directly tie into their daily work. And what I’ve helped them do, rather than ignore their dreams, is to find a way to tie their work into the causes that inspire them. Sometimes that means volunteering their time. Other times it means serving on the board of an organization or finding a way to shift their focus and attract paying clients in the area that they’re most passionate about.
As an example, I included a story in my recent book about a lawyer who has always been passionate about the arts. For years she volunteered her time pro bono in support of the art community. Then, lo and behold, a prestigious art museum had an opening for in-house counsel. This attorney was the obvious choice due to her years of investment in that community, and she got the job. She’s working full-time for a cause that she truly believes in.
So how about you? What causes and dreams are you most passionate about?
3. What type of work gets you the most excited?
Now think about the day-to-day work you do to earn a living. Even if you don’t love your job, there was probably something that attracted you to that field to begin with. What was it?
Is there a specific type of client you like to serve or a specific type of project you enjoy taking on? Identifying the work that fuels you will lead you toward your North Star.
4. How has your past uniquely shaped you for the future?
Finally, how has your past prepared you to make an impact in the future? Are there unique challenges that you faced as a child? Are you perhaps passionate about giving back to kids who face those same challenges today? Or, perhaps you grew up in a different part of the country (or even the world) and you’re passionate about helping the people in your former home to improve their lives.
I have clients who have overcome physical and emotional challenges in their lives, and they now find deep meaning in helping others overcome those same challenges.
Although it’s not always the case, I’ve seen that sometimes the journey that life has taken you on can set the stage for your next act. How have you been shaped by your past?
Remember: The only opinion that matters is yours.
Sometimes, as you begin to dream big dreams, you’ll face resistance. People might tell you, “That’s not how it’s done,” “You could never do that,” or “You have to choose between making a living and chasing your dreams.”
But let me tell you: they’re wrong. I believe you can have it all. You can build a meaningful life and still meet your financial goals. It’s your life, not theirs. Don’t live your life based on the expectations of others. As novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
So, go find your North Star.