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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

You don’t find your true calling – you make it happen

Find a purpose in everything you do, accepting changes as and when they come

Injecting a sense of purpose into your everyday work is the key to finding your calling
Injecting a sense of purpose into your everyday work is the key to finding your calling

“It’s been a year since I graduated from university, and I still don’t know what to do with my life,” exclaimed my friend.

In order to find her "calling", she has been immersing herself in different hobbies including painting, photography, writing and volunteering.

Purpose and life’s true calling are a point of discussion in many of my gatherings with friends, family and clients, whether they were fresh graduates or retirees. Come to think of it, everyone is looking for some sort of purpose. Many of us may feel that they have not found it, lost our passion or calling along the way, or seem to have fallen behind our peers, who seem to have figured it out.

As a person whose career and personal life has evolved multiple times during her adulthood, I can safely say many of us suffer from a misconception about purpose. We go through life waiting for fate to hand it to us on silver platter, or assume it is something that will automatically come with our job.

But in order to find one’s purpose, we need to challenge the misconceptions about it that could be blocking us.

Purpose is not something that you find

This may happen to some, as in the case of British food entrepreneur Ella Mills; she found her purpose of creating healthy clean meals after going through a tough health incident, and went on to grow her food blog into a multi-million pound business. But it does not necessarily work out that way for everyone else.

To achieve purpose in our business and career, we need to make our work, our everyday life at the office meaningful, instead of expecting our work to give it to us. For instance, doctors and nurses bear an enormous responsibility for treating us, guiding us through our tough times, and healing us so that we can continue to lead healthy lives.

If you are a fashion designer, you could think of your work not only as just designing clothes, which you sell to make money. Instead, think of the beautiful dress you make as something that gives the person wearing it a sense of confidence, which can help her excel at presentation. What you do as a business owner plays a role in the lives of your customers.

You can have multiple purposes

What many people tend to think is that purpose is one thing, and their whole lives revolves around that one thing. People like Bill Gates have dedicated their lives to their company, focused on it, developed it, and turned it into a gigantic industry that affects that lives of millions around the world. And yet people like him can have multiple other purposes. For instance, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Gates is equally dedicated to a series of other causes, including eradicating polio, a goal he's very passionate about.

For me, I am passionate about helping elevate marketing initiatives for businesses. But I also find purpose in raising awareness about autism, as well other areas including my writing and my family. Realising that we have multiple purposes relieves the pressure of trying to find a single thing that will give your life meaning. In fact, I personally find it more meaningful to have multiple purposes.

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Purposes evolve with time

You grow, your business grows, and so will your purpose. Evolution and change are parts of this growth process. We live at a time where people go through multiple career changes. I know a professional government employee who runs a food blog on the side. Then there are acquaintances who have left high-paying jobs in the financial sector to operate tech start-ups. Whether or not we go through career changes, we will definitely go through personal phases that will alter or grow our purpose, such as marriage, having children, moving to another city and so on.

The change of purpose, or the evolution and growth of it, does not mean that you have commitment problems. Because my purpose evolved with time, I initially thought I might be suffering from a career ADHD. I wondered if I got bored too easily. But I eventually came to know that evolution is only natural, and it turned out to be for my better good.

So to answer my friend's question about how you find your true calling: you don’t. Instead, you find purpose in everything that you do, accepting that your purpose will change and evolve with time.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi