Discovering a career path was not an easy journey for me; let’s just say that I struggled. An idea for a career would suddenly enter my mind and then just as abruptly make its exit. To illustrate what it felt like, we might imagine Clint Eastwood’s character in Dirty Harry, saying, “Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?” To “get lucky” would mean that I had been fortunate enough to fall into the right career. The frustrating situation was always lingering in the back of my mind. It was made even worse by well-intentioned friends and family members that shared that they thought I had the potential to do anything I desired—given a concentrated focus.
For years after high school, I worked at a variety of jobs that ranged from carpentry to insulating homes, to working on farms—all for minimum wage. I was living proof that without a vision, the people perish. I had the intuitive feeling that I was capable of more, but what was that? Thank goodness that I was interested in travel; for that at least opened my previously limited view of the world. Finally, due to circumstances that seemed to push me out of the old and toward the new, I chose the career of working as a paramedic.
Back then, in 1982, the course was called AEMC, defined as “Ambulance and Emergency Care.” We were called ambulance attendants or more often “drivers” by the general public who had little idea of our responsibilities or the pressures related to the career. I realized within the first two weeks of classes for the one-year college course involved in training, that Dirty Harry had spun his gun’s revolver and that it had clicked upon a loaded chamber. Other students were enthusiastically talking about their last “ride out” with working paramedics and sharing what they learned. That was not I. After graduating from the course (because I felt that I must), I worked in the career for just shy of thirty-six years.
During the years of my career, I pursued my love of writing and made countless submissions to a multitude of publishers. If a submission returned with a polite rejection note, I doubled my efforts and sent out two in its place. I know now, however, that what was sorely lacking was my “belief” in the vision of already being a published author. To be successful in any career, we must possess that unshakeable “knowing” that our goal is—not will be—achieved. I didn’t know; I hoped.
My intention in writing this article is to share the importance of finding your “Why” for a career, as opposed to settling for your “Getting By” reason. Although I’m proud of the level of care that I brought to my years of service as a paramedic, I am fully aware that the career was never my passion. Writing was the career that lighted my heart afire; the reason why I would get up early and stay up late—to experience the joy of expressing myself through the written word. There were stories to be told and points to be shared; all with the desire of enriching, enlightening, or entertaining readers.
The take-away from this article: If you’re struggling to find your purpose in life, give yourself some time to discover your “Why.” Make that a priority.
What’s your purpose? Why are you here? What gifts do you have to share that are unique to you?
In short, find the reason that makes your heart sing—the one that you are happy to hum day after day. Although I’m not saddened that my life included the career path it did (for I believe that all lessons learned serve a purpose), I politely urge anyone in a similar situation to dig deep and discover your passion. When we do, everyone benefits. We will then, in fact, be a joy to the world.