4 Ways to Follow Your Inner Compass

Instead of asking what you should do, consider who you want to be.

yanik88 / Adobestock

As a child I spent several years living in the Philippines, where I learned to speak Tagalog. The language contains a beautiful expression for work, hanapbuhay, which literally translates to “the search for life.” I’ve always liked thinking about work this way: an inward journey to discover the things that make you feel most alive, and making those your work.

At some point during childhood, a well-meaning adult asks, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?” What I like about this question is that it embraces the idea that work is an expression of who you are as well as who you want to be. Yet that question takes an odd turn when you become an adult. “What do you do for a living?” is what we typically ask each other. Gone is the inquiry about what you aspire to “be.” This shift in emphasis from “being” to “doing” focuses you solely on the external activities and behaviors that you perform for your work, rather than on your intrinsic values, strengths, and motivations.

“Most of us think too much about what we should do and not enough about what we should be,” said the 14th-century mystic…