Q: Dear Marcus, I saw you on The Oprah Show and was fascinated with the joy that these women started to live with after you helped them define who and what they were meant to do or be. I really need your help. After some deep reflection of my life, I realized that I have been living on autopilot for the past four years. I am leaning toward the healthcare field, but I am so undecided on whether I am moving in the right direction or if this a safe move. I want to be fully living, and the only way to do that is to know my purpose. Every day I have been asking, "What is my purpose?" and I have been grappling with the answers. I have so many interests, which makes matters worse. I took your test and my role is advisor, which is on the mark—at work or with family I am always sought after for advice. My supporting role is creative. I would like to do something creative, but I always get close to it and not quite there because I just wasn't giving the opportunity in the past. In four years, I will be 40 and I am still moved to tears that I don't know the answer to the question. Please help me.
— Maria, age 36
A: Maria, advisors can make excellent healthcare professionals because they tend to be good at things that patients need: Advisors ask lots of questions; they love being able to provide expertise; they are demanding and never settle for "good enough" but always look to improve things; and they are confident and decisive when they are asked for guidance. So, you're looking for purpose, and your sights are set on the healthcare field. Since purpose is so important to you (as it is to all of us, really), the first question to ask is: "Does the purpose of healthcare fulfill me?" It may seem like a silly question: What could be a nobler purpose than helping people to get well and stay well? The truth is, though, that there are plenty of people who simply aren't invigorated by that purpose. That's not cold, or heartless, or wrong. It's just the way things are. So—does the purpose of the healthcare field really speak to you, or is the attraction simply that healthcare has such a well-defined purpose, whether it appeals to you or not? There's a big difference there.
Beyond that question, you'll only really know whether healthcare is the right field for you when you figure out whether the tasks you'll be performing continually are tasks that you love to do. If you love advising people but can't stand the sight of blood, for instance, then being a surgeon or a phlebotomist is probably not for you. You haven't specified what field you're currently working in, but I also suspect that, although you have been on autopilot, you didn't land in that field entirely by accident. There were some elements of the work that drew you in. Which things still manage to get your attention a little more fully, even though you may be bored overall? Which things can you simply not stand? Can you envision parallels in the healthcare field to those activities you love doing now? Examining what you have done and what you're currently doing is always the best clue as to what you should do in the future.
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