I agree. I do love the idea of finding your “calling” or purpose, but I think that it only reveals itself slowly over the course of a lifetime, for many of us.
It is also a bit much to expect everyone to fully align their career and purpose. The reality is that sometimes a purpose is personal and doesn’t overlap with work.
I’ve always been jealous of folks who seem to have discovered their purpose at a very young age, and it lines up with how they make a living. My life has been a very different experience of self discovery.
What I’ve discovered is that I had to think about my long term goals for my lifestyle first. Where did I want to live, if I could fully choose that location with no constraints? How did I want to spend my days, if no one else controlled my time? Who would I love to work with, if I was in complete control of my choice of colleagues? Etc, etc.
Then, I worked backwards from that ideal end state to explore career path options that would enable that lifestyle. So, it was less about finding a purpose working forward from my existing established career, and more about working backwards to define a new meaningful career that aligned with my ideal life.
In some ways, this made the decisions easier. Only a few options would enable how I’m living now. But, of course, the challenge was creating something new from a cold start. Every path has its unique pain and trade offs! But, it’s worth it if you end up with what matters the most to you.