I never dreamed I’d be 30 years old, living full-time on the other side of the world in Bali, working online, and earning more money than I ever made working on Wall Street by helping people from five different continents do deep healing work and be brave enough to live their true calling.
No, that can’t actually be real. That’s a joke.
I had the idea that I’d be married by now, holding a PhD, and working as a therapist who sits her clients on couches in her office in New York City.
I thought I’d have kicked the travel bug by now and would have settled for doing well by conventional standards.
Nope, life has its way of unfolding—either ramming you hard into a dead end so you wake up and pivot in the direction of your highest good, or slowly guiding you onto a path that’s more magical than you could have imagined if you’re willing to surrender to its greater wisdom.
Most of us get a bit of both. And I choose to lead my life with a conscious balance of active lifestyle design and spiritual surrender.
I often get asked: “Wow, Elaina, you’ve made a living doing what you love. How did you know your purpose? When did it become clear to you?” so I’m going to answer this for you now.
As a kid, I always said I wanted to be a psychologist when I grow up.
After I sat my first 10-day Vipassana silent meditation retreat in India, the biggest takeaway I got was that I needed to teach personal growth and do healing work.
When I was working in corporate, I’d always go home and devour personal development books instead of sticking around for happy hour. I was fascinated by how these experts helped other people become more self-aware, happy, and successful. I myself needed to become a lot more self-aware, happy, and successful.
As a traveler, I spent years living in countries like Ethiopia, Mongolia, and Guyana, unintentionally removed from the influences of mainstream American society, sometimes the only foreigner in a Malawian village.
In addition to providing me the adventurous life my free spirit craved, it gave me lots of time to think for myself. I tuned out Western media, movies, and general brainwashing noise.
I cite these examples because they help you see that my inner knowing was there all along. I always knew the essence of what I was here to do.
And you do, too. I promise you, it’s in there.
You just need to do two things:
1. Give yourself space to hear the all-knowing voice inside you tell you what your purpose is; and
2. Make a fierce commitment to it.
Usually it’s the second part that’s hard.
Because you probably know what it is you’re here to do, but what’s getting in the way is the voice that speaks back and says, “Oh no, don’t be silly, you can’t do that. You’re not even good at that,” or, “But that doesn’t make money. You can’t base your whole life around that.”
This is what I call the inner conflict. It can be so unconscious and so subtle that it has drowned out the inner knowing for your whole life until now.
Your job is to hear both—to hear the inner knowing and witness the inner conflict.
Then do something you probably haven’t intentionally done yet: decide to commit to the purpose.
This is the actual work. People think it’s figuring out what your purpose is, but the real work is staying committed to it.
In my case, once I had worked through the inner conflict around my purpose:
“Who am I to do personal development work as my career? Who do I think I am? People will think that’s fluffy or unimportant or they’ll laugh at me trying to do that,” then I started to experiment with what that might look like. I learned through action, not thinking or writing up different plans. I simply did different projects and followed what was exciting.
>> I wrote a blog about my own personal growth journey.
>> I did career coaching for a while, but that felt too surface-level for me. I wanted to work with people on their deepest desires and hardest struggles.
>> I was a freelance writer, but that didn’t pay the bills and it caged my genius up by forcing it to perform for someone else.
>> I tried teaching yoga and doing Reiki healing, but I felt drained every time I did it, and it also didn’t make a sustainable living.
>> I moved into business mentoring for other entrepreneurs and really loved seeing how what came easily to me—strategy and structure and planning—helped visionaries ground their ideas into real businesses that supported them outside of a corporate model.
>> I started doing mindfulness coaching and helping people break free of old patterns and limiting beliefs, heal broken relationships, and totally reinvent themselves. That really lit me up!
In my case, I wasn’t afraid to put myself out there and try new things and learn from my direct experience of those projects. When I felt excited and lit up and when people seemed to really benefit from what I was doing, I kept going.
It wasn’t always easy.
I actually got fired from my last international role at Uber, which was a huge failure and disaster in my eyes after five-plus years on the corporate track. I cried for a week straight.
I worked as a matchmaker and dating coach to pay the bills for the first two years I traveled the world after getting the boot from my steady paycheck. Not ideal, but I was so motivated by my vision for my life as an entrepreneur and world-traveller that I did whatever it took.
One year, I worked five different part-time jobs while I paid an expensive business mentor to teach me how to build a sustainable coaching business.
People would see me on social media living in Berlin or India or Bali and not see the hard work and hustle behind the scenes that my commitment to my purpose required.
But that’s just it: I was committed. I still am.
My purpose is to write, to inspire others, to heal, and to help people change their lives. I refuse to compromise that, because if I don’t do that stuff, I die a little every day. And I’m here to come alive, not walk around already dead before I’m buried eight feet underground.
You have that same thing inside of you. Something that if you don’t do it, you’re already dead.
Your purpose is to make sure your raw genius and creative drive, which needs to be expressed and shared with the world, comes out no matter what.
Design a life that gives yourself the space, energy, time, and freedom to express and stay committed to your genius. This is the ultimate recipe for you to feel purposeful and fulfilled—and to have the greatest impact possible.