According to a January 2021 Pew Research Center survey of 715 unemployed, furloughed, or temporarily laid off adults in the United States who are looking for work, 66 percent said they have seriously considered changing careers completely. And that makes a lot of sense. While it can be presumed that many folks are interested in a career shift in order to find sustainable work period, especially after being laid off or furloughed amid the pandemic, some may be considering the prospect of making a career change to live more in alignment with their purpose.
With this in mind, the concept of living your purpose—known in Sanskrit as your dharma, which has roots in multiple religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, and also Ayurveda—applies. That said, for many, the challenge of actually discovering that purpose remains. Below, Sahara Rose, host of the Highest Self Podcast, Ayurveda expert, and author of Discover Your Dharma, breaks down what dharma is and then offers five steps for how to discover your dharma.
What is dharma?
“The word dharma is an ancient Sanskrit word that refers to your soul’s purpose—the big reason why you are here,” Sahara says. “And it’s not just what you do, but how you do it, and why you do it. Your dharma is not a career, or a project, or a certain role you play. It’s the unique vibration that your soul carries to everything that you do and every way that you are.” For instance, someone’s dharma can be to bring beauty to the world, and how they do it can look in so many different ways, such as through being an artist, an interior designer, or a hairstylist.
“Your dharma is not a career, or a project, or a certain role you play. It’s the unique vibration that your soul carries to everything that you do and every way that you are.” —Sahara Rose, Ayurveda expert
If you’re not living your dharma, Sahara says you may experience feelings of being stuck—like you’re taking action, but not really moving forward. The future doesn’t excite you. You’re surviving rather than thriving. This, she says, can be accompanied by feelings of anxiety, depression, unworthiness, or just feeling off. When you are living your dharma, Sahara says, you experience feelings of satisfaction with the way you are expressing and sharing your unique gifts, and you know you’re touching the lives you are meant to touch.
How to discover your dharma
According to Sahara, the first step for how to discover your dharma is realizing that it’s not something outside of you that you have to find but rather something you remember. “You were born with your purpose,” she says. “It’s just that we’ve forgotten. We’ve gone to school and been conditioned and had different goals and expectations placed upon us by society. It’s more of a de-conditioning, unraveling, and unlearning. The more you can let go of everything you are not, the more you can remember who you are. It’s already inside of you.”
With that in mind, keep reading for Sahara’s intel about how to discover your dharma in five steps and live in better accordance with your soul’s unique purpose.
1. Discover your dharma archetype
We all have different roles or archetypes that we embody that we activate within us, Sahara says. For example, your archetype can be a teacher, artist, entrepreneur, entertainer, or visionary. Discover your top archetypes via a short quiz. Sahara says that knowing which archetypes are your most dominant can serve as a permission slip to fully step into those roles.
2. Notice the mediums that come naturally to you
The mediums that you most naturally express yourself through is another key element of your dharma, Sahara says. Maybe it’s writing, speaking, creating art, or something else. To help you get clear on yours, Sahara recommends grabbing a journal and writing out what mediums you most enjoy, and to get really specific. For example, if you enjoy speaking, introspect about whether you prefer speaking in front of large groups, on stage, or in front of a camera. All these details provide clues about your dharma.
3. Realize the obstacles you’ve overcome
“These obstacles you’ve overcome are your soul’s unique curriculum,” Sahara says. “This is exactly what you can then share with others.” Obstacles can include health issues, going through a divorce, experiencing feelings of uncertainty, or moving around a lot as a kid and learning how to make friends. Sahara notes that obstacles can also include things you’ve helped others overcome—and no obstacle is too big or small.
4. Pay attention to what excites you
The things that excite you, Sahara says, are like breadcrumbs that guide you towards your dharma. She recommends writing out a list of all the things that make you happy—things you find yourself googling late at night, topics you love talking about or learning about. Then start to categorize them and notice any patterns.
5. Find your superpower
According to Sahara, we all have superpowers, but often it’s difficult to recognize them because they come so easily to us. Examples of superpowers include making people feel seen and heard, having Marie Kondo-level organization skills, or hosting the most beautiful dinner parties. To help pinpoint your superpowers, Sahara recommends asking friends and family members what they think you’re naturally really good at and where you shine brightest.