‘Find your passion’ and ‘follow your purpose’. These messages are emblazoned all over social media these days. You’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone around you knew what their passions were and had a clear idea of their purpose. With the pandemic prompting so many people to reevaluate what they do for a living, the pressure to ‘find your purpose’ has never been higher.
If you are an extremely talented and hard working sportsperson, actor, musician, or chef, then ‘doing what you love’ may be advice that makes sense. But not all of us have that one thing that we choose to excel in and make our life’s work.
I spent a long time feeling ‘less than’ and stuck for not knowing my ‘purpose’.
Truthfully a few years ago I didn’t even know for sure what I did or didn’t like. Never mind have a clear passion.
I tackled this mystery of my ‘purpose’ from all angles: I read a gazillion books, binge-listened to all the podcasts, took up meditation, journalling, hired expensive life-coaches, completed various online programmes, and spoke to therapists.
I got nowhere. So, you are not alone if you feel stuck and frustrated. You know you have more to give and want to do something different with your professional life. But all this pressure of ‘finding your purpose’ can leave you stuck and paralysed, worried that whatever you decide to pursue will be the wrong decision and could cost you money and precious time.
What to do when you don’t know your purpose:
My lightbulb moment came when I shifted my thinking. I heard best selling author and speaker Rory Vaden on Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness Podcast and it stopped me in my tracks. I realised I had been focussing on me, me, me. So I paused and let all the ‘me-focussed’ thinking go. I stopped thinking about my purpose, my passion, what I could do or what I should do. I started asking a different set of questions. In the words of Rory, I went from ‘self’ to ‘service’.
When you stop focussing on yourself and stop obsessing about this magical ‘purpose’ and put your attention on how you may be best placed to serve and help others, it brings a new lens to the question of ‘purpose’.
These 3 questions helped me find my clear career path:
So how did I make this shift?
These are the 3 questions that helped me.
Ask yourself this:
Who are the people you would like to work with/for? Who are the sorts of people that you feel you would like to help/serve?
What do those people need? What problems are they facing? Is there something you may be uniquely positioned with that will help them solve that problem?
When you know who you think you would like to serve then the next step is to work out what it is you really want from your ideal future life. You need to be really specific and granular. Write down everything you really want and the things you absolutely do not want. Designing what you would want to live your own version of a good life.
Bring these elements together:
‘Who’ you think you would like to/can help and ‘what’ you really want out of your future life. With the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ you can start to brainstorm ideas for how you can put yourself in the sorts of roles or positions to serve and help the people you feel you are best placed to do so. Think about what you would need in order to meet your ideal future specifics you noted down.
Try to be creative and open minded. Generate a list of options to explore further.
For me, that simple perspective shift allowed me to think more creatively and allowed me to start looking at the world around me differently. When you try this and begin to explore your options, you’ll notice how you will begin to get truly excited about finding the sort of role/opportunity that will put you in the right place, the right environment, serving the people you know you are best placed to do so.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe we are all here for a purpose. I believe we are all unique and that when we really live into the full potential of who we are, then we will be fulfilling our ‘purpose’. My message to you is not to give up on finding your purpose, but to come at it from a different angle.
Forget your purpose to find your purpose and ask:
Who do I think I can help?
What do those people need?
What sort of life do I really want?
Start with these three questions and you’ll begin to get clarity on where you could fulfil your true potential in career/business and ultimately find purpose in what you do.