“The one quality you must possess to be happy is clarity of purpose. You must know exactly what you want and why, and have a burning desire to achieve it.”
As the old story goes, two bricklayers were working at a building site when man walked by and asked each of them what they were building. The first bricklayer scowled and said, “I don’t know and I don’t care. All I do is slap mortar on bricks and stack them in rows.” The second bricklayer smiled and proudly declared, “I’m building a masterpiece – a new cathedral that will inspire with its beauty.” Both men were doing the same thing, but felt very differently about it. Why?
Well, the first bricklayer suffered from a very common problem, he was so focused on “what” he was doing, that he never stopped to ask himself “why” he was doing it.
We all know people like this who focus on “what” they’re doing instead of “why” they’re doing it. But it’s difficult to feel passionate about something when you’re missing the meaning behind it. To enjoy your “what” it must fit your “why”.
So why are you climbing the corporate ladder, running a business, living in the ‘burbs, studying accounting (or doing any of the things you do)? What’s your purpose? What’s your “why”?
“The purpose of your life is to discover your purpose and then bring all of your passion, gifts, talents, energy and efforts to living it every day.”
Defining your purpose in work, life and relationships is not about your daily tasks, it’s about the reason you do the tasks in the first place – the “why”, not the “what”. Discovering your purpose allows you to live your values, be your truest self and create a compelling vision behind your daily tasks. Knowing your “why” will dramatically improve your “what”.
Knowing your purpose means less grinding through tasks you don’t enjoy, faking it to get along with others, and suffering under the weight of exhaustion and overwhelm. Knowing your purpose gives your clarity, helps you focus and saves you time, money, effort and sanity.
For example, a person whose true purpose is to be a chef does not simply cook food. Cooking is a task, a “what”. It’s the “why” they cook that breathes life and I-can’t-take-my-eyes-off-of-you magnetism into their tasks. Their “why” might be their love of helping people celebrate life by enjoying a delicious meal that’s beautifully presented. Or their “why” might be a calling to help people live healthier lives by serving them healthy, organic meals.
OK, so right now you may be thinking, “Sounds great, but I have bills to pay, mouths to feed and chores to do. I don’t have time for daydreaming about “living on purpose”. Well, purpose isn’t just meaningful – it’s also profitable.
Knowing your purpose helps you:
- live with more joy and ease
- experience less stress and worry
- perform at a higher level
- make difficult decisions more easily
- follow your instincts instead of following the crowd
- magnetize clients and make more money
- inspire and motivate others
- change lives, including your own
So how do you find your purpose?
Here’s 7 quick tips to get your started.
1. Grab a journal, some quiet time and start writing. Write about what you love, dislike, are curious about, are repelled by, want to try, are afraid to try, and what you secretly dream of doing or being. Write whatever comes to mind. Don’t edit or censor yourself. Write daily, for at least 15 minutes, and at the end of a week or two, look back on what you wrote about and see what themes jump out at you.
2. Probe your passions (old and new). What did you love doing as a child? What lights you up now? If you didn’t have to worry about time or money, how would you spend your days? What catches your eye or captures your heart? Your purpose is constantly whispering in your ear. Listen.
3. Ask your entourage. Go to your friends, family, colleagues, bosses, neighbours, favourite store clerks, baristas and bartenders. Ask them what they see as your strengths, skills, best assets, missed callings, quirkiest traits or unique gifts. Try combining their answers in creative ways to see if anything hints at your purpose.
4. Embrace a cause. Save the whales, feed the children, support the war vets, hug a tree or hug your mom. Identify the causes that matter and get involved. Sometimes the fastest way to find your purpose is to help others live theirs.
5. Do some research. There are tons of great books, online courses and questionnaires to help you discover your purpose. Check out the reading list below to see some books and tools I recommend.
6. “Just do it”. You won’t really know how you feel about something until you try it. Whether it’s copy writing or singing Italian opera, you have to experience things directly to know if they’re a potential path to your purpose. Be bold, take some risks, laugh off the missteps and keep going. Push yourself to try something new every week.
7. Be flexible and relax. Remember, your life purpose isn’t a life sentence. What you’re passionate about today may change in the future. Life experiences and evolving relationships all play a role in what we find meaningful at any given time. You will change and your purpose will change. That’s what makes life interesting.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it…
Go through each of the steps above and use what you discover to write your personal purpose statement. You can write a single, all-encompassing life purpose statement, or you can write a series of smaller purpose statements for various aspects of your life (e.g. career, family, finances, recreation, etc.). Just be sure if you write a series of purpose statements, that they all fit together in a cohesive way. Trying to live conflicting purposes will drive your crazy.
Just remember, your purpose is NOT just about your paid work. Your purpose could be to raise incredible kids, love the heck out of your partner, create beautiful art, lead by example or to simply improve in some area of your life every day.
Living “on purpose” is never selfish or greedy. It’s always inspiring and uplifting to yourself and everyone around you. By fulfilling your purpose, you make a positive contribution to the world. Decide to start living “your purpose, on purpose” today.
RECOMMENDED READING TO HELP YOU DISCOVER YOUR PURPOSE:
- The Purpose Of Your Life, by Carol Adrienne
- Style Statement, by Carri McCarthy and Danielle Laporte
- Self Matters: Creating Your Life From The Inside Out, by Phillip C. McGraw
- I Could Do Anything – If Only I Knew What It Was, by Barbara Sher
- Callings: Finding And Following An Authentic Life, by Gregg Levoy
- The Life You Were Born To Live, by Dan Millman
- The Passion Test, by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood
- Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton
- Let Your Life Speak, by Parker J. Palmer
Mischelle vanThiel, © BrainPower Business Group Inc. 2016
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