On Purpose: Making It
"If you're not doing something you're passionate about, bring your passion into it."
A few weeks ago, I went to hear a local entrepreneur share his story on the journey into his purpose. My head ached a bit from nodding in agreement for the full hour—let's just say that I resonated deeply with his story. He shared poignant insights, including the quote above, about what it takes to make it into our purpose. It was so encouraging to hear someone who changed careers, after decades in his last, unpack how he landed right where he was meant to be.
The main messages I felt freshly encouraged by from his talk were these:
- Often, we're motivated by realities that are in direct opposition to our actual purpose (e.g. money, security, incongruent outlook on success, etc).
- Learning ourselves takes time, but we may just find that we also know ourselves pretty well already if we're willing to take a good look in the mirror.
- Who we were in our childhood isn't so different than who we're meant to become as adults.
The truth is, we may not be currently living our exact purpose in the way it will unfold over the course of our lives. But, that doesn't mean that we cannot bring meaning and hope to our days. In fact, when we have clarity on what we're made for, we can actually inject that purpose right where we're living.
For example, when I was little I loved being with my friends, talking and looking pretty. I laugh at the latter because, well, what in the world? BUT, the truth is, a beautiful aesthetic is still of great value to me, both as a person and in the way I develop my surroundings. I love to be with people and hear their stories. It brings me joy to be helpful by seeing the people in front of me and drawing connections between who they are and how they matter to the world. People, conversation, and beauty are foundational pieces of my life today. And while I've developed a lot of clarity on my purpose over the years, simply having these three pieces of understanding to "run with" enable me to focus well in my days—they're a great launching point.
We've talked before about the small steps it takes to achieve our goals and dreams. Living our life's purpose is not separate from this reality. We must start somewhere. Identifying what motivates and encourages us, what bothers us and what brings us life will provide a foundational understanding of where we're headed. And when we're striving for our more and taking care of ourselves along the way, we also must consider what is true of our lives in the present.
A great friend provided helpful advice for me in my early twenties. She said I ought to try as many things as possible in my career and curated experiences, in particular. It was time to explore and better learn about me. In my early thirties I had a much better understanding of who I was, but honestly, the wins and failures I'd experienced in my twenties taught me lessons that, in turn, soured my motivations. They became skewed by what I thought success should be in my life based on a pretty insecure foundation. I had these ideas of how I wanted to be viewed and what my contributions ought to mean to others. In the process, I really lost sight of who I was and who I wanted to become in vital ways. Good advice paired with an insecure me taught me a lot...
Like John Rivers, I had an awakening but my path still wasn't clear. Over the past five to seven years, I've developed a deeper contentment with not knowing how it all turns out because I've learned who I want to be. I now know that I'm investing well in that bright future. Each step brings deeper clarity and understanding. Every new turn in the road feels like an adventure, not a new piece of uncertainty.
My favorite phrase for my own journey has become this: Life is a great adventure! I say it as often as possible to remind myself of my choice in outlook. I've been learning to embrace what I don't know as an opportunity for learning and transformation.
Truth be told, most days I mean it and some days are still hard. I find that no matter how happy we are about who we're becoming, from time to time we're going to encounter circumstances that challenge our contentment and hope. But, we don't make it into our purpose without challenges. We make it there by reminding ourselves of the truth and staying the course. (It also doesn't hurt to surround ourselves with people who tell us the truth on our dark days, too...) To do all of this, we have to know what the goal of the course is... After all, if we haven't defined who we're becoming, it's going to be hard to stay committed in the hard times.
And for the record, I really believe you're going to make it. I'm rooting for you. Please let me know when you'd like my help along the way.
- Do you know what you were made for and what it will take for you to become that person?
- Have you ever thought about what you liked to do as a child and how that applies to life today?
- Are the current realities of your life aligned with who you want to be long-term?