Do you ask yourself, “What is my purpose in life?”
Or maybe for you like a lot of us, the questions are asked a little differently. Instead you wonder – why is it so hard to figure out what I actually want to do with my career?
I’ll tell you why it’s been so hard to figure out.
You’ve never been forced to define yourself. You don’t really know who you are.
You may disagree with me. After all this time on Earth you probably think you know.
But I’m not talking about things like whether you enjoy art or accounting. I’m not even talking about things like your Myers-Briggs type or how many years of therapy you’ve been in.
I’m saying you still don’t know what resonates with your soul.
That’s why I get so many emails asking me “How do I come up with good business ideas?”
And the truth is, I have no idea.
Because I don’t know what a good idea is for you.
Sure, I can help you discover it, but I can’t just pull it out of my hat like a floppy-eared rabbit.
Something that might be dazzlingly fun for me, could make you shake in your boots.
And the thing that would be a dream come true for you would make me want to pee my pants in fear. Or make me think about gouging my eyes out because I’m so bored.
Before you can find THE thing, you have to know yourself. And not just your personality. Your soul, too.
You’ve gotten here, to the point in your life when choosing what you want to do with yourself is on the horizon, and now you’re drawing a complete blank. Or nearly complete.
Hey, I did it too. It’s human nature, I think.
Until you are faced with the question of what would you do if you could do anything, you don’t really know what you’d do.
We’re never really taught to think about it.
But now that you’re there, or nearly there, to a place where you have to decide what you’d do if you could do anything – maybe because of impending retirement, maybe because you were smart about your money and can afford to downshift to a less demanding career, or maybe because you just hate your job so much you’d rather take a flying leap into the unknown than stay another year – you realize you have only a hazy idea of what’s next for you.
So how do you actually answer the question, what would you do if you could do anything?
Most people will tell you that you need to find your passion. I think it’s important, but in truth, I don’t think it’s the right place to start. Because passion is fickle. It will leave you as fast as your steamy young Italian lover, and then be back again the next day, pleading with you and swearing its undying love. And that just leaves you confused.
Instead, why not try and define yourself?
Passion is about what you love to do, but purpose – who you are, what matters to you, or what you want to do with yourself or more narrowly your career – is more about meaning.
What Is My Purpose?
When you think about who you are, what matters, or what gives you meaning, what comes up for you? What is your reason for being? Your why?
Of course, if the question were easy to answer we wouldn’t struggle with it for so long.
So what’s happening?
Sometimes we’re just afraid of being seen by others or of seeing ourselves. There are lots of reasons why we find parts of ourselves difficult to face. So we keep those parts buried. Sometimes we’re listening too closely to others and not closely enough to ourselves.
Perhaps we’re afraid of being called upon to be “brilliant,” and so instead of stepping into our greatness we delude ourselves into thinking we have no idea what we’re here to do.
But to find your purpose, you must to the opposite.
Be brave. See yourself. And when you think you’ve seen all you believe there is to see, find someone smarter and more insightful and braver than you who loves you enough to tell you the things you don’t want to hear about yourself (a good therapist will do), but that you have to hear in order to grow into the person you’re meant to be. Uncover those parts. Listen to yourself and SEE who you are. ALL of it. Do that work. Because when it’s done what’s left is a real understanding of who you are and what you have to offer.
Embrace your brilliance. Step into your greatness. Feel your way toward what actually matters to you. Not what feels “fun”, not even what feels “exciting.”
But toward what feels “kick-you-in-the-gut,” “this-is-it” “I-have-to-do-this” experiences that tell you “If I don’t do this, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, and I’ll regret it forever.”
When you get that feeling, you know you’re on the path toward your purpose.
Do you feel it?