FIVE LESSONS ABOUT WORKING WITH PURPOSE
Last week, in the Actually Facebook group, I asked people about the obstacles they were ready to let go of this year so that they could step up, make a difference and deliver their purpose. One of the group members replied to ask ‘What if you don’t feel clear on your purpose?’. It’s a great question – thank you Joanne Brianti for asking it – and it prompted an interesting discussion.
I’ve writen before about ‘Nailing your Purpose’. Some of what I said then bears repeating. And there are some new nuances and ‘aha’ moments that arose from that discussion that I thought I’d share with you here.
DON’T GET STRESSED ABOUT IT
We are no longer content for our jobs, careers, businesses to be a means to generate the money to fund our lives. Now they must satisfy our sense of destiny, provide us with a purpose, fulfil our need for fulfilment…it’s a lot of pressure to put on the 9-5!
I am not mocking the concept of purpose. But I do question the need to get stressed out about it. You may think that’s easy for me to say: I work with purpose-led entrepreneurs and my whole business is founded on my own sense of purpose, so I guess I am one of the lucky ones. But I wasn’t always and I learnt the hard way that the more stressed out you get in search of your purpose, the more elusive it is likely to be.
Forget about it. Pursue what you love. Follow your interests. Indulge in your passions. Read. Watch. Listen. Do. Be. It is in the moments of joy that you will find your purpose waiting for you, so relax and live a little!
CHANGE THE QUESTION
I nearly drove myself mad with the ‘What is my purpose?’ question.
My advice? If you’ve been asking yourself the same question for a while and not getting an answer, change the question. In the end, instead of asking ‘What is my purpose?’ I asked a different question: how can I make a difference? And guess what? I discovered that ‘making a difference’ IS my purpose. Using the skills, talents and expertise I have gathered over the course of my life to help others to make the difference they are here to make.
Similarly Caroline Ferguson, who took part in the discussion in my Facebook group, said:
“My questions became, ‘What positive, meaningful difference can I make right now? Who or what can I help, even at a tiny level?’…Taking this approach unlocked me…’
IT’S OK TO ‘GET IT WRONG’
‘What if I pick the wrong purpose?’ ‘What if I get it wrong?’ ‘What if I change my mind?’ I have lost count of the number of clients who come to me with the furrowed brow and restless air of the ‘purpose-seeker’ asking these sorts of questions. And my answer is usually a more polite version of ‘So what?’.
So what if you get it wrong? So what if you change your mind? So what? You’re allowed. You’re a human being. You can make a mistake. You WILL make a mistake.
Accepting that is VERY liberating.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get the ‘right’ answer. I don’t know whether that’s some latent perfectionism or if it’s because we’ve imbued the idea of ‘purpose’ with so much weight and meaning. But really….unless you’re planning to have your purpose tattooed onto your forehead (or some other part of your anatomy) it actually doesn’t matter if you get it “wrong”.
IT WILL EVOLVE OVER TIME
I strongly advise you against the tattoo by the way because your purpose will evolve over time. It will change and mutate as your experiences bring new insight, new wisdom and new opportunities. If you’d asked me a year ago, when I was dreaming Actually into existence, to articulate my purpose – my answer would have been subtly different to the answer I would give today. I knew when I started that this would happen. That I hadn’t actually nailed it. That things would change as I walked the path. And I was OK with that. Be OK with it. Perfect is the enemy of momentum.
MAKE A DECISION
So, given that there’s no point in stressing out about it and it’s OK, if not inevitable, that you’ll get it wrong, that it will evolve and change…just make a decision. Pick an option. Get moving. When you’re stuck, the only way to get unstuck is to take action. Action creates change. It creates momentum. It generates feedback. It layers on experience.
Caroline Ferguson again: “I believe that purpose, like values, isn’t something we can just bolt on to our lives. It arises from within us, and from everything we’ve experienced. From who we are and how we’re made.”
Maybe your PURPOSE will show up after you make the leap, not before. Maybe if you take one step away from being unfulfilled and towards your passions, your PURPOSE will become clearer.
And good luck! Come back and tell me what you find out.
For more resources about Purpose you can read my earlier blog ‘Nailing Your Purpose’ here: https://actually.world/nail-your-purpose/
Let’s ACTUALLY make a difference!
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