A lot of the time I worry if people understand what I mean by "find your purpose" because I used to be someone who was confused by that.
What does she mean my purpose! I make my destiny. This is crapola.
What does she mean find it? I need to make it, not find it, duh.
I'm with you on the whole "make your destiny" pitch and following your passions instead of something so ephemeral that a lot of people can't even explain.
But the question here isn't what you call it. It's whether you want to infuse your life - and creative career - with meaning. It's whether you need to focus all of your efforts in one direction, so that you're less scattered. And it's whether you want something so big, so personal, that will last you throughout all of your crazy creative ideas, and you'll love it, and it will motivate you like crazy.
One way to get all those things is to "find" your purpose.
Here's the deal.
Finding your purpose is choosing it. And you do make your destiny.
But if you're looking for something more, if you're sick and tired of getting by, getting jobs, and just being miserable, then you do need a purpose, whatever you call it. Call it a calling or a a quest or your WHY, it's all the same.
The most important thing to understand is--
Your purpose is just a slightly bigger picture than you're used to looking at.
On the one hand you have your passions (or what I call callings), which just pull you all over the place (especially if you're multipassionate), and they don't last very long because you change your mind or you change yourself... and it's like looking at the pieces of the puzzle individually rather than the big picture.
On the other hand, you have your underlying purpose.
It's not exactly the thing you were born to do, but it is the thing that you grew up to do, and if you choose not to do it, that's totally fine. But if you choose to explore it and go with it, I guarantee you'll be a happier human being.
It can evolve and change course, but at its core, it's always the same.
And let me clarify what I mean by "find your purpose" because it's not the only word that can be used in this context, or even the best one. You can replace it with discover, uncover, unearth, awaken, and so on, because it's not something you "find" out there, but something that you discover within yourself.
Meaning it is already inside of you, but for some reason it's so deep down or there's so much stuff in the way, you forgot where you placed it.
Which makes it damn hard to find again.
(Aaaggh! Those damn keys...)
While there are many ways to find your purpose, I favor one particular method over any other.
Many people would say to look into your childhood or to think of something that pisses you off, and so on, and those are ways to get a hint of your purpose, but honestly, you have to be very self-aware and core-orientated to really allow these exercises to help you uncover something so meaningful and "core."
I'm not saying you're a dumb-dumb, I'm saying we all are!
It's not easy to constantly look within yourself and build your self-awareness muscle where literally the whole world begs for your attention 24/7.
Which is why the most effective method is...
When you tell the story of your life, in great detail and with great passion, you will start noticing some patterns in it. For example, people who grow up to be shy and quiet may grow up to empower others to speak up.
Whatever your life struggle was (as in you already overcame it), it's so big in your life that you can't just swipe it under the rug. It keeps whispering to you, Share me with the world. Let's help others see what we have learned.
For example, here's the essence of my life story:
Mind you, it is not the story that I told (or wrote) initially, but it is the result of my zeroing in on those patterns that I found in my story. When I looked at my story initially - with all the fails and wins - I kept seeing the same thing over and over. Trying to conform and failing, and then being my rebel self and winning.
(Like the time when I stood up to my classmates and lost their trust but won my self-respect. Or the time when I decided I would do the complete opposite of what I'd been doing for work and confuse the entire Internet, but end up doing something that I really loved, even though it was a big risk at the time.)
And I even did those other exercises - "explore your childhood" and "see what pisses you off", and they pretty much told me the same thing.
When I asked my dad about what I was like as a child::
You were weird. Like... you lived in your own world. You didn't play by the rules of this one, just pretty much did whatever you wanted.
And when I thought about pet peeves, my biggest one must be everyone's brands being the same, everyone doing the same strategies, everything being a copy of a copy of a copy, and everyone doing what they "should" do. Whether it's online or in real life, I just detest the phrase "supposed to." ACK.
Because you're a rebel and you act differently (or you just feel like you're different), you attract a lot of criticism from non-rebels, and when you're a child that criticism is crippling. As you grow up, you need to integrate with both your family and your peers, and while your family is mostly accepting of your antics, your peers are not. And that's when you start toning down your inner rebel and conforming to the best of your abilities so your friends will like you. Later, when you finally get out into the world and see there are rebels everywhere, you finally realize how silly the whole thing was, and so you let out the rebel again. That's pretty much what happened for me when I went to University, and yet, that same struggle followed me around for a very long time.
Which is why my purpose turned into helping other rebels overcome that same struggle. For one thing it was there all the time and for another, I had become some aware and passionate about it, I just had to do something.
Helping others overcome the same struggle that you've had doesn't mean you have it all figured out and that you're done learning and you're the world expert.
First of all, there's no such thing as a complete expert, we all learn as we go, and we never stop learning while we're alive. Period.
Secondly, you can help people by sharing your stories and insights, or share the lessons that you're learning right now! You can create a blog and start helping people. You don't have to coach them or give them blueprints. You just have to share your story. You would not believe how many people out there think they have no talents or any useful skills, but you do!!! You've lived so many years and you've got so many talents and skills! (If you don't believe me, READ THIS.)
(Even something simple like a passion for learning is a great strength!)
And finally, I'm not saying that you have one purpose in life and that's it. That's where you get to choose your purpose as well, because you have many!
Right now I am helping creative rebels reawaken their inner rebels and start creative brands and businesses they absolutely love. I also help other creative rebels grow their existing creative businesses in their own ways.
(Marketing doesn't have to be boring & sleazy. It can be creative & authentic!)
And beneath this mission statement lies my underlying purpose:
And the business stuff is just my current passion! :)
However, I may as well have chosen to help fellow writers complete their projects (because that's been another struggle) or help fellow creatives deal with their mental illness diagnosis (yet another struggle of mine). The details are utterly unimportant and for all intents and purposes, your purpose may be just helping certain people or reaching a certain point in your life. Or it might not have anything to do with helping people, if that's not your thing.
So you see, you absolutely can choose what your purpose will be! And in all likelihood you will dedicate the next few years of your life to it.
Personally, I have been so frustrated with temporary brands and just floating around, not knowing what to do and lacking an anchor in my creative career. But once I sat down and got real honest with myself, I decided I wasn't going to do anything else before I had a purpose that could give me focus and keep me motivated. And then my purpose chose me, and I chose it.
Now's your turn!!!
I have a nifty little exercise for ya.
1. Call up a friend and ask them to interview you about your life. Or sit down and write the story of your life, paying extra attention to your biggest struggles and victories. (Was there a defining moment in there?)
2. Look for patterns. Maybe there is one that stands out?
3. Is it a struggle you've overcome or are you still struggling?
4. What can you do right now to follow your purpose? (Forget about what you "should" do or what an expert would do. Go with your gut.)
So... what's the verdict??? Was it surprising? Expected? Crazy? Exciting? I'll be rooting for you as you bravely step into your purpose, my rebel friend.
And if you still need help with finding your purpose (or where to go from there), go ahead and download the free miniguides, including Find Your Purpose. If you prefer one-on-one help, you can go over to my Coaching page and pick the program that best suits you. (There are 3 to choose from!)
Wherever you are on your journey, I am proud of you.