I have noticed a worrisome trend on the interwebs...
Every person who comes to me, almost everyone who filled my survey, and most of my peers answers "What is your dream?" with a job title or a skill.
What do you want to do? - I want to be a writer.
What do you do want to do in 10 years? - I want to design websites.
What do you want to do NOW? - I have no idea.
First of all, being confused is totally normal. In a world obsessed with job titles and metrics, it's not like society or the experts would ever recommend to start with something "intangible". (Saying that word is like announcing you're a pagan.)
Secondly, our Internet-obsessed generation has been brought up to believe anything is possible, as long as it has a name and definition. It's not like there are any courses on following your purpose (actually if you dig, you'll find some) or like the influencers throw that word into your face (actually, they do, but between the lines).
Your desire to put a label on your future is normal. But it's not healthy.
Imagine you're a multipassionate.
Most people who come to me for advice are people with many passions. When I ask them what their dream is, they answer... maybe a published author. Or an artist. OR a website designer. Why not a fashionista! Their first instinct is to CHOOSE ONE.
First of all, nobody is telling you to choose and if they do, smack their words right out of your brain. Choosing one thing would be depriving your life of everything else. Believe me, I have tried to "choose", and every time I did, I felt miserable. I've had to choose again and again, start over again and again, and just never "settled" on anything.
Until now. I have settled on something that allows me to use all of my passions - writing, social media, Photoshop, business, life coaching, and so on. And I did it by going straight to the core, rather than staying on the surface. I mean, wouldn't you rather "choose" something that feeds every aspect of your multipassionate soul?
The choice is yours, my friend. So is the choice not to "choose one".
The Core vs. The Surface.
When you brainstorm out loud and say things like "I want to write" and "I want to do something design-related", I imagine a kid in front of a canvas for the first time, telling me they want to draw with a particular brush. Do you realize how ridiculous it is for me to ask you "what do you want to draw" and you saying "I want to use this brush!"
Your answers are not answers, they are detours from your purpose.
The truth is, when you start with the brush, you are only scratching the surface of what is possible. But when you start from the core, you are answering my question "what do you want to draw?" The experts will tell you to start specific, start from your audience, and be tangible and reasonable, but this kind of advice deprives you of the ONE THING YOU NEED TO THRIVE IN THIS MONEY AND JOB DESCRIPTION OBSESSED LIFE.
The one thing you need is purpose. A reason for being.
What's your purpose?
Your purpose answers the following questions:
- Whom do you want to help?
- What do you want to help them with?
- WHY do you want to help them?
If you've watched my favorite TED talk by Simon Sinek or read his book, you'll know that starting from WHY is much better than starting from WHAT or HOW. When you start with WHAT, you're just scratching the surface. (I want to do design. I want to be a writer.) And when you start from HOW, you completely confuse yourself because there's no way you'd know how something is ever going to turn out. You can have a plan, but how do you have a plan without knowing what you're doing or why you're doing it?
Starting with WHY allows you to think about your highest goal in life. And it's not a skill or outcome you can think of. It's more like your personal mission; the one that will allow you to fulfill your creative potential. Because there's so much of it!
If each of us were born to do something UNIQUE on this Earth, something only we can do, it wouldn't be something everyone else is doing like writing or design. Rather, it would be the culmination of everything we know and love and excel at.
Your skills, talents, and passions can lead to something AMAZING, if you let them.
P.S. Read #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso to understand this better.
I make everyone do this exercise, which I'm pretty sure I borrowed from a few different sources. After doing it, you'll have direction and focus for your business, and your dream will be much more unique and specific to your person, albeit less "tangible".
(Keep in mind that the intangible gives you direction and focus, and the tangible usually just confuses you and makes you copy other people.)
Just fill in the blanks...
I want to help ____________ (the people you want to help) WITH ___________ (what you want to help them do) BECAUSE ____________ (your why).
Maybe you want to help creative rebels with starting and growing their online businesses because when you did it nobody was there to tell you how to do it, and you wasted so much time and energy looking for the answer yourself. Oh wait, that's my purpose.
You can also go deeper than that. You can say "I want to help creative rebels be themselves in their marketing and business because I grew up thinking I was supposed to be less myself and be more like others to be "accepted". What a joke."
You see? The latter purpose goes so much deeper than the former because the former just scratches the surface, but the latter goes to the heart of the matter. When you know what your purpose is, you know where you're going. And when the reason is meaningful to you, there's nothing that could stop you from chasing your dream.
The way to go deeper is to use "downward arrow questioning" or "the 5 why's" where you ask questions every time you give an answer. That way, you don't settle with the answer you just gave but keep digging until you hit the core.
Do the exercise. Go as deep as you can go. And then you'll realize you no longer have to choose one passion or skill because everything you have ever done, loved, and learned will help you get to your dream destination faster.
Trust me. I would not be loving my business right now if I had started with the idea I wanted to do marketing. I actually hate the traditional kind of marketing, but I love my kind. It goes back to you being unique and doing things your way.
Be a creative rebel with me.
Find your way and your purpose, and don't let anyone or anything derail you from getting to your dream.