It seems like these are the proverbial questions that will ultimately define your life forever: “What is my purpose?”, “What am I supposed to do with my life?”, “Why are we all here?”. Most of us have a sense that once these questions are answered life will magically turn into a sea of sunshine and rainbows and every day we live will be filled with meaning and satisfaction but it doesn’t always turn out that way. Answering these questions might give us better direction but they don’t guarantee life will be perfect once we do.
Now, is there a definite, fool proof 5 step guide to finding your passion? Not that I’ve found. But there is a way that’s been proven to work for a lot of people, a way I’m experimenting with myself and that’s been the one I’ve found most useful.
A few things are worth mentioning before we get into this “method” if we want to call it that, are that “Finding” is an active verb. It suggests a process, it suggests constant action, it suggests experimentation, it suggests paths and all of these things come into play when trying to figure out what we were put here to do.
Finding your purpose takes time for some and might come in no time for others. I used to be pretty sure about what my mission was in this world until pretty recently and to be really honest, it feels like my purpose might be something completely different than what I expected and that seems to be a very common trend among a few people who seem to have found their place. One thing that seems to really help guide people into finding their purpose, and it’s going to sound like the oldest cliche in the book, is definitely the proverbial “following your passion” and there’s a reason for that that might not be what you expect.
Finding your purpose requires that you actively seek to do things that might lead you to it. The first guide for that, as simple as it may sound, are the things we love to do. Your Purpose is in your Passions they say and it’s definitely true. All of those little things we enjoy doing deeply, usually things that come naturally to us or things we don’t mind doing for free, the things we can’t see ourselves going too long without doing, etc. It’s important to nurture these things because they are hints into our ultimate purpose in this lifetime.
It’s not a coincidence that you like the things you like and other people like other things. The specific set of things you like doing, that you are good at are the skills needed to fulfill your purpose, whether you were born with them and are just naturally good at them or you worked hard and picked up the skills. It’s important to constantly do these things whether you have a plan or not, whether they make sense together or not (and at first they usually don’t), just do them. The dots will eventually connect or better yet, the connection between them will become clearer and clearer to you as you continue to do them.
The second guide we have toward finding our purpose, funny enough, are the things we hate, the things that irk us, the things we wish we could change. Some things get to you or make you in particular more mad than they make everyone else. Have you noticed that? Sometimes, things make us uneasy because we were put here to change them. It’s definitely something to pay attention to.
A while back I had a draft post entitled: “The Perils Of Being A Jack Of All Trades” and it was this rant-y post about how people who are good at many things are rarely great at any and it emphasized the value of commitment and persistence but the more I thought about the subject, the more I looked at people who are good at may things and oddly enough, the more I looked at parents who encouraged their kids to try out every activity they wanted vs parents who encouraged their kids to commit to one thing the more I realized that “doing everything” was an important step in figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t.
When you have many interests, today’s action words of “consistence” and “persistence” and “focus on one thing” might leave you in the “analysis paralysis” hole and actually prevent you from going forward with figuring out what your purpose is. The pressure to choose one thing, if you’re anything like me, more often than not leaves us a bit discouraged to choose any of the things we like for fear of making the wrong choice or the misunderstanding that focusing on only one thing means we have to completely let go of the other things we enjoy doing.
Experimenting with different things, following all (or most) of our passions and trying them out and seeing how they fit will get us closer and closer to our ultimate life purpose by helping us identify where our strengths and weaknesses lie and what we actually like to do or don’t (and could therefore live without), helping us narrow in on our true passions and on our purpose.
Most of us seem to have a really shallow understanding of what the saying “follow your own path” means. To me, the saying says a lot about self acceptance and not necessarily “doing things as you please and ignoring people’s advice”. Following your own path mean accepting when things don’t go as you planned, it means accepting your own shortcomings, accepting that the ideal life you’d planned for yourself might not happen as you imagined. It means taking the new victories and celebrating them even if they wouldn’t seem like something to celebrate to “past” you. It’s not so much about the “things” that you do that make up that path but more about accepting that whatever happens during your journey was meant to happen so you could learn from it and being OK with that.
The Dots Eventually Connect
As random and unrelated as your different passions may seem to be at first, they eventually connect and make up the skill set you’ll need to fulfill your specific purpose in life so nourish your passions and keep taking action and you’ll see that your purpose becomes clearer every day.
And that’s it for today! I’d really like to know if you feel like you’ve found your purpose, how was that process and what sort of things did you do to get there? What struggles are you having in your journey? Let me know in the comments below!