That is, until I’m talking to people who are trying to grapple with it because they’ve got to the inescapable point in their lives of wanting purpose to be what drives them, and finding themselves struggling to articulate it.
And it’s a tricky one to navigate. Still, you know you’re in its vicinity when you’re asking yourself questions like:
- What’s my life all about?
- What’s unique and different about me?
- How can I bring my purpose to life through my work?
I was chatting to blog wizard, Michael Martine the other day about this very thing. I was telling him that I admired how he didn’t just give the same advice to everyone, but had this rare ability to believe everyone was unique and to work with them from that place. He wrote a great post the other day about how being the only one at what you do isn’t easy or safe. You should read it.
Yet it’s what so many of us feel we want to be.
The only one
One of the things I struggle with when I read about this stuff more generally is the myth that there’s some great formula through which to put yourself in order to get clarity about what being “the only one” looks like. Yes, some people just know what they need to do with, or achieve from their lives. But for many others, it’s more of a journey than a destination.
It’s a process of becoming.
I reflect on my lovely friend El Edward’s journey into knowing her purpose. She’s known for a while that she’s a Dream Catcher. But here’s what a new level of clarity this week allowed her to write yesterday:
It’s not all woo woo hand-holding. I’m also here to help you in practical, technical ways. Whether you need a blog or a website or some training or even if you just have a how-to question, you’ve come to the right place.
And as I write about El, one of the things that strikes me about her is that she hasn’t stopped writing and working in the process of iterating her purpose more and more clearly.
Don’t wait for crystal vision
I think there’s a view in some quarters that you need to know what your purpose is before you start to live it.
But I disagree. I realised just how much recently, when I was grappling with my own sense of purpose – again. Someone I was reaching to for advice told me that they thought my problem was that I needed to decide whether I was a coach, a psychoanalyst or a business consultant. Like what I am couldn’t be my unique blend of all three, and more. Also, being an active learner, I need to experiment to get a sense of what does and doesn’t work for me. Trying to logic it out might work for some, but again not for all.
My advisor’s perspective brings me to another point too. Some folks will understand their purpose in the language of traditional job titles. But I wish it was always that easy.
And that’s part of the challenge. How do you describe what your purpose is in language folk can “get” when no-one, let alone yourself, has expressed YOU before.
How will you ever get that career move, or that business audience if you can’t say what it is you’re about?
Can you really live on purpose and make money? How?
Even scarier is the question of whether you can live on purpose and make money in a dodgy economy. I’ve had this conversation with some folks in the last weeks too. “Shouldn’t I just stop trying to define it and go back to doing what I’ve always done?” they ask.
It’s as if, in the UK at least, the current climate has sapped grains of safety that existed until the financial crisis. A little part of me sometimes thinks that’s part of the purpose of what’s happening now. To generate fear; the kind of fear that will put us back in our boxes and stop us from believing that we have a right to live and work on our own terms, when everything in the world of work and employment is a little rocky.
But then there are those for whom what’s happening right now is fuel to the fire. It’s giving them even more determination that they are going to allow themselves to get sharper and sharper about purpose and to live in a way that has integrity with it.
In the coming weeks I’m going to be interviewing, writing about, and hosting guest posts from everyday folks who are deciding it’s safe to work on purpose despite what else is happening. My intention is to give you real life examples of how people are finding their way through the mud, and share with you a ton of inspiration.
I have some cool stuff already lining up. But, if you’d like to take a slot and tell your story here with my readers, please get in touch with me at email@example.com and say something of why it’d be so great for me to include you in this series.
Meantime, what’s your take? Can you ever really, really be clear about your purpose? And is it safe to go after it in ailing economic circumstances?