Stop Looking for Your Purpose

It’s a cliché now. Finding your purpose is so mainstream that there are numerous books, podcasts, blogs and articles on how and why you should do it. I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with young, and not so young, people about how they can find their purpose.

I haven’t really had a succinct answer for them. I can only share about how I found mine – but they are not me, so that might not be helpful.

I can give them lists of the 12 top tips to finding purpose in life, I can lead them to ask the 7 strange questions that will help them find it, or even teach them the 4 easy steps which is guaranteed* to map out their life purpose. (*Not an actual guarantee).

But none of that seems to work.

Here’s what does. Finding purpose in whatever you are doing right now. That will help you find your purpose.

Most likely, your purpose won’t come to you in your late teens/early 20’s as one grand vision which shapes the rest of your life.

More often than not, it will consist of dozens of small pieces that you have picked up at random times, doing random things, in random jobs and having random conversations.  

So, as you go along, find purpose in what you are doing right now, and you will help create your broader purpose in life.

Which Ladder?

If you think about, we do some weird things for money.

We put ourselves through years of gruelling study, after choosing a course, a university, specific subjects, work part time at the same time as writing assignments, actually writing assignments the night before they are due, find a job and then work in that job to make money.

Then we realise we don’t like that job and find another job that makes more money.

Then work more hours than necessary to progress our way up in the organisation to another job, that pays even more money with even longer hours.

This is a career. It could lead us to spend our entire working life climbing our way up the ladder only to discover that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.

But what if there is another way?

What if, instead of a career, we searched for a vocation, which is almost a calling, something that you can find significant fulfillment in. You can still climb the ladder, but it is leaning up against a more meaningful wall.

To tell the difference between a career and a vocation comes down to our motivation. If money is the main thing that you are aiming for then you could be happy with a career, but if a sense of purpose in your work is important then a vocation may be what you are after.

The real test to see if you are working in a career or a vocation is this…

If you didn’t need the salary anymore, would you still work in that job?

If so, then it is probably a vocation.

Sometimes the cost of a vocation is a lower wage, but if you are willing to sacrifice that then it is all worth it.

In all of this, I find myself wondering about how this philosophy works in developing countries. For someone living on less than $2.50 a day, is this even something that they have the opportunity to think about?

2021 Theme

I’ve had a theme for the year for a while. It’s something that I chose to focus on throughout the year, usually encompassed in one word.

This year my theme is Hope.

It may not seem like a strong word, but hope is the fuel for a courageous life.

If you have ever been in a position where you are without, or have lost, hope, you will know just how vital it is. I have had some days like that, and it’s frightening – to look ahead and feel as if things will never improve. I have learned through experience though, when I am having one of those days, that tomorrow will always be better, and it gives me the courage to take the next step.

That is the power of hope. It provides a way forward, out of despair because of what it represents. We have hope in something, from something and for something.

We hope in something, which is faith. We have faith in a god, or humanity, or our family or ourselves – something that we believe is good and can create meaning and purpose. Out of that faith comes hope.

We hope from something. The reason we hope is because we are not content with our current situation. We are looking for something more, something better or a sense of purpose or understanding. When stuck in a place where we don’t want to be, we hope because we don’t want to stay there.

We hope for something. You only hope for something when you don’t have it yet. It is innately optimistic because, even though it comes from a place of not being content with the current situation, it acknowledges that there are better things to come. Whether it is to change where we are or become a better version of ourselves in a challenging place, hope assures us that better is possible.

There is biblical wisdom that urges people to be ‘joyful in hope’.

Being joyful in hope sounds counterintuitive because hope is only necessary when there doesn’t appear to be any joy. Joy only comes because of hope. Hope first, and then you will find joy.

Purpose

I am sure it doesn’t just happen to me. Other people must think the same questions that seem to come out of the blue, in idle moments, and shock you.

Mostly it’s:

‘what is the point of all this?’

‘What does it all mean anyway?’

‘Isn’t it just a waste of time, we are all going to die anyway?’

Maybe that last one is just my own darkness, but it drives me to find the purpose in my actions. It drives me to take the things that I do daily and connect with them with a greater purpose outside of myself, otherwise I would just stop doing the little things that I consider important. (Although these questions can help you re-define what is considered ‘important’).

As I have refined my thinking over the last few years, each time these questions come, I add a little more to my philosophical outlook on life and create more of my purpose.

Historically, my purpose is to “speak words that bring life”. It has been for 15 years. But what else, what does that actually mean?

Lately my thinking has been along the lines of “creating a better world through creating better people”.

This isn’t the final edit though. There is more refining to come, but the theme is clear. I find my purpose in bringing life and growth. I find my purpose in giving. I find my purpose in generosity.

I don’t have the language nailed yet, but aren’t we all just a work in progress?

How to get Your Business involved with a Not-for-Profit (5 Easy Steps)

It’s nice to know that you want to do something to make the world a better place. It’s a great feeling. But then how do you do it?

Here are some key points which are the first things you can do to create something long lasting and sustainable for your business.

  1. Find an alignment in purpose

The first thing to do is to figure out what cause your business is naturally aligned with. If you are business that is food based, then maybe food based charities are your thing. Do you provide education and training? Then maybe causes around education would fit. Are you in the health field? Then something health related. Do you help businesses grow? Then definitely Opportunity International and microfinance are for you.

If you are unable to find an easy fit, take some time to think about what will connect with your business as a whole. You can select something that you care about individually but that will most likely end up becoming your own thing that may not create buy in from other staff. Plus, if you ever leave, your passion for that cause goes with it. Finding a solid alignment in purpose will create a long term relationship with a charity and long term solutions with impact.

2. Work out what your impact will be and how you will measure it

What kind of impact do you want to have on the world? Be specific about it and outlandish. I know of people who want to help 1 million people out of poverty or become a millionaire of souls. Once you have your numbers, figure out exactly how you will measure that.

3. Choose an organisation that will fit

Now is the fun part. You get to choose an charity that is working in the area you are interested in, can facilitate the impact you are after, can report back on that impact and are willing to work with you to help make it a reality. There are quite literally, thousands of charities to choose from, so you get to shop around.

4. Create a plan with that organisation

Put something in writing. Not only does that help make it official for you and your business but it also lets the charity know that you are in it for the long haul. It is very helpful to be specific about how you are going to achieve the impact you are aiming for. Without a plan, your impact is just a bunch of meaningless numbers. Any charity worth their salt will help you with this process.

5. Stay Connected to it

This is done through ensuring the plan and goal are connected with your business by keeping it somewhere we people (yourself included) are going to see it. Create a tally to update, keep information available to all staff and ensure the charity are regularly in contact with you. Invite them to the office to chat to the staff – we love that stuff!

Doing these five things will set you up to create a meaningful connection with a charity, and help you with your greater purpose of making a significant positive impact on the world.

The Generous Life

“You will not be satisfied until you step into a life of generosity” Jason Jaggard

I find it most difficult on Monday mornings. Not every one, but generally it’s a Monday. The day brings with it a sense of longing, questioning and searching. Is what I am doing really worthwhile? What if I am just wasting my time? What if no one else gets it? Is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?

Perhaps you know these questions and the driving force behind them, which is what I would call the search for purpose. What motivates my behaviours? Why do I do what I do?

Some will suggest that we all have a calling – something specific that we are placed on this earth to do and if we don’t find what that is we can miss our calling and then ultimately miss our purpose in life.

Others think that we don’t have a specific task or calling but we are to be the best that we can be wherever we end up. It’s more about the attitude than the action.

If you spend enough time with me you will discover that I don’t go to many extremes, but I like to find somewhere in between. (Why don’t we have both?)

I think we all have certain things that we are called to do, they may turn into our vocation or they may be specific actions along the journey. At the same time the attitude is fundamental, perhaps even more important.

If we, as people are able to act out in generosity, then that attitude will take any action that we do and make it amazing.

Finding Purpose

What gets you up in the morning?

The excitement of a new day filled with possibilities, the sound of children waking up and destroying things, or the desire for caffeine? Perhaps all of the above.

We all have at least one motivating factor that keeps us going day in and day out – and the most difficult time in life comes when we lose that connection with what motivates us. Which brings about a sense of hopelessness and can make everything we do seem mundane.

The key that I have discovered is to connect with a purpose that is bigger than just me. Something greater which reaches beyond what I am capable of and impacts the world positively.

I recently came across a guy who was working for a corporation for 25 years. Not long ago this business partnered with a group who were freeing slaves in Cambodia – now they are putting money in to making the world a better place, providing hope for people, and at the same time creating a purpose that is bigger than themselves.

The employee said,

“…for 25 years I never told anyone where I worked, now I will tell everyone, I am so proud of what we do.”

Finding purpose can take the mundane and transform it into a world changing event.

What is your purpose? What do you connect with that reaches beyond what you can do by yourself?