Find Your Purpose
I was inspired to write this by my nephew Tom Daley who achieved gold at the Tokyo Olympics yesterday. At 11 years old, he declared to the world that he wanted to win a gold medal and at 27...he achieved his dream. What did it take? In his case, sheer hard work and determination, picking himself up time and again, brushing off every failure or bad dive and starting over, but what about you?
How do you find your purpose? It’s the million dollar question isn't it? With an answer that seems to be ever eluding.
First of all, what is purpose? Personally I think it’s a combination of things. Feeling that what you do for a living is worthwhile, or feeling inspired and motivated by your work. Loving your job and being fulfilled by it. It’s nice idea, but how many people do you know who actually love their job?
I recently read a book called, Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn. There’s a chapter in it titled, 'What is my Job on the planet with a capital J.’ The author invites you to ask yourself this question, without thinking about all the reasons why it’s not possible. What answer instinctively comes to mind? There you go…that’s your purpose.
I can hear your sigh, if only it was that easy and I agree. I spent most of my adult life searching for my purpose. When I was younger, the most I lasted in any job was 6 months, before becoming perpetually bored and either walking away, or becoming so despondent that I was fired.
I’ve been a shop girl in Covent Garden, a money broker in New York. A fitness instructor in Dublin, a customer service assistant, a sales rep, a wife, a mother and everything in-between. Never once did I feel the sense of purpose I feel through writing and speaking. I’m passionate about it. I even get paid for it and believe me, that coming from someone who’s worked for years for nothing, is a very big achievement.
You sometimes hear people say, if you’re not doing what you love, you’re wasting your time and I know what you're thinking. It’s easy for them to say, they’re usually millionaires or celebrities with dream jobs, but what about the rest of us? The reality of life is very different, many of us are stuck on a high speed hamster wheel, that won’t slow down long enough for us to get off.
There are too many bills to pay, the car, the rent, the gas and electric. The kids need new shoes, there's food to be put on the table, but consider this for a moment.
Everyone person on this planet is good at something and everyone has a purpose. That means you are good at something and you have a purpose. You weren't born to just work, pay bills, sleep and repeat. You were born to do something. What is it? I don't know, but you do. Deep down under all the layers of your life, your purpose is sitting there all shiny and new, just waiting for you to use it.
Ask yourself this. What do you absolutely love to do? I’m not talking about going on holiday, or socialising with friends. We all love to do that. I’m talking about what are you good at? What talent do you have and are you using it? If so and you love your job and feel fulfilled with a sense of purpose, then bravo to you. It feels good doesn't it?
If on the other hand you hate your job. Accept that you hate it...without the victim mentality. If you have a mindset of lack, stress or just being generally pissed off, you’ll simply attract more of the same and probably wonder why life has fucked you over.
Change your mindset to one of acceptance. When you do, you gain a clarity only available to the surrendered mind. Then change is possible and dreams come true.
Having spent the best part of 30 years searching for purpose, I finally found it when I stopped looking for it. About three years ago, I asked myself what I love to do. It was easy. I loved to write and I have spent my whole life dreaming of being on a stage. I realised it wasn’t an actress as I'd always thought, (although I’m not ruling that out just yet) but rather a speaker. Then I fully accepted my life wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I made the decision to write. I declared to the world (not the whole world, just my world) that I wanted to speak and suddenly opportunities began manifesting before my eyes. (I'm not kidding, you can read more about it in my book Champagne and Self-Loathing)
So what’s stopping you? One thing and one thing only. (Drum roll)….FEAR. We are afraid of change, it’s something inherent in all of us. What if we fail? What if my idea of being a musician is ridiculous? Who will like my art or my writing or my pressed flowers. What if no one buys my product. Whatever the situation, whatever the dream, the only thing stopping you is fear.
I’m not telling you to quit your job right now and join the circus. I’m saying think about your purpose, think about what you're good at and ask yourself if there is a way of incorporating it into your professional life. That my friends, is the very first step.