First off, I have only recently discovered what I feel is my purpose. So, a total expert in this area, I am not.
That being said I really think I’ve found it, which is exciting, liberating, scary as shit, thrilling and terrifying when I think of all the challenges and possibilities that lie ahead. But overall it’s an awesomely empowering feeling, so I want to share the process I went through to hopefully help you find yours as well.
Shall I sum it up? Okay then, here it be:
My purpose is to inspire my fellow millennials to achieve financial freedom and live their most badass lives.
(Whenever I say it out loud I get tingly in my tummy parts, which I think is the scientific way of knowing that you’ve found it.)
While I’ve found “my purpose”, this is just the purpose that excites me right now. It can (and should) change. I love the quote “purpose is not a point on the map, it’s a point on the compass” (by Dale Vaughn, an incredible human I met at the Bermuda retreat). That means I (and you) will have to go through this purpose finding process again and again…and that’s okay. Actually it’s great – it means that we’re growing, identifying new talents/passions and figuring out new ways to share them with the world.
So how do we go about uncovering our purpose? Good question. Below are things I tried, and feel comfortable saying could be scientifically proven* to have made a difference:
Be vulnerable with yourself
“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am” – Parker Palmer
I spent the past 5 years in the music business while knowing deep down it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I quieted the small part of myself that kept saying every day “you aren’t happy here, why are you doing this?”. I kept going because, shit – I’d studied music business in college, all of my friends and network worked in music, and I felt that I had no transferrable skills if I were to leave.
I never wanted to listen to that truth because it would force me to face my lack of self worth, doubts, and the truth that I’d chosen the wrong path. Yet it wasn’t until I acknowledged my vulnerability and gave space to that voice, that I was actually able to shift from “this isn’t where I want to be” to “where might I want to go?” My narrative changed from self criticism to self acceptance to self love, and only once I accepted that I am indeed worthy of happiness could I begin to look forward and work towards it.
…and with others
You can make the changes that you want in your life, but it’s much harder without help. In order to get the help from the right people, you need to model vulnerability in order to bring the those people to you. It was humbling and embarrassing to tell people that the businesses I’d helped co-found had run out of money, that we weren’t sure how to fix them, and regardless of what happened I knew I had to do something else. Yet by sharing those defeats and doubts, that vulnerability attracted the right people to me – people who wanted to have those conversations, help me through it, and even ask for help with their own struggles.
Instead of no, say “Yes, And…”
I knew that the music business wasn’t for me, but had no idea what I wanted to do instead. It was an incredibly deflating feeling. So I tried an exercise – I started to think of moments/activities where I felt a strong sense of belonging and meaning, and wrote them down. It didn’t matter if my mind said “you could never do that for a living” – I just kept writing. In improv comedy there’s a rule called “Yes, And…” where no matter what idea is presented, instead of shutting it down by saying “No” you accept the scenario, say “Yes, And…” and run with it. No matter how bad or ridiculous that idea may seem at first, you always let it ride for a while to see if there’s some value to it.
For me it was the thoughts of being a tutor (even though my brain said it would never pay), being a teacher (but wouldn’t I burn out?), working on some vineyard in Europe as an excuse to travel (wait, didn’t I just care about pay?) that I wanted to initially write off, but didn’t. Good thing too – from those ideas I identified themes that give my life meaning – mentoring, teaching, helping others, traveling – things I wouldn’t have thought of had I limited myself.
Have your 85 year old self write you a letter
I did this exercise recently as part of a course I’m taking, and holy hell it was enlightening. I’ve been told several times in the past to try it, but only recently gave it a shot.
What was awesome is that 85 year old me doesn’t sweat the small stuff, is full of self love and helped tell me what really matters in my life. He provided clarity by defining what is really important to me: connection, helping/guiding others and living awesome experiences. When describing my time spent with friends, family and future lady wife, he said he’d lived a life that was inspired, alive, worthy, giddy, childlike, grateful, giving, badass, peaceful and full of love, which are all things I want to feel more of now. Hearing this life described by old, wrinkly me was incredibly powerful, and made me want to do everything I can to make that life a reality.
Disclaimer – simply doing the above things will not immediately find you your purpose. But I promise that if you start by doing just one of them, you will spark a curiosity and awareness within yourself that will ultimately lead you there. So this week, I ask that you choose to do one of those things and just do it. Even if you feel you don’t have time. The payoff for doing it will be greater than any other urgent task you have in your inbox, on your to-do list, or scheduled in your calendar.
And if you do, tell me about it – I’d love to hear what you’re thinking, where you might be stuck and offer support in any way I can. The benefit of being between jobs is I have a very flexible schedule, so seriously, take me up on it. I’m just a phone call (805.704.7728) or email away.
24 Garat gold
*I hold no advance degrees in any science related fields so that’s probably B.S. My sister has a Ph.D, though, so that’s gotta count for something.