You have a purpose. You have specific gifts, talents, and abilities that are uniquely yours. At the intersection of “what you love to do” and “what you are good at” you will find your purpose. Do you know your purpose? Do you know why you are here on this planet? If not, then it’s time to ask the questions:
What do I love to do?
What am I good at?
When do I feel most alive?
Once you have answered these questions you need to gather the courage and confidence to act upon the answers.
In my speaking and coaching work I have met thousands of people who are on purpose. They are people who are good at what they do and they love what they do. They are people in health care, banking, manufacturing, education, associations, and government. There are leaders, writers, musicians, speakers, consultants, and artists. Each person brings their unique set of gifts in service to others.
At the same time I have met thousands of people who dislike their work. These people are not on purpose. They may complain about the organization, their compensation, their fellow employees, and a host of other things. Their real problem is that they are not on purpose. When you are not on purpose you create stress, pain, and conflict for yourself. Your gifts lay within you, unopened, abandoned. Much has been said about what to do to motivate people. Meaning and purpose motivate people. Truly successful organizations are made up of people doing work they love toward a meaningful purpose
Many will say that they know what their gift is, but they can’t make any money at it. There is a way to make money at anything. The problem isn’t money. It’s confidence. They really don’t believe their gifts have value, and so they believe no one else will value them either.
Once you develop confidence, you begin to see opportunities. The world, and possibly the organization you work in, have abundant opportunities for you to live your purpose. This brings up the other reason for not living on purpose. We tell ourselves that we are not getting the support we need from others. Our family, friends, and colleagues are not cheering us on.
From the day you are born you will receive comments, opinions and criticisms from others. You must choose whether you are living their dream or your own. You must decide that your purpose is too important to abdicate responsibility for it to others.
If the biggest problem is confidence, then how do we get the confidence? Here are some ideas for you:
1. Listen to the still small voice within. Practice listening to your intuition and following it. This voice should trump all external voices when deciding how to live your life. Access this voice through prayer, meditation, or quiet contemplation.
2. Study and practice to develop your gifts. Confidence increases with knowledge and skill.
3. Let go of the negative opinions of others. You owe it to yourself to listen within and trust that inner voice rather than putting your trust in the opinions of others. Find people who will encourage and respect your gifts, because they will reflect back to you your growing inner confidence. On the other hand, listen carefully and non judgmentally to criticism. Valid criticism will show you where you need more learning and practice. Invalid criticism will test your resolve.
4. Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others. Certainly others may serve as models for you, but envy and negative comparison will not help you. Do your best with what you have now.
5. Make sure the purpose you are expressing is really yours, and not one assigned to you by someone else. Also, know that a purpose can be very simple. It isn’t always romantic or grand, but it does feel good. I have had clerks in stores and servers in restaurants who have made my day. These amazing people were each living their purpose. I have met assembly line workers, custodians, and receptionists who were living their purpose. They brought total focus and joy to their work. Sometimes your purpose is not “out there somewhere”, but it’s right here in front of you. Live the purpose that feels right to you.
6. There are no good excuses for why you can’t follow your purpose. Make time. At one point in my life I decided to hone in on my purpose. Every night before falling asleep, I asked the question: What is my purpose? I placed a notepad and pen next to my bed. When I awoke, I wrote down the first thing that came to mind. I did this for seven consecutive mornings. Once I defined my purpose, I listed all of the things I was good at and that I enjoyed doing down the left side of a piece of paper. Next, I listed all of the industries I could think of across the top of the page. I divided my paper into columns and rows, creating a matrix. I placed X’s on my matrix wherever I saw a fit between skills/interests and industries. I highlighted the industries where I felt most excited about expressing my skills and interests. I decided to focus my attention on positions in the industries where my skills and interests fit and where I felt the greatest enthusiasm. Within a week I found an ad that matched my area of focus. I was hired within a two months.
Maybe you already know your purpose. Are you challenged enough? Can you be living your purpose at a higher level? Once you find your purpose it is important to continue learning and growing. Listen to the voice within and follow it. There is a reason you are here. Whether you see yourself as young or old, working or retired, you have a purpose. It is calling to you from deep within. Answer the call. Allow it to take hold of you. It is in living your purpose that you will find fulfillment.
“Happiness comes from fidelity to a worthy purpose” Helen Keller