After a decade of living purposefully and working with countless others in defining their purpose, I’ve found the purpose-quest means different things to different people. The question “what is my purpose?” could be asked for 3 very different reasons.
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The question, “what is my purpose?” is searched over 5,000 times on Google globally each month.
For those who’ve asked the “purpose question,” it’s usually because of an inner ache we feel, a feeling of wanting more, or searching for something (although we’re usually not sure what it is). At least that was true for me when I searched for purpose in 2009.
Today, after a decade of living purposefully and working with countless others in defining their purpose, I’ve found the “what is my purpose?” question is really trying to answer another question.
1. The question, “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?”
Very often the reason we search for purpose is that we are wondering what we should be doing with our lives. Either our current line of work no longer fills our cup, or priorities shifted and the path no longer feels right.
This is when the ache is the hardest to bear… when the path we are on is no longer the right path. Deep down we know it’s not right, but because we chose that path and became comfortable, we tend to stay where we are until the ache becomes unbearable.
Unfortunately, we don’t understand that purpose isn’t something we DO… it’s who we are. It's how we do everything regardless of the job, business, or role we currently play.
We’ve been taught to believe that what we DO is what makes us who we are. We say “I am an accountant” for example. But that’s not true; it might be what we do for a living, but it’s not who we are. When we understand who we are, at our core (which is where purpose resides), it brings the meaning to what we do.
In Oprah’s newest book, The Path Made Clear, she focuses primarily on this question - how to find the purpose path.
2. The question, “What are the actual words to my purpose?”
Many times, when we ask the purpose question, we’re really searching for that something that illuminates our uniqueness or what makes us special. We’re searching for the definition of our essence or inner being, as well as the course for our life.
Finding your purpose statement (usually no more than 2 words) brings clarity to everything – what you do, how you make your way in this world, how you are at work (regardless of the job), how you interact with others. It is who you ARE. It truly is what makes you special.
Remember, it is not what you DO. You might be a gifted artist or athlete like no other, but your purpose is who you are at your core.
I’ve found that having these magical two words are SO important to determine what’s meaningful, as well as where the path is. The day I discovered that my purpose is to “inspire potential” was the day I began to shift everything towards purpose, meaning and impact.
If you're searching for the words to your purpose, take our FREE Find Your Purpose course.
3. The final question, “How can I bring meaning to my career/business/life?”
Another reason we ask, “what is my purpose?” is that we’re in search of more meaning to our work and/or life. For some reason, the work we’re doing or the life we’re living lost its meaning.
The absence of meaning causes us to question why we’re on this earth and if we truly have a purpose for being here. This line of questioning is painful because of the emptiness that ensues.
What we don’t realize is that finding meaning starts by getting real about what we actually find meaningful.
Are we working a job we don’t love when we’d really prefer to stay home with our kids?
Or are we trapped in a career that isn’t enjoyable because we were trying to please someone else?
Or do we have a business calling out to us, but we’re not answering the call because we are trapped by the illusion of security?
It could be a thousand different scenarios, but the root cause is that we’re not honest about what it is we find meaningful.
If this sounds familiar and you want to get started, simply make a list of what you’re good at and what you enjoy. Look at the list and ask yourself, "What would I do if money were no object?"
This is a great way to be honest with yourself and about what you find meaningful. Once you have that clarity, then look for doors that lead you to that. You would be surprised at what opens up “all of a sudden.”
If you’re ready to ask these deeper purpose questions, join me by taking our free Find Your Purpose course. It’s a self-discovery journey that will unleash your potential and guide you to your path.
Known as part Wayne Dyer and part Richard Branson, Terri is a world class business growth expert, serial entrepreneur, and life transformation coach with a purpose to inspire potential. In a career that spans more than 25 years, she has launched, owned, sold, rebranded or turned around more than 40 brands. She has authored several books, and created game-changing models for business and personal success. Terri is the Founder and CEO of Succeed On Purpose Inc.
I learned to “assume positive intent,” meaning no matter what another person says or does, rather than immediately judging them, I instead would assume positive intent. I assumed they meant well or were doing their best.