Guest Post – Understanding That “Purpose” Can Wear Many Hats
The concept of “Finding Your Purpose” has become akin to finding a magical talisman that, once found, solves all of your problems, eliminates all obstacles, and unlocks an infinitely blissful life.
In truth, living your purpose can become a replenishing source of motivation and contentment. But more often than not, “purpose” is instinctually defined as “vocation.” We easily slip into the mindset that once we’ve found “the perfect career,” we’ve also found our purpose.
The same can be said for almost any role we define ourselves with—like parent, partner, child, citizen, or congregate. We think, “This one thing is my purpose.” But, as we know, the only constant is change. What do we do when the career, relationship, or role we considered to be our purpose changes? Does this mean we need to be on the hunt for a new purpose in life?
Re-Shape Your Purpose
I invite you to reshape the way you’ve thought about purpose. Instead of viewing it as a specific role, try viewing it as a “throughline” expressed in all the actions you take in your life, both great and small.
Purpose inhabits all jobs, relationships, and interactions you have. This is truly the secret behind the promise that finding your purpose will help you wake up each morning with a zest to get out of bed. Because, let’s be honest, there will be plenty of days when the tasks planned for the day make us less than excited.
So if it isn’t a career path or a role in life that provides us with purpose, then what is it? And how do we figure out what it is for us specifically?
Richard Leider, a coach and an expert in guiding people toward discovering their purpose, has created an equation that illustrates the elements that come together to create a person’s purpose:
gifts + passions + values = purpose
Your gifts encompass a multitude of areas in your life and personality. You may often hear someone being described as having a “gift.” But in reality, it is surely just one of many. We all have a laundry list of gifts that we use in different situations and environments.
And a person’s passions can be equally diverse. Our passions frequently mirror a particular phase in our lives. And that doesn’t mean that the passion you held when you were seventeen is any less true than the passion you pursue when you’re thirty-seven, or even seventy-seven. Passions can ebb and flow, and they are each one hundred percent valid and worthwhile.
Values are more evergreen. They can deepen and mature, but our values will be the thing that continually anchors us to the proverbial “true north” within ourselves.
A great example of an evergreen value is “Be Kind.” It can be applied to every experience and interaction and is a great litmus test for the different ways that we decide to exercise our purpose. What if you find yourself in a job that repeatedly gives you a sense of unease. The job fulfills aspects of your gifts and passions, but it also has elements of unkindness. This may be what you’re picking up on that is making you feel uneasy. The job is probably not in alignment with your values.
When each of these combine—gifts, passions, and values—you will discover your purpose blossoming in multiple areas of your life. And it will naturally take on different forms as your journey unfolds. A person’s purpose can be equally expressed as a corporate executive, a stay-at-home parent, a caretaker of animals, or as a maker of sandwiches.
It isn’t selfish to invest spiritual and mental energy in exploring what those three elements are for you, or to activate your purpose in all you do. Leider reiterates this point by saying, “Genuine purpose points to the end of a self-absorbed, self-serving relationship to life.”
Discovering our purpose is a life-long journey. It will continually unfold to reveal a new iteration of itself. Simply put, our purpose will never be “what we do.” Our purpose will always be how we do what we do.
Author – Kristie Santana
Kristie Santana is a certified life coach who has spent the last 15 years traveling the country advocating for the benefits of coaching.
She is the founder of the National Coach Academy and a founding member of Life Coach Path, a New York based organization that provides resources and online education for aspiring coaches around the world.