The high prize of life, the crowning future of man, is to be born with a bias to some pursuit which finds him in employment and happiness
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Briana was a young woman in her late twenties. She came to life coaching to find purpose and reason. My discussions with her revealed a very mature young woman. She reminded me so much of my own daughter. Life smiled at her – she got along with everyone and you could not pick a fight with her even if you wanted to. Yet, she was so smart that every job became boring a couple of months after she started it and she felt lots of confusion about her career choices, because she did everything very well, but without passion.
That made me wonder about teaching purpose to young children. You see, Briana had all the boxes on the success list ticked, but she had no idea what “made her tick”. When I told her we all have this thing inside that makes us happy, excited, motivated, passionate and focused, she was very excited, like a child knowing there is a treasure within him that needs discovering.
The challenge I have as a life coach is that I cannot access Briana’s treasure and she must find it herself. For about 4 sessions, she talked about her career choices most of the time. In her mind, finding the right career was the solution to all her problems and she was smart and aware enough to realize the finding motivation, passion and purpose was a “rich people’s problem”, something from the top part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
I think she picked me as her life coach because reading everything she could about me had made her think that travelling and writing were the things that had made me happy, so she hoped I could help her find how to turn them into a career and a purpose. She loved travelling and writing as well, but she did not love them enough to get up early in the morning (if you know what I mean).
Here is a self-test for purpose. Let’s say you have all the money in the world, you can do anything you want, you do not have to work for a living, you are in perfect health and until the day you die, you can live anywhere you like, any way you like and have any lifestyle you like. What will you do with your time?
If you have no answer for this question, start searching for it right now. You see, Briana failed the purpose test over and over again, because every time I asked her about it, she looked at me with an embarrassed smile and said, “I don’t know”.
I have decided to write this post and share with you not Briana’s success at finding purpose, but the process she had to go through, because I think there are many people who think and feel exactly like Briana did and that blocks them from finding their purpose. That leaves them feeling like something is wrong with them, when in fact, no one has ever taught them how to find their purpose.
I do not know any education system, home or school, that helps kids develop the skills to find something as important as purpose, which every person needs. No wonder that over 28% of children between the ages of 12 and 18 do not want to go to school. These smart kids do not see … the purpose of doing that.
At first, I thought adults did not believe kids had the capacity to understand purpose, but looking at the adults, I now believe they just do not know how to find it within themselves, so no wonder they cannot teach it to kids.
Let’s teach our kids purpose so they do not need a life coach when they grow up. Of course, if we want to teach purpose, we must find it ourselves first.
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after
– Henry David Thoreau
How to find your purpose
- Everyone has a purpose. If you do not know which one is yours, it only means you have not found it YET!
- Purpose is bigger than a goal. Compared to purpose, goals are just milestones, so do not confuse them. Purpose is the reason you are here, while goal setting is the way to live your purpose. Purpose is the meaning of life – it is the reason we travel and our direction – while goals are the vehicles that carry us along the way.
- In the space where happiness resides, we can all find our passion and purpose in life. Some of the ingredients of purpose are motivation, happiness, excitement and enthusiasm. When searching for purpose, narrow down your search by looking at situations in which you are motivated, happy, excited and/or enthusiastic.
- If you dedicate your life to feeling happy and doing things you love and enjoy, one of them will eventually stand out and choose you. Purpose is not always a choice. Sometime it chooses you. Some people follow their purpose to the death and become an example, an inspiration or a wakeup call to those who are still here (see the movie Life of David Gale or consider the founder and key saints of any religion).
- A purpose is not a job. It is not something you have to do. It is something you would do even if you did not have to work. People living a purposeful life never talk about it as work or a job.
- If your job and purpose are one, you are lucky, but they are not necessary connected. You can enjoy your job and still not consider it your life’s purpose. Sometimes, your occupation only supports your purpose and that is OK.
- A purpose is not a job. On the contrary, it is a feeling of being where you need to be, where everything happening to you leads you towards a where you want to be. Focusing solely on finding a job can be an obstacle to finding out purpose, because our purpose can be right under our nose, but we will not see it. The “right” job is a job that serves our purpose, which means we must find purpose first.
- Purpose can be a role to play in making this world a better place. Ask yourself, “In the things I do, say and believe, how do I make this world a better place?” Ask and the answer will come (for more on this, read my book In the Outback with Jasmine Banks).
- Purpose can be giving something I have (including time, support and knowledge) to others to make their world a better place or help them have a good life.
- Purpose comes with an immediate reward in the form of a good feeling. By making the world a better place, I make my own life better.
- Some jobs are a form of giving time. Ask yourself, “How do I make this world a better place by giving my time to this job?” If you do not have a good answer, quit, because you are probably not doing it with passion. Going to work without knowing who benefits from it and suffering from it yourself is living against your purpose.
- Purpose does not necessarily mean changing the world. Sometimes, it means keeping the great things in it longer.
- Any form of giving can serve a purpose, because kindness ripples and has a great way to make the world a better place. Giving does not have to be of objects. Being kind will help us experience purposeful living and so lead to finding our purpose. Kindness gives birth to hope and giving hope is extremely valuable to those who need it (on both sides).
- Giving money is just one form of giving and it is a great way. Never apologize for giving money or feel inadequate for not giving enough.
- Purpose is not about quantity but quality. Yes, giving something that make a difference to many is great, but giving a little to one is a great start. If you compare yourself to others who are giving more time, more money or more skills, that is not living your purpose. We cannot compete with each other on making this world a better place. When we compete, we are not in the “giving zone”. Any feeling of competition is a warning sign, so stay tuned to it and find peace in making a small difference. It will ripple. A smile can make a huge difference to someone going through a rough patch.
- Obstacles, failures and accidents can damage your sense of meaning and purpose in life. To overcome them and still live purposefully, ask yourself “What good can come out of this?”
- Having worked with many parents, I believe that bringing kids into this world and raising them to find their purpose so they can make a difference and make this world a better place is a never-ending purpose. It feeds itself and can never fade (I have written a chapter about it in my book “Reflections”, which is still in the editing stage).
Briana is only a young woman and she will need to learn all these things gradually through her life experiences. As a life coach, I can only convince her that her purpose exists and help her find it, but the search is hers. In the same way, when we teach our children, we cannot give them a purpose, but we can teach them to keep searching until they find and be there next to them during the search and the discovery.
Much like the test I gave Briana, you can tell your kids are in the zone on the weekend, when they get up early and look disappointed that there is no school today.
Please share with us your purpose and tips for living a purposeful life.
Live with purpose and passion!
This post is part of the series From the Life Coaching Deck:
- If-then Parenting Style
- How to Help Your Kid Drive
- The Meaning of Life
- Hyperactive Kids
- Secret Demons
- Making Money Addiction
- Art Fights Depression
- Trust Your Healing Powers
- The Want Muscle
- Abusive Parenting Cycle
- Learning to Want
- Don’t Put Labels on Kids
- Stop Making More Money
- There Are No Hopeless Teens
- How to Have a Good Day Everyday
- No More Disappointment: The Biggest Loser Leads the Dance
- Choosing the Right Career Path for Your Kids