Oh the P word. That poopy feeling of despair when we think we haven’t reached our Purpose.
In my work with people over the last several years, I find that we may have had a misconception about purpose. We think it’s something that smacks us right in the face, or the thing that has to feel like unless we amount to be Gandhi, we have no purpose at all.
And I think that is the biggest mistake to think this way, and that thought will lead us to not do anything amazing unless it starts off as so.
So, I want you to start reframing this in a different way. Instead, ask this question: “What would you want to do with your time that is important?”
Last year, one of my favourite writers (and if he’s yours, give me a high five!) Mark Manson wrote a blog entitled 7 Strange Way Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose.
If you haven’t read it, please do! It’s going to help you find your answers because they are questions that you can actually answer (that has nothing to do with you having to know your divine reason to be on earth just yet or the ultimate legacy you want to leave).
Mark asks, “What can I do with my time that is important?”, and I believe this is a great first question to probe yourself on.
We find ourselves being busy, but are we filling our time with things that are leading us to what feels important to us?
Whether you’re in a 9-5 job or have left, are you doing things that lead you to circumstances, people, and opportunities that you really want to experience?
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What do I want to do with my time that feels important to me?
Years ago, when I was in my corporate job, I remembered thinking, “I just don’t have enough time to work on a business idea because my job takes up so much of my time”.
And although this was true to some degree, what was the real truth was that I had not really figured out what was important to me, hence I didn’t believe there was a good reason to change.
Once I suffered through more pain at my own 9-5, where it took an anxiety attack and a breakdown during a business trip to push me over the edge, I started to question what it was I really wanted.
But most importantly to ask myself what were important things for me as a human to experience, without wanting to know what it all meant as a career to start with.
Just simply, what feels important to me.
Will you ask yourself these same questions? What feels important to YOU as a human to experience?
Then ask yourself: Do your actions each day take you closer or further away from what you have said are important for your human experience?
It’s OK to be honest and say your actions don’t match. The point is to have this reality check so you can shift your actions towards what you want instead.
What are the common themes that may appear?
When you make that list of things that are important to you, you are checking in with yourself on whether these things are actually showing up in your life.
For example, if you said that “having my voice heard” is important, how are you honouring this in your life right now? Do you take some “me” time and write in the blog you started years ago? Do you write anyway even if no one is listening? Have you joined events in the community that allows you to speak up like you said you would like to?
We sometimes say things are important to us, but it doesn’t make it “real” for our heart and brain until we match action to honour it.
As you write this list of important things, you will also realize that there will be some common themes appearing. Take note of these.
For example, if you had listed writing, my voice to be heard, moving people with my art, it may fall under the theme of “self-expression”, which is something to remember as a theme for yourself. To know that your work and your personal life must have this in it for you to feel that your life is being lived with purpose.
Are your non-negotiables really non-negotiable?
As a next step, you can take a look at what is actually filling your time, and ask yourself are these negotiable or non-negotiable.
Non-negotiable as things you truly enjoy and match up to the themes of what you already mentioned in your first list of important things to you.
Negotiable are possibly things you do to please other people, put other people first, or do it because it’s “routine”, but isn’t what you want to do anymore.
What can you move around and shift in order for more of the important things to show up weekly or daily in your life?
Try to find the meaning behind the things that’s important to you. Ask why!
You know how annoying kids keep asking “Why?”, and then you answer them, and then they keep asking “OK, but why?”
Yes, they can be irritating, but you should be too.
Asking yourself why repeatedly when you state something is important to you helps you dig deeper to the root of the importance. You can start with one important thing, ask why that is important, another answer emerges, and you keep asking until you repeat yourself or have nothing more to say.
It is a very interesting and insightful process to get to know the meaning behind your thoughts and feelings.
Here are some questions to start with (and don’t forget to keep asking Why):
- What feels important to me?
- What would I like to spend my time being immersed in?
- Why is doing that important to me?
- Who do I want to be or where to do I want to go?
- How would I want to feel if I was to imagine living on purpose?
Use a journal to keep your thoughts, and check back in it often, as you keep writing in it. Every day allows you to have awareness of what you’re drawn to, or what excites you, and if you keep documenting this, you will start to see themes emerging from your writing.
P.S. If you find today’s video helpful, please forward it to a friend, colleague, or anyone you think could benefit. And of course, comment below to speak directly to me and I would love to support you 🙂
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