Leadership, Life Purpose and Doing What You Love
From time to time, everybody questions why they’re here on earth. It’s an indicator of evolution as a human being: the question of how to be productive, how to contribute to society, how to make a difference in the world will always arise at some point.
Often – and particularly for leaders – this question is linked to “finding a career-path”. It’s time to bust some myths in this regard. I want to lay waste to some common misconceptions that abound when it comes to
a) figuring out your life purpose and
b) determining what career path you’re meant to follow.
Here’s what I’ve come to know for sure.
Often, emphasis is placed on finding a job, a career, or an employment opportunity that will meet your financial goals and obligations. This makes sense; everyone has bills to pay, and things to buy. Having an income to allow for these expenses seems logical, and the place to get this income is from your job, right?
For the most part I would agree. But here’s the thing: the financial piece of the equation cannot be your only consideration. Most people know this. So they look at the next logical question: can I do this?
This question, just like the question of finances, seems to make sense. I mean nobody’s going to pay you for something you can’t do! Except, while you may not be able to do something right now, you can learn to do it. Most people can learn to do almost anything, within reason.
I make this point because there are plenty of people who are doing things they CAN do, and they still don’t feel fulfilled. You might be one of these people. You CAN do your job; in fact you may be absolutely brilliant at it. And you still feel less than happy overall. Why is that?
Well, here’s the critical question in terms of figuring out what you “should” (and you know how I feel about “shoulds”) be doing with your life: do you LOVE it? You see, if you line this question up with what I said in the previous paragraph – the fact that most people can LEARN to do anything – what you’ll quickly realize is that while you may not know HOW to do something right now, if you love it and you allow yourself time to learn how to do it well, then you’re actually on the path to fulfilling your purpose.
When it comes to career and life purpose, the mistake that people make is this: you tell yourself some cockamamie story that if you’re good at a particular thing, then that must be what you’re meant to do with your life. This isn’t necessarily so. The thing that you’re good at isn’t necessarily what you’re meant to do, or the purpose that you’re meant to fulfill.
You might be great at math, but that doesn’t mean you’re meant to be an accountant. You might be great at healing social trauma, but that doesn’t mean that your purpose is necessarily found in the land of social justice. Instead the key indicator is always what I call the LOVE FACTOR. When you love something, when your heart is completely, 100% into a particular project or task, when you can connect with your bliss – that is what you are meant to do.
Now, let me make one thing clear, and this is critical. Your life purpose may not be found in your income-generating job. In other words, you may earn an income using a particular skill-set, but you may fulfill your purpose through another avenue. This is yet another misconception about life purpose: that somehow your life purpose has to be lived out through your professional career. Once you understand that life purpose and career aren’t necessarily one and the same (although they could be) and you understand that your purpose is to be found in the realm of “things you love to do” then you can truly decide which path to follow.
Bottom-line: when it comes to finding your life purpose, focus on the things you LOVE to do. You’ll recognize these things by the contentment you feel, the bliss you experience, the way you come alive. If you can align this with your professional career, great; this will definitely allow you the optimal fulfillment experience. But if you can’t, remember that so long as you can find an avenue to do and experience that thing you love, you will have found your purpose and you will find meaning in your life.
**Caveat: Personally, I do believe that it is always possible to blend what you love with what you’re good at, and have this be your professional career, or your income generator. In other words, even if the thing you love to do isn’t a conventional career choice, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The question is, how committed are you to the thing you love? How willing are you to do something a little different for the sake of what you love? But that’s an article for a whole other ezine.