Even dogs need purpose. Look at the faces of these dogs. Why are they so happy when they’re working so hard…?
Because they’re working so hard doing what they love to do! Because they’re filled with the thrill of exertion. Because they’re doing what they were made to do. That’s life, raw, unfettered, unleashed, energetic life!
Life… all life is at its most exuberant, energetic and passionate when it’s exerting itself in dynamic growth and activity, service and contribution.
We are at our best when we’re working hard at work that matters to us. But if you haven’t yet tapped into that well of richness, don’t worry; we have some tips to help you discover your soul purpose and passion.
What am I Doing with My Life?
We’ve probably all asked this at some point. If that’s you too, then that’s a good thing. The fact that you’re asking and trying to figure this out means that you will arrive at a better place than if you were just floating along like a leaf in the wind.
It’s important to ask—and keep on asking—questions like this because as we journey through life the horizon changes and our goals shift as well.
Millennials and baby boomers alike are looking for their next thing.
It’s fascinating to me that many baby boomers find themselves in a similar place to many millennials. The younger millennials are trying to figure out what they want to do for a career, and many baby boomers are trying to figure out what they want to do in their second half of life, either for their second career or as a post retirement passion pursuit.
If you’re looking toward retirement, consider that now it’s your time to do the work of your heart… to do work that really matters to you.
Now is your time time to do the work of your heart.
If you’re not sure what that is, no worries. You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start. Just decide on a general range of things that interest you and head in that direction. Once you’re on the journey, avenues of opportunities will open up as you find your way.
You don’t have to have it all figured out before you start.
I coached one woman, whom I’ll call Lily. She was so removed from any sense of herself due to cultural and familial indoctrination, that she didn’t even know what kind of things interested her. Lily was 37 years old and married. She had a good life with lots of learning, growth and opportunities in business and for personal enjoyment, such as travel, but she couldn’t think of anything that really lit her up.
While Lily might seem to be an extreme example, when it comes to purpose and passion, many people feel utterly disconnected from any sense of this. There are things they like and enjoy but they are clueless as to what really lights them up. Some people even feel embarrassed that they don’t have a sense of purpose so they don’t ask anyone; they don’t seek help… they just nod when the topic comes up, while wondering why they don’t have any sense of connection to theirs.
Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know your purpose.
If you don’t feel that you know your purpose, don’t worry about it. It’s actually perfectly normal. Many people grow up disconnected from the core of what moves and inspires them. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the place of human development thus far.
Most of our grandparents didn’t have a choice to follow their passion; that was unheard of. They did the necessary for survival, and options were very limited. Baby boomers rebelled against the status quo in the 60’s and 70’s, but in the end most joined the ranks of the corporate treadmill when life responsibilities took over youthful exuberance and rebellion against the status quo.
The other contributing factor is our antiquated education system that indoctrinates students to sit still and study hard memorizing facts day after day for years on end. This kind of training suppresses creativity.
No one is at fault. These are just old systems in need of a renaissance.
If we include those who’ve been in daycare since infancy, then to add in elementary, high school, university and higher education for some, we could be talking about anything from 12-28 years of inculcation versus pursuit of any individual original purpose for the average 30 year old.
Kids are essentially “in school” being “imposed upon” by mostly the memorization of facts for testing. That’s virtually all your life passively assimilating versus proactively creating and drawing forth from your own well of self.
We’re all for education. As an autodidactic polymath, I’m a lifelong learner and plan to be learning and creating new things all the days of my life. Learning, creating and sharing is what I love to do.
As for traditional education, of course we all need basic training in structures and systems of doing things and how our society works. However today, once we understand language and numbers, interest and need-driven learning is vastly more efficient. With the world at our fingertips in the supercomputer in every pocket, to learn as we go and as we need to know things is by far the more sure and natural path to learning.
That is how humanity has learned for eons. It is far more natural to learn about something while you’re doing it in real life than to sit for seven hours a day in lectures, lessons, memorizing and worksheets. I share this here because some of you have kids and grandkids whose schooling you may be concerned about and involved in.
There is another way.
Education should invoke consciousness.
I could talk for days on education for a new era. We homeschooled our children through most of their years so it’s a subject I’m really passionate about. But since that’s not the topic here, I’ll close this rant by saying that education should inspire creativity, not stimie it. We need to be set free to explore and create from within. Education should invoke consciousness, not smother it.
So I’ll get back on the topic of purpose here, but if this education rant interests you and you’d like to know more about that, send me a note and please title it: Education. If enough people are interested in this we’ll cover more on this elsewhere.
How to Get a Life You Love
First and foremost, don’t worry if you don’t think you know your purpose. Don’t worry if you’re not even passionate about anything in particular. It’s the rare person who comes into life with a strong sense of what they really want to do. Most of us are figuring it out as we go… figuring ourselves out as we go.
If that’s you and you don’t really have a strong urge toward anything, then make the journey of self discovery your purpose.
When you don’t know your purpose, make the journey your purpose.
If that’s you, then—metaphorically—your journey isn’t about traveling from Laguardia to Los Angeles by jet. Rather, your journey is to take a roadtrip heading west. In this story, you know two things:
- You want to travel
- You want to head west
So that’s where you start. You will experience all sorts of intriguing places and faces along the way; places and encounters you could never have planned for and never have imagined in advance. Take the scenic route down every road of opportunity that intrigues you. As you sojourn, keep a journal, and place stars and hearts on your favorite pages.
Take the scenic route down every road of opportunity that intrigues you.
You could start a travel blog of your journey and experiences. You could start a YouTube channel or Facebook live coverage of what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Over time a theme of favorite things will emerge. These will give you insight into the thing you that lights you up and that you want to do more of… your next chapter.
Your soul leaves clues. Follow the breadcrumbs.
There are so very many opportunities in today’s connected world, and the world needs your years of experience and wisdom now more than ever. But in particular, the world needs more people who are alight with purpose, so pursue yours with passion!
Another Approach to Finding Your Purpose
If you’re amongst those who haven’t yet connected to any sense of passion or purpose, here’s an approach that often helps to unlock that mystery.
Ask Your Inner Child
To discover what your inner child may reveal to you about purpose, you might want to set the stage to help transport you back in time. Relics and rituals can be powerful aids in helping to pull out childhood memories that can help you to connect to who you were before you got covered over by life.
Who were you before you got covered over by life?
Relics and Rituals
With a journal or paper and pen nearby, embark on a brainstorm of the past. Gather some childhood relics to help transport you to the earliest memories of the happiest times in your life. These could be:
- Photographs (this is hugely helpful)
- Journals (or journaling memories)
- Conversations with parents, siblings and/or other relatives
- Making favorite childhood foods
- Visiting favorite childhood places
- Looking at old yearbooks
- Remembering (and writing about) favorite pretend games
- (Add your own to this list)
Begin to write thoughts, words and concepts that come to mind as you reflect on the happiest times in your childhood. Don’t edit as you go. Remember, you’re brainstorming, so allow the thoughts to tumble out on paper in whatever fashion and order they come.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- When was I happiest?
- What was I doing when I was happiest?
- What happy dreams do I recall from childhood (literal dreams as well as figurative)?
- Do I recall any fantastical things, dreams, inexplicable visions…?
- What things did I most enjoy playing and pretending?
- What thoughts (if any) did I have about “when I grow up”?
- Where was my favorite place to be and why?
- (Add your own to this list as things occur to you)
Now go back and highlight (star or heart) your favorite recurring themes. See if a pattern emerges. If you see a prominent theme, delve into this and see what else is associated with that. Ask yourself, what kind of thing this could become.
Many people are interested in the concept of Planting for Retirement, which is a movement we started last year with a Facebook group and a website, still in its early stages. Growing herbs could lead to making concoctions for yourself and/or to sell. Just one example from an infinite number of possibilities.
Re-Purpose — My Story of Discovery
Sharing a story from my own life as one example, should it be helpful and of interest.
I’ve always been extraordinarily transported by music and in particular, singing. I’ve always loved music, singing and dancing. Though classes in the arts were not so common when I was little in the 60’s, first in the semi-rural south, and then in Hawaii, when we moved there in the early 70’s. So there weren’t opportunities for classes to develop any of those interests.
One full moon winter night when I was eight, I remember standing at my bedroom window looking out at the barren woods. I was supposed to be sleeping but wasn’t yet asleep and the moon shone very brightly into my room, so I got up to look out the window.
Earlier in the day I had been listening to music, 45 records on my small portable record player, (remember those?!? Perhaps you still have yours!). Anyway, I was captivated by the music and the various emotions coaxed forth on the notes of the melodies and words.
As I stood at the window, I stepped into a waking dream where I imagined that my upstairs window was like a stage and the full moon a stage spotlight. All the trees in the surrounding woods, barren of leaves, were like people in the audience. I remember my thought as brightly as that moonlit night touched the trees and my face alike.
“I want to move people with my voice.”
This is ages before “American Idol” era; long before the collective masses were imbued with the concept of “being famous”. This was a thought from within… a seed from my soul. There was nothing in my outer environment that planted that seed. So similarly, it wasn’t a thought of “fame”. At that age in 1967, examples of fame were completely disconnected from any reality I new.
It was a thought from within… a seed from my soul.
Rather it was a vision and a thought of touching hearts… of moving souls as I was moved by others. At that time, the only deeply moving experience as an 8 year old was through music.
Soon after that, my father brought home a cassette recorder, which was a bit of a novelty at that time, and the family sat around and played around talking and singing into it. (Remember the first time your heard your recorded voice and it sounded nothing like the voice in your head)? Afterward, playing it back, my father proclaimed that we needn’t worry about any of us ever becoming singers, so poor were our raw, enthusiastic but untrained renditions.
I remember thinking then, “But wait. Can’t I try again? Is that it? Is that the end of singing for me?”
This was soon after my “awake dream” and it hit me really hard. I didn’t tell anyone. I hadn’t shared the vision, and I didn’t really know how to process any of it. But I remember thinking that it didn’t seem valid or fair to have it all decided so suddenly and unequivocally with no recourse.
Early on as a child I was told that I didn’t have a singing voice.
Over the years I still tried to sing. Lots in the car and shower… belting out with friends at parties… perhaps the party atmosphere (with intoxicants, left us all oblivious 😜). Then later, lots whenever my fiancé—then husband—would play guitar and sing some favorite 70’s music… James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Beatles… you know; all the favorites. But it seems that while my vocal contribution was acceptable (likely just politely tolerated), it wasn’t sought out. 😁
Once as an adult in my early 40s I tried again for a period of time. A friend gave me false hope saying that I had a good voice and just needed training; that he could teach anyone to sing. I believed him and tried really hard; we even recorded a couple songs on a good system. I poured my heart and effort into singing that, and I thought it was good. Until I heard the playback.
Embarrassed, I submitted to my soul this thought:
“If I’m to sing, please make it so… please help me grow as a singer or make it a clear ‘no'”.”
Shortly after that I got sick. Really, really sick with the worst flu I’ve ever had. The cough and hacking lasted over a month. I was voiceless for days and hoarse for weeks beyond that and afterward I could never even sing to the level of the best I had achieved with all that practice. Now I couldn’t even sing in the shower any more. It was way, way too much effort and didn’t even sound good to inner ear any more. So that was a very clear “no”.
I thought that childhood dream was hopeless.
Discovering Purpose in Unexpected Places
One thing I knew I never wanted to do as a child was teach. The idea of being a teacher in a classroom going over and over the same information to students year after year never attracted me in the least. It was bad enough that I had to sit through it as a student. I wasn’t about to voluntarily re-enter the classroom and teach that same stuff over and over, year after year.
Conditioning: I was also told that I wasn’t a good teacher and shouldn’t teach. (Another negative indoctrination), but that didn’t really bother me since I wasn’t interested in teaching. I just accepted that and moved on.
Many years passed before I reconnected to my childhood vision. It turned out similar but different.
All my life I’ve tried to help people. I was the one rescuing stray animals and friends in distress. I’m sure some of you can relate. Some of my earliest childhood “friends” memories included trying to help those who had troubles. Many are the hours spent listening to friends with problems and trying to help them resolve it. After hearing about their struggles I spent hours thinking of solutions… asking my parents if we could help; if they could live with us; if we could do this or that to help them.
I was also perpetually teaching myself.
It wasn’t until around age 50 that I reconnected to my childhood vision. It slowly dawned on me that there was more than one way to impact people with voice. “Voice” can be in teaching and that teaching can be via instruction, online or in person, and “voice” can also be through the medium of the printed word.
Me: “But I’m not a teacher… don’t like to teach.
Voice: “Is that really true?”
Me: “I love to help people discover and develop their greatness.”
Eureka! I had found how my “voice” might move people… how I could help them!! By doing what I’ve been drawn to do all along: using my “voice” through coaching, guided meditations, talking and writing. “Voice” for me wasn’t about singing.
In later years I realized that while teaching wasn’t my thing, I was however, constantly compelled to help people and share whatever I know to help them. I’m always perpetually teaching myself through self-talk throughout each day; turning everything into lessons and observations into philosophical reflections; correlating the microcosmic individual to the macrocosm of the universe… “As above, so below” kind of thing.
Now I’m loving every day working together along with family members as we build businesses together, including building websites like this one that serves people through original content that informs and hopefully inspires. We’re crazy busy doing work we love, so it doesn’t feel like work… it’s FUN!
In fact my daughter, Devani and I started our latest project before we had time… before the time was right… before we were ready because… precisely because it is at the exact intersection of purpose and passion for us. It is a part of our “soul purpose” and we didn’t want to delay it any longer…. come what may… and trusting in the universe.
It’s a movement for creators and you can learn more about that here: iCreateDaily.com. We are publishing the iCreateDaily Podcast beginning in November of 2017, along with running iCreateDaily “Challenge” programs to help creatives discover and do the work that matters to them.
So if you’re looking for your purpose, explore your childhood memories and experiences. Remember what lit you up. Invite thoughts of that into your daily reveries. especially as you’re drifting off to sleep, and upon awakening… journaling whatever thoughts come to mind.
Creating some time and space to just be with yourself. Relax into imagining and dreaming with the idealism of an 18 year old surveying all of life before her. A couple minutes before falling asleep is a tiny thing that takes no extra time. And journaling first morning thoughts and impressions from the night….? 5 minutes. You can do that.
Time to remember YOU.
Some of the subjective skills in demand today include self awareness and empathy. Baby boomers have much to offer that the world needs. We’ve likely moved beyond the years of drama; we’ve accrued wisdom through experience; we have skills and life experience to share, and we’ve cultivate self awareness and empathy.
There will be much need for you to deploy your gifts to help others. And… there are vast opportunities for you to pursue your own interests and do more with them than you ever thought possible. Whatever you’re interested in, there are opportunities to be found and created.
We started with a wonderful image of happy dogs doing what they love to do. We’re closing with a very cute video of very resourceful pooch, thriving on doing what it has been trained to do.
It is in the doing that we become.
Books on Finding Your Purpose
Have fun connecting with your “why”… the concepts that light you up, and you will in time, discover your “how” and “what”. If you need a little more help, you may enjoy this popular book by Simon Sinek: Find Your Why, followed by Simon’s acclaimed “Start with Why”. (Start with Why came first, but then people asked Simon to help them discover their “Why”, so he then wrote the “prequel”.
See? Many people need help in discovering their Soul Purpose; more often than not. So if that’s you, you’re definitely in the majority!
More Favorite Books Toward Revealing Purpose:
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, by Seth Godin
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything
The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren
Happy for no Reason, by Marci Shimoff
Live On Purpose!