"I believe that the opposite of depression is not happiness, it's purpose." Kathy Heller starts her popular podcast "Don't Keep Your Day Job" with that quote, and it has always felt true to me. I see so many people struggling with this idea that they don't know what their purpose is, or they don't feel that they are living their purpose. And I totally get it, because I've been there. But what I've learned after many years wrestling with that empty, sad feeling that I would never really get to do what I am here to do, is that our purpose is much less elusive, (and therefore, much less sexy) than we've been conditioned to believe it is.
There is a lot of messaging around this idea that we are all here to accomplish one, specific thing, and that thing will be our job, and we just need to find that thing in order for our lives to be good and happy and complete. And while some people's career and life paths may unfold that way, it's really not the norm. The problem is that when we place our purpose on such a high pedestal, we unknowingly put it out of reach. Finding our purpose then becomes a far-away, impossible dream that we constantly strive for, and never actually find.
That's because your purpose isn't lost, and it doesn't exist outside of you, or in an unknown time in the future. It is also, most likely, so much simpler, and more accessible than you think - hidden in plain sight.
Here's a really simple exercise to start stepping into your purpose now, and gather some data points about what you might be here to do. Please keep in mind that this is not a be-all-end-all kind of experiment. This exercise is meant to open the door and provide you with some breadcrumbs. Each step you take will provide you with more data points, and more breadcrumbs. The business of living into one's purpose is not always linear, and almost never looks the way we think it will, or the way we think it "should." Consider yourself warned.
Living into your purpose, Step 1
Ask yourself these questions: "what is one problem I am seeing now that I would like to solve?" And, "what is the smallest, easiest, most accessible way I can start to solve it today?" You might get one idea, or you might get a bunch, but the key is to keep it so easy and simple that you can take action on it today.
If you're seeing a big problem that you would like to solve, like climate change, for example, that's great! Most likely, you're not going to solve it today though, and please don't try. But what is the smallest, easiest, most accessible action you can take? Ideally, taking this action will feel fun, easy, and maybe a tiny bit scary, because you're trying something new. But it should definitely not feel terrifying, impossible, confusing, or stress-inducing. With the climate change example, maybe you have been thinking about starting a sustainability task force at your work, and your action is to bring the idea to management. Or, maybe you have been thinking of starting a composting system at home. Pick something that feels doable, and fun.
Living into your purpose, Step 2
Notice how it feels. Here's the thing, when we get to work solving a problem we feel genuinely inspired to solve, it's a great recipe for getting into alignment. What do I mean by that? Have you ever found yourself working on a project and feeling really focused on it, to the point where you don't notice how much time has gone by? This is the flow state, and we get into it when we're doing something we genuinely enjoy. This is an indication that you are living into our purpose and being in alignment. Consider it a breadcrumb.
So, as you start taking small, easy, fun actions towards solving a problem you genuinely want to solve, notice how you feel, and notice what happens as a result. My guess is that you will feel really fulfilled by it, and most likely it'll inspire you to keep going. Creativity fuels creativity, so a lot of times when we get the ball rolling, it'll keep rolling and lead us down some interesting roads.
The benefits of this are two-fold: First, you get to feel good and gain some insight into what your purpose (or purposes) might be. Second, you are contributing to the environment you're currently in, which always has a positive ripple effect. And third, (ok it's three-fold), chances are it will open up some new and surprising opportunities to live into your purpose even more.
Living into your purpose, Step 3
You are here to spend your life doing what you love. That can be anything from being a great parent or friend, to being an artist, engineer, or teacher. The word "purpose" has been over-complicated, and I think it's time we reclaim it for ourselves. You being you, and bringing the truest, most honest version of yourself into everything you do, is a gift. And while infusing your true self into more aspects of your life may sound simple, it can feel precarious, and a little vulnerable.
This is why we start small and allow our purpose to unfold in front of us naturally. And, if you're feeling stuck and would like some support, I've got something for you! Along with being a holistic career guide, I'm also a certified hypnotherapist, (because "learning" is honestly the biggest line in my budget). I made a hypnosis audio track to help you step into your purpose with more ease. When we bring the subconscious mind on board, we can easily clear out any limiting beliefs that keep us stuck, and pave a smooth path for us to move forward. I recommend listening to this track once a day for 30 days, as you go through the first two steps of this exercise.
And, if you or someone you know is looking for some super personalized, holistic, and deeply empowering support in discovering your unique career path, get in touch! You can schedule a free, no-pressure consultation, just scroll down and fill out the contact card.
We are here to support you in living into your purpose and doing work that's aligned with who you are.