Why finding your purpose can be so problematic

We often hear that the key to creating a successful business that makes us all the money we desire and also make us happy is to build that business around our “purpose” in life. We are therefore encouraged to “discover our purpose” – as if in doing so we will find the key to the magic kingdom.

Now, I do agree that we are happiest when we know we are doing our best work – and that means work that is in alignment with our core values.

But I think that “finding our purpose” can mean that we go off seeking it like the Holy Grail. It becomes a quest.

Even if we are by and large content, we start to ask ourselves “Is this really my true purpose? What if I’m missing something here?”

And if we feel dissatisfied, unhappy, confused or unclear, then trying to “discover our purpose” can have us going around in circles. We think that everything will be OK once we find it – but it always seems to be pretty elusive!

I think a better way to uncover your sense of why you are here and what you are uniquely able to contribute to others is to understand this …

… it’s something that you already are – a way of being that you already have.

It’s the thing that people come to you for – why they are drawn to you. And that’s not just your clients or customers. It’s friends and family too – anyone you come into contact with.

You may already have some idea about what this is. A good way of gaining insight is to ask others why they like working with you. For instance, I bet if you are an accountant, your best clients will never say it’s because you’re a genius at drawing up a balance sheet – there’s another dimension that you bring to the relationship.

If you ask my clients about working with me, they are likely to start talking about patience, calmness, encouragement, and creating a ‘space’ for them to think.

And I know I am doing my best work when I’m using my patience and intuition to guide and empower others to gain clarity and create a business that they enjoy and find fulfilling. Ok, there’s a lot in there too about marketing and writing – but that first part is the key for me.

So, simply ask “What draws my customers to me? What values are at the heart of my work? What are the personal qualities that make me who I am?”

How you express this value and these qualities in your work is up to you. When you do, then you will feel a much greater sense of what I believe we mean when we talk about “living our purpose”.

Summary of action steps 

Choose about 6 work related contacts and ask them

  1. What key benefits do you get from working with me?
  2. What is it about working with me that you most enjoy?
  3. What is it that I bring to our relationship?

Ask yourself

  1. What draws my customers to me?
  2. What values are at the heart of my work?
  3. What are the personal qualities that make me who I am?

List the key qualities that emerge and look and see what you can do to express them more fully in your work.

Hint: the less you allow yourself to express these qualities (your true value), the more you will feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled.

This may lead you to change work direction, to do something different. Or it may reveal that you can adapt what you are currently doing in some way. But it will give you options – and the choice is then yours.

Recommended Posts