What is my Purpose?
What is my purpose? What a question, right?
I don’t have a black or white answer, but my perspective comes from a backwards approach. Where my thoughts are gravitating towards at the moment is not how to find or recognize purpose, but rather how to recognize a lack of purpose; that’s how I’m starting to figure it out for myself.
I was your typical, high-strung, type-A, business dude for a long time. My time was spent entirely conjuring up strategies for growth, change and whatever could possibly alter my current reality. Results were measured only in numbers: sales growth, profitability and market share.
From a business perspective, it would be worrisome to not focus on these factors, agreed, but those factors were the only thing steering the ship. It was growth for growth’s sake, change for change’s sake… It was an endless loop where no result would ever be good enough, only an endless disatisfaction with the current state and constant need for more.
I was worried about departmental output, about productivity numbers, about the neatness of people’s desks! I was a misery to be around because nothing in my field of vision made me happy, all I saw was room for improvement melted with a lack of progress.
So what am I trying to say? And what does this have to do with purpose?
Looking back, I think the true sign of my lack of purpose was my overbearing concern with others; my obsession with changing everything and everyone around me. Was my life so absent of purpose that I spent my time worrying about everything other than myself?
I believe so.
Of course I was met with so much resistance and negativity; while my logic and reasoning for improvement made perfect sense business-wise, it was aggressive. I think my obsessive approach was in fact my personal need for change projected onto something other than myself; and my failure to see it.
Did the business need to evolve, sure, what business doesn’t, but was it in such dire straits it needed such an overhaul? Definitely not.
I only realized this by accident when I got so fed up of negativity I figured I’d just go out on my own, where I’d have to answer to no one and be able to push to my heart’s delight. What I discovered thru the creation of my blog was while my goals were still measurable in terms of growth and reach, there was something new added to the equation; a feeling I hadn’t felt in years.
What I felt was joy in the process. Writing, recording, expressing myself and pouring my heart out on daily basis was and is a tremendous joy. Although I’m excited when I get a share, a like or an opportunity to grow, the satisfaction stemming from those metrics comes nowhere close to the unbelievable feeling of the high five moments in the studio, or being in a coffee shop writing while soaking in the faint whispers of surrounding conversations.
I can do this all day, every day; I’ve never felt that before.
While data is essential for improvement and growth, they mean nothing if the process is meaningless. I care deeply about what I’m creating and I’ve come to understand the importance of loving what I do.
I was so overly concerned with the well being of others, whether it was their work or personal lives, as if I were an endless well of knowledge and they truly required my two cents. I passed judgement upon people I didn’t know as if I knew what was best for them. What I didn’t realize was my lack of purpose made me not mind my own business.
Since I made the decision to pursue this new career, I’ve felt more comfortable in my own skin than I have in years. As a result I’m also more comfortable with the world around me; I can now accept what other people do because honestly, if they’ve found purpose, who am I to say they aren’t happy.
I previously couldn’t understand why people did what they did, and judged with my economic, vanity metric mind. The reason I didn’t get it was because I didn’t know what it was to feel true purpose. The thought process was always “If I’m improving my business and I’m still not happy, how could you be happy not working as hard as me?”.
Since I tapped into a place where I feel really good about what I’m doing, my judgment has dissipated significantly; I no longer correlate happiness with numbers.
I can now appreciate the one thing I never understood: purpose. And I can truly see that purpose comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s marrying your high school sweetheart and having five kids, pursuing a dream writing comic books or even bird watching, go for it!
If the true metric of success was measured via “purpose-meter” rather than dollar signs, I think there would be a much greater correlation between success and happiness.
As usual, I’m only just starting to tap into this idea, and there’s still a ton I have to figure out, but for the first time in years I feel like I’m on the right path!