What are you meant to do?
Simplifying the sublime concept of life purpose
Unless you already have a clear answer, there’s no question more annoying and frustrating than “What are you passionate about and/or what is your life purpose?”. I find that it can, and often does, perpetuate false expectations that when you give that answer, you’ll clearly define what your profession should be and then you’ll make millions “doing what you love.” When I coach people, one of the processes I take people through is actually defining a life purpose statement, however, I make it clear that it will not then direct them to Monster.com and give them 100 job offers against that purpose. It is instead a guide, a directional compass to help define what fills your heart and gives you joy. It actually may or may not come from your profession, but it’s perspective that should be high on your radar of where you want to focus your energy as you continue to build your future goals.
In the absence of being coached on a meaningful Life Purpose statement, how do you get clarity on why the heck you’re on this planet besides achieving P&L targets and selling more stuff for the company where you work? I’ll try to keep it simple by using an example with my kids. This would usually be risky mom behavior, but since I know that unless I direct them to this post they won’t read it, so I’m safe. I have regular discussions with both of them about what they are passionate about or love doing. Yep, the coach, guilty of still asking the annoying question because let’s face it, my other hat is mom, and it’s just what we do. 🙂 They of course don’t have an answer and quite honestly at ages 21 and 17, I didn’t have an answer either. To be brutally honest, I actually had a successful 27-year career and didn’t know what my “purpose” was the entire time, so how can I expect them to know already? I finally figured it out, or at least a portion of it, but had to leave corporate life to do so. I don’t think getting to this answer needs to be so drastic for most people.
Back to my kids…. Instead of asking the question “What is their purpose?”, I’d rephrase it and ask “What are they meant to do, i.e.: What is their natural strength?”. It is basically the same question, but it simplifies it in a way that makes it more tangible. If I step back and see what both of them offer the world naturally, without effort, I’d immediately come up with the following- My daughter is meant to bring joy and levity to people’s lives. My son is meant to solve problems and think outside the box with critical thinking skills. While both can embody each other’s skill (my son brings me joy every time I see him smile and my daughter has incredible intuition skills), I would argue that what they are meant to do is what I initially describe. So how does that translate into a lifelong career making loads of money? I don’t know, but if they allow this to guide their thinking it can perhaps impact significantly the choices they make regarding their education and future career(s). Those career options for both could be endless. My son is capable of being a public personality and my daughter an engineer, yet neither would likely feel they were fulfilling what they’re meant to do based on their natural strengths in those options. Ultimately the hope is that they use their natural skills towards a fulfilling career they love because it’s what they are meant to do. Drudgery in a job is not why any of us are put on this planet, it’s just that simple. Being brave enough to follow what you’re meant to do should be simple, but it isn’t always so clear.
If you don’t know what you’re meant to do, ask the people who know you best. You’d be surprised how the people in your life can see you more clearly than you can see yourself. If you want something with a little science behind it, buy the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and use the sealed code to take the online assessment. My top five strengths from that assessment are: 1. Ideation, 2. Individualization (no shocker to many who know me!), 3. Input, 4. Empathy, 5. Activator. Before taking this, I described myself as a simplifier and dot connector. I realized, however, that was actually/ironically an over- simplified description. 🙂 It’s easy to just cut through clutter and make a simple decision without considering the fallout, however, it’s not so easy to do that with compassion (my empathy skill) for all the dots that need to be connected.
So I’ve self-defined what I’m meant to do as being an innovative and compassionate simplifier. I can input and narrow the scope of options with compassionate ideation and then provide a simplified go forward strategy to activate. It’s why I excelled in my career at codifying disparate perspectives from around the globe. It may not fully define my new career today, but it keeps me grounded not only as I continue forward, but also as I consider what skills I need to complement me for outside support.
If you feel like you’re sleepwalking through a career without a clear personal direction, sit back before your next conference call and really ask yourself, “What are my natural strengths and what am I truly meant to do with those strengths?”. Once you get this question answered in your mind, either through assessments, colleague input, self-reflection, or all of the above, allow it to awaken your excitement for a path to become your best authentic self. Because at the end of the day, offering the best version of ourselves to the world is really what we’re all meant to do.
If you would like further support on this or any other issue, click here to contact 6th Power for a free consultation to see if 6th Power can help you achieve your maximum potential.