It was 23 Feb 2012, I remember the day because it was the opening of a gallery space a dear friend had created to incubate change agents, new paradigm business leaders and social entrepreneurs. I was in a transition in my life, and that day I woke up and said to myself quite unprepared, “Today I am marrying my life’s purpose!” I had no idea really what I was saying or what my life’s purpose was, although it seemed to be something I had been searching for my whole life. I just knew I did not want to live another day not knowing what was ‘mine to do’.
That day came and went, and while I did not consciously realise it, things serendipitously began happening around me. And now a little over 2 years later my life has completely transformed, my business has transformed, my life is meaningful, I know my life’s purpose and I am living a purposeful life. Oh and I’m so freaking happy!
Here is a snapshot of the steps I took on my journey to discovering my WHY, I encourage you to begin the journey, uncovering what is in your heart to do. The gift you were born to give. The life you were meant to live. I daresay the universe is just waiting to support you build a happy, meaningful and abundant life.
“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin It.” – Goethe
Step 1 – Commitment
Commit to living your life’s purpose even if you don’t know what it is. This is as simple as choosing. Like in my opening story, one day I drew a line in the sand and made a decision, not only was it a decision, but I was making a commitment to myself equal to that of taking marriage vows. In essence, be serious, because anything less will leave you in the same place you are now. People I know who want to discover their WHY are often so ‘over’ living a unfulfilling life, it’s an innate urge within them to make this commitment, because they basically refuse to keep doing life the old way.
Step 2 – Get Honest With Yourself
One of the main reasons we do not know and are not living our life’s purpose is because we are actually afraid to. So as a major step in the right direction I want you to write up a list of all the fears you have of knowing and living your life’s purpose. Big things like, ‘I am afraid I will need to leave my home town and move to Paris,’ or little things like, ‘I am afraid I will forget my words.’ Or my sister’s favourite fear, ‘I don’t want to end up a starving artist.’ Write a big list, getting it all out on paper. Keep this in a safe place, you will need it in step 3.
Step 3 – Set Your Benchmark
Now you have your list of fears, write up a list of conditions which you need to be true in order to know and live your life’s purpose. This is not an ideal scene or wishful thinking, these are statements of fact, so if you are going to ‘live your higher purpose’ you are letting the universe know that these things need to be in place else you’re not doing it, basically.
Kind of like a rockstar demanding french bonbons and the rooftop penthouse at the Standard Hotel. If they don’t get it they are not going on stage. You are creating a similar list, setting a benchmark about what is important to you. Write in the positive present tense. eg “I am living in a comfortable, nurturing home where there is plenty of space for my dog.” “I am surrounded and supported by my loving family and friends.”
The second part of this step is essential to making it ok for you to find your purpose. The magic in this process is then going through your list of fears from step 2 and making sure you have conditions on your benchmark list that counter-balance all the fears. So if your fear was, ‘I won’t make any money,’ the condition will be “I am earning at least $3000 per week after tax.” Ensure every fear is crossed off the list, then throw the fears list away!
Step 4 – Discover
Next you need to actively take steps to find out what your life’s purpose is. If you already knew it you would probably be living it, for example a child protege musician or a genius scientist inventor, a compassionate nurse, or an enthusiastic teacher, etc, they all know and are living their life’s purpose. But for the rest of us trying to figure out our WHY, we have to get smart about finding our purpose. The best and most significant progress I made was when met a man (genius) called Tim Kelley in San Fran in March 2013, I recommend his book and workshops highly – True Purpose. His work is now the core purpose process I use in my programs.
Step 5 – Be bold. Be courageous. Be determined
Now some time might have passed from when you first committed to your life’s purpose and getting to this point of integrating it into your work life. You know your purpose. You have handled your present fears and have made a clear benchmark for yourself. You have told yourself how you want your life to be, and you are confident you are not going to end up in a teepee in South Nepal. This step is about having the steely determination to your stick to your path. You will need to be bold, brave and stay focussed on the goal of living your life’s purpose.
Step 6 – Ask yourself the big question
In the process of anchoring your life’s purpose into your work you need to set as many guideposts as possible to keep you on track. If it was easy to live your life’s purpose we would all be doing it. So here is a great question to answer, that will keep you continually refocusing on the experience you are looking for: ‘What do you want to be known for?’ I have seen a number of people, including myself, settle on something we wanted to be known for, and then a few months later after trying that on, it shifted to an even more specific outcome. It’s a very poignant question and another magical part of the purpose finding process.
Step 7 – Start pitching for what you want
Once the magnifying glass has lit up the hotspot in your purpose it’s time for you to start building a pitch around it. You need to try it on like an engagement ring, see how it feels. Is it you, the real you? Put words to your purpose and bring it into your daily conversations when people ask what you do. You might be surprised how fast it starts working, and you start attracting the kind of people who are looking for you and start having more meaningful conversations – exactly the way you want, expressing your higher purpose!
Step 8 – Make purposeful decisions
Now that you are starting to put your purpose pitch out there, you will begin to attract all kinds of new and interesting opportunities in and around your purpose. People naturally pick up on authentic expression and want to be involved with the buzz and energy. Your part now is in making choices that are aligned with your purpose. You need to stay faithful, remember you got married…your purpose will support you and guide you towards an awesome life but you need to stay on purpose. This is often challenged when you are offered a large fee for an off purpose project. You have to trust yourself and stick with what is meaningful, we all know what is at the end of the other road. Revisit your fears and benchmark if you need some extra support.
Step 9 – Start to build a purpose driven company
As a small business owner your business is often an extension of you. As you start to live your purpose and make purposeful choices it will be a natural next step for you to want to extend this to all areas of your existing company, or the company you are building. As you completed finding your personal purpose, you can also now spend time working on your business’s higher purpose. Dig deep and ensure the purpose is inspired, inclusive and helps unify your team towards the bigger picture. And just as a reference Tim Kelley is now working with governments to help discover country purposes. So this is very much part of our future, so be part of the fun!
Step 10 – Give back with gratitude
While this is not an essential part of fulfilling your life’s purpose through your work, I love to encourage everybody to give. It’s good for the soul. And don’t just give, give with gratitude. The great thing about gratitude is you can learn it, it’s a skill, so even if you don’t feel grateful, just act as if you are and soon things will change. Giving also helps loosen up attachments around lack of money and time. it’s a good compliment to living a purpose driven life. Keeps it in the heart, and who doesn’t want to live there?
Step 11 – Find your people
The new paradigm of business is about collaboration and partnerships. You don’t need to do it alone, and more companies are discovering the power of being on purpose and are looking for friends with the same mindset. So partner with people who are on purpose for you and your company and watch the magic happen.
So hopefully this quick intro into the journey of how to bring your life’s purpose into your working life will inspire you to begin it. Committing to my life’s purpose was the best decision I ever made, so I encourage you to choose yourself and make the time to get clear about what it is you are here to do.