Have you ever met one of those people that seems they have it all together—as if there’s a flow to the river of life and they’ve somehow managed to ride it? She rarely ever worries. He’s always smiling. They live their purpose. Everything works out for them.
And then there you are…
Admiring silently behind a digital wall, wondering how life could be so darn easy for someone. You feel simultaneously jealous and inspired—like you know you could have “that life” but are held back by something, something you can’t quite put a finger on.
Traffic jams, spilled coffee, disastrous conference calls—it feels like the universe is telling you “no” over and over again.
You feel directionless, lost, and unmotivated—like you are pushing so hard and getting nowhere.
In the quiet moments, when you’re truly honest with yourself, you aren’t even sure why you are doing what you’re doing today (beyond the basics, i.e. “to pay the bills”). You have no idea how you ended up “here.”
It’s not that you’re ungrateful for what you do have, but some piece of you is holding out—for that winning lottery ticket, one true love, or big break.
You can’t help but believe “the adults” are still playing a giant optical illusion on you. “How do people live this way for decades?” you think.
But above all else, you crave “more” and you know there is “more” out there. More meaning, connection, consciousness, and growth.
The missing element? Your purpose.
Queue the yawns.
Look I get it. There are thousands of articles on the Internet about “finding your purpose.” Bloggers and authors often treat the topic as if it’s the “end-all, be-all” of life.
They make you believe if you don’t have purpose, you simply aren’t one of the “chosen ones.”
But that is simply false.
Purpose is not some lucky draw. It’s not something that’s imparted upon the privileged few by God or The Universe. It has nothing to do with birthright or birth order.
Purpose is a choice we make about how we want to live our lives. It’s a subtle force we choose to pay attention to and tap into. And at anytime, it is available to each of us.
You’ve likely felt moments of it before. Alignment with your Purpose is that feeling you get when things “click.” The universe is bending for you. The wind is behind you. The momentum is picking up. Like that friend of yours with the “easy life” you admire.
But, what is “Purpose” exactly?
It can get confusing, as it’s often made synonymous with “passion” or other such buzzwords. But Purpose, can simply be defined as your reason for being in this world.
Some of the characteristics include:
- Increased clarity, meaning, focus, and direction
- An energy generator, not drainer
- A sense of true alignment in your physical being
- Increased chances of “success” and perseverance
- Inherently meaningful for self and others
And most importantly, it’s as Simon Sinek describes:
“A process of discovery, not invention.”
It’s something that was placed in you, a long time ago. It is the sum of what your interests and experiences are nudging you to be, do, and have. It’s the subtle reason why you choose to do what you do—every single day. It’s why you are even reading this article.
It sounds too good to be true—that your purpose is already in you and that you don’t have to go on some long-winded quest to find it. It’s not.
But that doesn’t mean the path to discovering your purpose doesn’t have it’s own trials and tribulations. A ready-made Purpose is not going to show up on your doorstep with a balloon and bullhorn.
But I assure you it’s there. It has always been and always will be. It’s just waiting for you to find it.
And so, the million-dollar question is: how on earth do you discover this thing inside of you—that we call your purpose?
I’ll raise your question with 10 more to ask yourself, which will get you closer to finding your ready-made answer:
What would it look like if I spent another decade on this current path of yours?
Really allow that question to sink in. If your physiology rejects the idea—your heart starts racing, you feel a tightening in your chest, your eyes start to water, or you get an immediate, pounding headache and the world of possibility starts to feel like it’s shrinking, maybe it’s time to rethink whether you’re on the right path.
I’m not here to tell you that you can’t continue pushing and sacrificing yourself. I’m not here to argue with you on the practicality of your decision.
I’m here to say: if you feel like you’re headed towards a slow, painful, soul-crushing death, like you’re just waiting for the crippling regret to sink in, then you are doing a disservice to the world around you.
This is your out.
You are denying the world what you are capable of. And that, my dear one, is selfish.
Finding and living in alignment with your purpose isn’t just about you. It’s about maximizing the impact you can leave. When you are aligned, you show up as a better human being, you do better work, and you love harder.
If you accept anything less, you are accepting mediocrity from yourself—and we both know you are not mediocre.
Would my fourth grade self look up to me now?
Or would she laugh mockingly? Would he cry out of pain?
Parents, teachers, and mentors have told you what you should and shouldn’t do thousands of times in thousands of subtle ways. Posting rules, asserting boundaries, and sheep-dogging you in the general direction they thought might be right for you.
Whether they meant to or not, they’ve likely closed you off from what you are really meant to do, be, and have in this life of yours.
Did I mention it’s yours?
It’s not their fault.
They handed you a specific prescription—based on a mixture of poor early assessments of your strengths and weaknesses and their own social conditioning. They pushed you to enter an already well-oiled economic machine—of high school and college graduates vying for unfulfilling positions in industries that exist solely for the purpose of maintaining the status quo.
They didn’t know any better, but you do. That’s why you’re here, searching for more.
Wouldn’t the person you were—as a child—be pissed that you are [insert your age] and still wondering what you want to be when you grow up? Wouldn’t that child be disappointed that you’re working as a [insert boring job title]? Wouldn’t he or she feed you a bit more of that idealism and curiosity that once flowed through your veins?
That child—the one that’s still in you—has all the answers already; they’ve simply been camouflaged into the fabric of who you once were. So go back there. Go back to a time before the world completely screwed you up and told you what you could and couldn’t be.
Ask that kid what to do now. And then, freaking listen!
What do I do when no one is requiring me to do it?
Think about what you do, just for the sake of it. Again, let go of those voices telling you what’s lucrative and practical and just pay attention to what you actually enjoy doing. Forget whether you could “monetize it” for a moment.
Look, I know you need to pay the bills and take care of business. I’m not advocating that you drop your obligations or run up a bunch of debt to “follow your bliss.” I just want you to think—without limitation—of what you naturally lean towards. Once you’ve identified that, I assure you that you can (a) make the time to live in your purpose, and (b) design a career (if you wish) that marries your purpose.
So, what is it that you like to do?
Is it having deep conversations? Playing video games? Climbing rocks?
Don’t you think it’s important to do the things that feed you—the ones that bring you energy rather than steal it?
One of the precursors to resilience (and ultimately success) is to choose to do things that feed you, things that you love, no matter how hard they are.
Make a list of those things that make you want to get up in the morning. That you’d still do without pay or even if you won the lottery. Start paying close attention to where your head goes in the shower and how you process the world.
Your desires, interests, and dreams are not arbitrary. They were put in you. If you gave them just a little more love and attention, like you do with the things you dislike, what could happen?
Magic, that’s what.
What would my best self be doing today?
There’s a gap between who you are today and the person you know you’re capable of becoming. You wouldn’t still be reading this if that weren’t the case. There’s a voice that creeps in late at night, a sort of existential nudge—that tells you that you could do better and be more.
Living in alignment with your purpose, as previously stated, is not just about you. When you become your best self, you not only gain material momentum and feel good about yourself; you are able to show up for others in more impactful ways.
So what is it? What would that person do today if she weren’t scared? If he wasn’t so bogged down?
Switch careers? Start a podcast? Say I love you?
Choosing the path towards your best self is scary. But what’s the alternative? Stagnation. Complacency. Unfilled Potential.
And I know you don’t want that…
The moment you begin to see failure as fuel, to embrace it with your full being, is the moment you allow yourself to walk in alignment, to live a life of meaning, and to, at a very deep level, discover your reason for being.
Use the vision you have for yourself as the power to start becoming. If you can conceive it, if you can see yourself as that person, then I assure you that you can become that person.
If I could start from ground zero, what life would I build for myself?
Instead of trying to delete some of the inessential obligations and appointments in your calendar to find an extra 30 minutes here and there (as we often tend to do), start with a blank page.
Use that list of things you love to do to create the picture of an ideal day in your life.
What would that look like—if you had no standing obligations? What would you do? Who would you spend it with? How would you show up?
If you had to leave the house, and go out and do things, what would those things be?
That is your North Star—the thing you should be working relentlessly towards.
Maybe you’re thinking this contradicts my previous point that you should be working towards your “best self”… but it doesn’t.
To live your ideal day, you must show up as your best self. Work towards both simultaneously and you will create your most epic life—day by day getting closer to being who you are capable of being, doing the things you are capable of doing.
If I’m radically honest, what beliefs, fears, and insecurities are holding me back from living this ideal day and being my “best self”?
If you’re like 99% of us humans, you’ve built most your identity around avoiding what’s uncomfortable, what you’re scared of. It’s natural to want to avoid friction. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
We all have these past pain points that have manifested as controlling fears and limiting beliefs that hold us back from becoming our best selves and doing what we know we were meant to.
But here’s the thing: so much of what’s been told to you is UNTRUE. Many of the beliefs, fears, and insecurities you have, have been passed down through generations.
Some false idea has got ahold of you—that it’s bad to be judged, scolded or laughed at. Or that failure is solely painful. Maybe that comfort is the real goal of life.
But you have a vision for the person you can be, doing the things you were meant to do… you just can’t quite get yourself to take the first step.
Imagine what life would be like if you don’t become a person that can crush barriers, surmount obstacles, and act in the face of fear. Would you be proud to be that person in a decade? What friendships, business opportunities, and life experiences will you miss out on by refusing to take the first step?
Remember: the only way to make a change is to change how you think, talk, and act. To do so, you must change the beliefs you have about yourself and the world. To really dig and there and pull out the weeds preventing the green grass from growing.
How can I trade time in for myself?
On those high-powered days, running exhausted and uninspired from one appointment to the next, you can’t expect to somehow stumble on your life’s purpose. When your brain is firing at high speed or you’re feeling lethargic, you can only focus on getting to the couch to binge on Cheetos and Netflix.
If living a life of alignment is important to you (which it should be), then prove it. Prove it by creating space for the unexpected and serendipitous to occur. To journal. To meditate. To just “be.”
I can hear it now; you’re balking. You think, “I’m too busy for that.
Maybe you are and in that case, I’m sorry that you’re “too busy” to live aligned with your purpose, maximizing your impact. I’ll forgive you, but will you forgive yourself?
There is something, some chunk of time you are spending everyday that could be eliminated altogether. Stop doing it and replace it with something that feeds you.
To find what you were meant for, you have to make the time. There is no way around this one.
Who can I call on to help?
Can we agree that you may be held back right now simply because you haven’t been exposed to the same ideas, values, beliefs, and strategies that successful people have?
The reason successful people have “figured it out” is because they were exposed to other people who had “figured it out” not because they got lucky.
Exposure will help you build competence, which in turn will help you build confidence. And as you build confidence, the world will open up and your purpose will continue to reveal itself.
Now don’t limit this just to finding people that are doing what you theoretically want to do.
Successful people know other successful people, irrespective of industry and geography. Same goes for the up-and-comers. Coaches are great for this, too, because they’ve mastered empowering people to take it up a notch.
Just get in the room or get on the phone with someone “above your level.” Do something to learn—other than your default of sticking your nose in a book or throwing a headset on. Not to knock those tools, but experience – that simply can’t be replaced.
How can I throw money at this without being totally irresponsible?
“The best investment you can make is in yourself.” Period. Bar none.
But this doesn’t mean you should go out and be wildly irresponsible with your money. You should make an investment—like an investor would—calculating the potential risk and return.
I’m all about capping the downside. Before I left my job as a litigation attorney for the magical land of entrepreneurship, I spent quite a while building my “nest egg.” I mapped out a strategy that would make it so I could take entrepreneurial risks without risking making rent.
But I’ve also invested over $200,000 in my own personal education because I know it’s what make me: (a) a happier person, (b) a better businesswoman, and (c) a more prolific resource for my clients.
This goes for everything in life. There is a risk to never investing at all, just as there is a risk to investing. The question is: What’s more risky—moving or staying still?
For me, it was staying still. I saw the choice to invest in my education, skills, happiness, etc. as a choice to invest in becoming the person I knew I could be. Alternatively, I would have left a lot of my own potential—financial, spiritual, and intellectual—on the table.
Ignorance is expensive, my friend. Begin making decisions that are in the best interest the future you—by starting to intelligently save and invest.
Am I willing to put in the effort?
At the end of the day, your standards determine whether or not you will actually discover and cultivate your purpose. If you don’t believe you can, or aren’t willing to fail here and there, then I think it best that you just suck it up.
Kidding, of course.
But you need to take it seriously. This truly is a matter of life before death.
If you’re ready – if you have the hunger, drive, and desire for more – there is simply nothing stopping you.
Purpose and total alignment are yours for the taking.
I wish you way more than luck, my friend.
Don’t waste this precious moment.
Want to figure out your life purpose? Join my 6-week Purpose Program.