There’s a lot of discussion around passion and purpose these days. But what does it mean, and what if you don’t know what your purpose is? Read more to understand what passion and purpose truly mean.
Purpose. Passion. Paycheck. Put these three together and you get your dream job. And if you’re reading this, you might not have the faintest clue about what your passion or your purpose is.
A passion is something that you love doing. You’d do it for free all day long and actually pay other people to aid in your passion. If you’re passionate about knitting you buy needles and yarn, if you’re passionate about golf you throw dollars at clubs and greens fees. And you do it all willingly because you love this activity. It might even be part of the reason that you keep that job you hate — so you can afford to travel, for example.
Your purpose is why you feel you were put here on earth. You are an incredibly unique individual and no one else has had your exact experiences. So what does that all lead up to?
This question can feel insanely overwhelming if you’re trying to mesh your entire being into one purpose. Especially when it’s something that can change and morph over time.
If you are able to find a place where something that you’re passionate about intersects with your purpose AND you can get paid for it — that is a gold mine. However, don’t feel like this has to happen to lead a fulfilling life.
Many people might be quite ok with having a job they maybe didn’t love – but didn’t hate either – so that they can have time and money to sink into their passion and purpose.
Read on to learn how you find your passion and your purpose. Then maybe you can meld those things together and find (or create) a job that lands you a paycheck. Or not. The choice is yours.
WE ALL HAVE A PASSION
As I said above a passion is something you love so much you’re willing to pay someone else to do it. It really can be anything that you love – a sport, a hobby, even a certain genre of entertainment – tv, movies, theater, monster truck rallies, you get the gist.
If you’re saying to yourself well I don’t love ANY of those things. All I do is work, come home and eat, watch tv, and go to bed. If this is you then we need to uncover your passion.
The best way to do that is to think about all the things you do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. What are the things that you look forward to? What events give you energy rather than draining it away? Maybe work drains your energy, but you love spending time outside on the weekends. Or maybe some of your job is ok – like the parts where you get to meet with customers – but other parts suck the life out of you – like all the paperwork.
Make two columns on a sheet of paper and mentally walk through your day. Put all the things that drain you on the left, and all the things that energize you on the right.
If there are things you only get to do once a year (or less even) that you love, put those down too. Maybe you’re an absolute Disney freak but can only manage to go there every couple of years. Would you like to go more? Well a passion might be lurking there.
Once you get all your things down, assess the list. Are there six thousand things on the left and only one on the right? If so, it’s time to talk to me about how we can reshape your life and get you headed in a better direction.
If it’s closer to even or more on the gives energy than takes away then maybe only little tweaks are needed to start living more into your passions.
Examine those energy giving activities on the right. Is there something there that you would like to do more of? Is there some way that you could get more invested in it?
Could you find a way to lessen the amount of time you’re spending on an activity that drains you so that you could put more time into one of your passions? Or is there a way that you could live your passion more in everyday life?
For example, maybe you love to travel, but big trips are expensive and out of reach except every few years.
- Can you look into smaller trips that are more local?
- Could you do road trips to save money?
- Have you considered a side hustle to help you take trips more often?
- Do you have pictures and souvenirs around to remind you of trips you’ve taken?
- Can you change your living space to reflect more of the countries that you’ve enjoyed visiting?
What we focus on, we get more of. So put your focus on your passion and even if you can’t always be out on the green or flying to a foreign country, it can still give you joy.
And don’t be afraid to have more than one passion. You might find that they all connected in a way that leads you to your purpose.
FIND YOUR PURPOSE
The best way I can describe purpose is that thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it’s your toddler — and well, there’s plenty of purpose in keeping tiny humans alive. Even if it’s not your favorite purpose (and that’s ok!)
Here’s a personal example. A few months back I did a schedule for myself to figure out where the hell all my time was going. Turns out the main answer was ubering my kids around to activities, but a close second to that was – get this – laying in bed. The thing is that you would think that I would be sleeping for most of that, and sometimes I was but I was also having terrible insomnia.
My daughter is nearly 5 and the whole sleeping through the night thing has been one big, fat joke (and lie). She was nearly 4 before she slept by herself at all, 4.5 when she started actually sleeping by herself completely, and well I can’t give you an age on the consistently sleeping through the night thing yet.
We did finally get to the point where she was sleeping most of the night, but my brain hadn’t adjusted to the idea that I could stay in bed only 8ish hours and be ok in the morning. I would stay up late, kind of sleep a little, wake up in the middle of the night, toss and turn, and then sleep in.
When I figured all this out, I decided I needed to start getting up in the morning early and that I would use that time to work out. We were going to Disney on vacation and I was hell bent that I was going to be fit enough to walk all day while frequently carrying the above 4 year old.
It was hard, no doubt. My goal was 7:30 tho I rarely hit it. It was a drag. I was motivated to work out, but not really. I can definitely tell you that my purpose will not revolve around physical fitness (again). It’s not that I don’t think it’s wildly important and do it, but it didn’t make me leap out of bed in the morning.
Having said that, do you know what time I was up the other day? 6:45am. Out of bed by 7 and at my computer by 7:15 to work on my business.
Not only was I up, but it wasn’t begrudgingly either. I’m not keeping a bottle of caffeine next to my bed just to get on my feet. My alarm goes off, I think about why I set it so freaking early, remember my business, and I’m up.
That, my friends, is purpose. That is literally what I mean when I say it’s what you get out of bed for.
To clarify, I would get out of bed early for a lot of things — I used to get up 5 am to run in races, I will get up for a yarn festival, a family event, or anything involving travel. But getting up to go to the grocery store? Not feeling it. Unless…..
YOU CREATE PURPOSE
Purpose doesn’t have to be something that you go around waiting your whole life for the epiphany to strike you over the head. I think we often feel like we have to wait until that AHA! moment to hit us. Suddenly NOW we have a purpose.
It doesn’t always work like that. In fact, I dare say it rarely works like that outside of a Hollywood Studio.
Plus that’s an awful lot of weight and waiting to put on something that we can actually create for ourselves.
As John Coleman says in his article you have to build your purpose. It might be something you have to work on daily. So in the grocery store example, if I had all the time in the world to go shopping, 6am not only isn’t the first pick, it doesn’t even make the list. However, if I go early I can spend the whole rest of the day with my family from out of town, now we’re talking.
I have now built purpose into the mundane. And now, not only will I do it, I will be motivated to do it.
You can build purpose into just about anything you do. If your purpose is to help people, even though you might hate that paperwork you have to do, if you focus on how that’s helping someone, you build in the purpose.
Figuring out what sort of things align with your values will help you figure out what your purpose is, and then you can instill that purpose into many of the things that you do.
FINDING YOUR VALUES
You may already know some, or all, of your values. You can rattle them off, like decency or fairness or courage. However, you might not be completely aware of all of them or not really be able to put them into words.
The exercise to figure them out is simple, though it might take some soul searching.
Think of something you enjoy doing and believe in, and then ask yourself why? And why again. And why? Why? Why? Why? Until you come to a one word answer.
- And many, many more can all be values
If you build your purpose(s) around these values you have defined for yourself, you’ll likely find deeper meaning and more motivation.
And if you’re really struggling with articulating your purpose, use the value words that you have come up with and try to write a mission statement with them. Yes, just like a business. Write your mission statement with 2-3 sentences and as many value words as makes sense to you. Try to keep it relatively short. The longer it is the more confusion it probably is — which means you’re still lacking clarity. You might have to ask yourself why some to figure out what really drives you.
COMBINING PASSION WITH PURPOSE
Because there are only so many hours in a day and we’d all love to spend more time on our dream activities, I want to talk a moment about how you combine them — for a paycheck or not. Because your passions tend to stick with you longer it’s easier to start there and try to build your purpose into them.
For example, if you have a passion for just about any hobby on the planet and you have a purpose of helping or entertaining people, you could start a blog or podcast or YouTube channel. All of those can be done for free, in your spare time, and maybe one day for moola.
I have a friend that had a passion soap operas and purpose of entertaining others through writing. She turned that into writing articles about soap operas. She also happened to be paid for those articles. It didn’t replace her day job, but again, there’s nothing that says you can’t live your passion and purpose and not have a totally unrelated day (or night) job.
The important thing here is to compare your list of passions with your purpose/value words and see where they might intersect in a way that would bring you joy.
- Could you use your passion for knitting and your value of education to teach classes at the local yarn store?
- Could you use your passion for makeup and your purpose of service to help women get ready for a special day?
- How about a passion for speaking and a value of leadership? Join Toastmasters!
The possibilities are endless, and some of them may even lead to an easy career switch. Others might take a long time to build income or may never even need to make money. You can be fully living your passion and your purpose without even dragging your bank account into the equation.
“YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE PASSION OR PURPOSE”
You might see arguments around the internet that you don’t need passion or purpose to get along in the world. And sure, you don’t. But when you can just follow a few steps and get some clarity on what they are, why not?
I’m sure you already have passion and purpose, but you just might not be clear on what either of them are. By doing a few simple self exploration exercises you can unearth them. Once you see them written out, you might find a totally doable way to bring those things together to bring yourself more joy. And maybe even some money.
If you’re struggling to find either your passion or your purpose, contact me here. Coaching is the ultimate self exploration tool and I can help you unearth the missing pieces to help you bring yourself more joy.