Why are we here? What is our purpose in life? If you are like me, there are a lot of hours spent in prayer and meditation asking that question. As small children, we are constantly asked – and often role play the scenarios of – “what will I be when I grow up.” At the surface, it sounds so easy, but finding our purpose in life is more than a job, more than a career choice or an occupation we decide to devote our post-secondary educational learning to. Finding our purpose is to ignite that flame within and let it fuel who we will become.
Mark Twain said “the two most important days in our life are the day we are born and they day we find out why”; I could not agree more. The question, of course, is how do we find our purpose. I’d like to say I have the magic bullet and give the answer. In doing so, I’d single-handedly wipe out a multi-billion dollar industry of self-help books and career counselors.
Finding your passion and your purpose is a very personal journey.
For me, it is rooted in my spiritual beliefs and a firm commitment that my ultimate purpose must do greater good and fulfill God’s plan for my life. Thankfully, I also believe God knows the joys of my heart, has given my unique talents and is preparing me to use those talents in a way that both blesses him and allows me to be passionate about getting up and doing so every day. When passion and purpose collide, life begins.
Discovering our talents – our passions – can be a challenge for many. If you are like me, you are someone who has a dozen hobbies and serious interests, a few legitimate skills that can be transferred to employable or entrepreneurial ventures and find yourself standing at a confusing crossroad. It becomes hard to tell what is passion versus passing fancy; how do you know which are really the ones to focus on?
Years ago, I worked with a career counselor as I tried to decide if I was going to stay in the workplace or go back to get my MBA fulltime. One the many assignments she gave me was to list 25 things I truly enjoyed doing on a sheet of paper. I don’t remember the complete list, but it included personal tasks like exploring new wines, reading old cookbooks and travel; as well as work tasks like writing proposals, making client presentations, and online research. After I had my list, she made my go item by item and compare each to the other, picking which I would prefer to do most, until I had put the entire list in priority order. I was surprised at the two that rose to the top of the list. Surprisingly, they remain two of my top pursuits in both my work and personal life.
At the time, I chose to remain in the workplace. A friend and I seriously considered opening a retail store to market wine and educate young consumers in the growing and affluent Dallas area where we lived about affordable wines under $20. We had a great location. We chose a fantastic name; one so fantastic that there is now a top online gourmet food and wine website using it! We did not have the courage to step out and chase our dream and ultimately did not purpose the plan. I regret it to this day.
Too many of us are not living our dreams
because we are living our fears. –Les Brown
Each of us must find a way to put our personal lives and passions in order and build a professional life that supports our ultimate purpose for being. To do it any other way is to create a life of disorder and unhappiness. God did not intend for us to spend our days toiling away making our living at some awful vocation that does not allow us to appreciate and praise the gifts he gave us and to give back to others.
Find your passion. Make it your daily mission to figure out what fuels you to get up each day and get going and live. What makes you tick. What burns deeps within you to reach out and help others and make your corner of the world a better, brighter place. That is your passion. From there, seek daily affirmation and grace to discover how you turn your passion into your purpose. For there, true life begins.
Go be outrageous today! Live it passionately!