How to Find Your Purpose
People spend their lives chasing passion.
We have dreams of what life should be like. What it could be like, once we find the magic that’s missing.
We all want to get paid to do something we love. And we want to be paid well for it!
To achieve the best of both worlds, I think we need a change in perspective.
Here’s the kernel:
Don’t create your life and then live it — live your life and then create it.
Dolly Parton said find out who you are and do it on purpose. Seth Godin’s inversion of this was a paradigm shift — try doing something on purpose to find out who you are.
How to apply this?
Do something on purpose
Start by realising that ultimately, you don’t get paid to work. You get paid to solve problems. You get paid to add value. Nobody parts with money voluntarily. They must be compelled, and that compelling force usually stems from pain.
We use money to alleviate our hunger, our tiredness and our lack of time. Money can also solve the pain of boredom, our need to communicate, and our desire to be entertained.
In the professional world there are people who solve the pain of uncertainty by drafting ironclad contracts. There are people who solve the pain of poor design, branding and corporate strategy. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. As our world grows more complex, fresh pains emerge.
A number of years ago, social media didn’t exist. Now your company’s growth strategy could be crippled without a competent social media manager. New jobs are created every day.
We part with money when it makes our life better, more convenient, or in the case of charity, to solve pain for someone who doesn’t have the money to do it for themselves.
Where pain exists, so does an opportunity to solve a problem. If you want to get paid for anything, find a pain and solve it.
It’s easy to become so preoccupied with ‘finding your passion’ that you believe every moment not spent in a state of transcendent self-alignment is a moment wasted.
Regardless of what immigrant parents may tell you, there’s nothing wrong with making drinks for thirsty people. Nor making food for the hungry. Theres nothing wrong with caring for the sick — even if the particular nursing job you have now isn’t everything you once dreamed of. All work is meaningful, so long as you solve problems, add value, and build skills.
The best part is knowing your journey doesn’t need to end there.
Find problems worth solving
Once you know that you can solve some problems, you can think of what other problems you might turn your hand to. You can dream of solving bigger problems. More complex ones. More painful ones.
Some of those problems may require more knowledge than you currently have. That’s okay. Just remember that the goal isn’t to get some arbitrary qualification. The goal is to obtain the knowledge you need to solve a particular problem. Just enough to add value and provide answers. As long as you can do that, you’ll get paid.
Sometimes you’ll find that that, despite common beliefs, you can amass enough knowledge to solve particular problems without a pricey associated degree, and also without first devoting years to a craft. You may find ways to leverage skills you already have, from problems you’ve already solved, and find new, creative answers.
Suddenly your unique lens is extremely valuable — you can solve problems in a way others can’t.
Now, you are adding unique value and can solve expensive problems. And you’ll be compensated well for it.
That doesn’t mean everyone will be transfixed by your problem-solving ability. Some may decide that you’re not the right person to solve their particular problem. And that’s okay!
Keep seeking tools to add to your utility belt. Discover mental models, frameworks and ideas to navigate chaos with clarity. Improve your ability to learn and process new information. Make more robust decisions. Begin to recognise patterns across domains. Add all of these things to your problem-solving toolbox, and become familiar enough with your tools to become versatile in deploying them. Learn the kind of problems you could solve with your electric screwdriver for people who think they’re in need of a hammer.
Somewhere in your journey of solving problems you’ll find the ones that you’re uniquely adapted to solving. The type of resolution that brings you joy. And you won’t just fall in love with it because you went to the right school, or have reached a certain age, or seniority, or whatever magic you think is prerequisite for a dream job. You’ll love solving these problems because you’re good at it. There’s just something special about the experiences you’ve gathered along the way and the tools you’ve acquired that makes you really really good at doing things like this.
And finally, being both competent and well compensated, doing something you enjoy, you’ll have the means to let others solve problems for you.
Originally published at https://www.theknowledge.io on February 14, 2022.