Stop Chasing the Purpose Unicorn & Try These 5 Tips Instead

Illustration by Christine Homolko

Today, It seems that literally everyone is an expert on finding purpose.

Well-being gurus, psychologists, coaches and consultants — they’re all pumped to help you find your purpose. Yes, we can undeniably say that finding purpose is hot in 2018. But before you shell out $2,000 for that “ find your purpose “ seminar, consider this:

Purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists (Oxford Dictionaries)

Simply put, let’s illustrate purpose with a fridge, a bee, and setting up a party:

Illustration by Christine Homolko

Now, your life’s purpose definitely is a grander, bolder, deeper thing to define. In fact, I’m not even sure you can define it at all.

See, why would your purpose, as you define it right now, still be the same in five, ten, or twenty years?

So instead of telling you how to find your purpose, here are four things in your life you can look at right now and at least find meaning. And if you still want to chase the purpose unicorn afterwards, I’ve summarized my lengthy research into four tips at the end.

1. Drown Out the Noise

First things first: don’t listen to your family’s tips and advice on finding purpose. They might have your best interest at heart, but you are unique. As such, you’ve got your own values, ideas, dreams and feelings to help guide you. Just because everyone in your entourage is a doctor and wants to help making the world a better place doesn’t mean you should feel the same way.

Same goes with your friends. What works for them doesn’t have to work for you

See the definition I posted further up? That’s just one of many. You don’t need to define your purpose, in fact that can fling you in a never-ending procrastination black hole. And guess where that will get you? Five, ten or twenty years later, you’ll emerge without any meaningful recollections and even less of a purpose.

Illustration by Christine Homolko

If you really, really need to define it , try to look at things that are meaningful to you, like:

  • Doing something you enjoy (knitting, fishing, coding — you name it)
  • Helping unfortunate ones
  • Having a roof over your head and feeling safe

2. Look at Your Job

Yes, you can find purpose in your job.

Your company may have values that align with yours. If you’re big on helping less fortunate ones, companies that give back like TOMS or Figs may quench your thirst for purpose.

Illustration by Christine Homolko

Or maybe you’ve snagged a job that’s meaningful to you. Working in a law-clinic may fuel your helper drive. Designing an app can make you feel you’ve created something meaningful for others.

Kudos to you if you’ve found a meaningful job, since that’s where most of us spend five out of seven days per week.

If you don’t feel fulfilled at work, that’s ok too: I have three more headings coming up. But if you really feel conflicted at your job, maybe this can help.

3. Treasure your family

Illustration by Christine Homolko

Family can be a bubbling source of purpose for the rest of your life, and even after.

Can’t really find something personally meaningful in your job?

Make a conscious effort to recognize how lucky you are to have a family. Cultivate mindfulness, and you’ll find meaning in so many unexpected places.

4. Turn to Your Hobbies

Many people will look for meaning in their side hustle when their job doesn’t fulfill them on that level. That’s a great way to go at it.

You don’t hate your job, but you don’t love it either. The harsh reality of things is you need the paycheck, though. So start hustling. By that, I mean follow your gut, grow, and find meaning. It doesn’t matter if your heart beats for crocheting, computing numbers, or organizing drawers, as long as you’re actually doing something you care about.

5. You Asked for it!

Ok, so you really want to put purpose under a microscope? Of all the advice I came across, it all converges into four essential tips:

#1 Don’t overthink it

You’re all fired up and ready to book that fancy retreat to go reflect about your purpose. Stop. And don’t even try hogging the couch and mulling over thoughts of purpose on your precious weekends. You will not find your purpose by thinking about it. Well, except for this article I found that says otherwise.

#2 Don’t look, Do

Stop obsessing about it. I mean it. Instead of being intent of finding your purpose, be intent on trying new things. I tried to use a hoverboard last week and landed on my butt. Hard. It was priceless to watch. So while we’re at it accept you will fail miserably and embarrass yourself at the same time. On the upside you’ll nurture crucial skills: humility and vulnerability.

#3 Stick to it

Whatever lights up a flame in your little heart means it’s worth sticking to. The first time I took on a consulting client? I totally mispriced my services, underestimated the workload, and ended up working nights and weekends. But I stuck to it. And I even loved it (well, minus the stress it caused me). The next client project, I was better. And the one after? I aced it and delivered even better results ahead of time.

#4 Loose yourself

Forgetting time, food, water, and nature calling can be a pretty good indicator you’ve found flow. And no, Netflix doesn’t count here unfortunately. We’re talking about taking actual action. If you don’t know what I mean, go back to your childhood and look at the things you enjoyed doing. That’s how I rediscovered my passion for design in my twenties.

Closing Musings

People will keep fine-tuning and re-inventing the concept of purpose forever. Ignore them. Why should you know your life’s purpose, can’t it evolve and change over time, just like anything else?

If you enjoyed this article, I’d SO appreciate it if you clapped and shared it. Comments? Yes please — I want to hear from you!

So how about you put that noble quest aside for a second, and just focus on doing something you feel passionate about?


Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on July 31, 2017.

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