What are we doing here?
I like to think I know what I’m doing when I write. That I know the message I’m trying to get across, and that others understand it as well. And I believe I tend to do this.
That may not always be true, if it ever is, but I still like to think it.
The most important thing to me when writing is why I’m writing. I’m big on themes and overall messages, so I’m always looking for one or two good ones to throw into whatever project I’m working on. This is something I do no matter what, since, for me, it’s the primary part of my fiction work. If I’m not working on bringing people heavily into this journey with me, then I’m not doing what I’m meant to do.
This brings me to my purpose, and how I found it.
Specifically, I know my purpose comes from writing. I’m part of the lucky bunch who have pretty much always known what they want to say, and I know that my purpose is to let people feel when they read what I’ve written when it comes to my fiction. That’s my purpose in life. To make others feel.
I first discovered that I wanted to do this when I was fourteen. I’d been interested in writing since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until I was a little older that I wrote a novella that I actually finished, and I considered this to be the first step in my writing career.
I let my mom read the novella. I can’t remember if she liked it or not, though she probably said she did to make me feel good. Either way, I remember coming downstairs to find her crying as she read it. She laughed when she saw I had caught her in the act, but I remember feeling a sense of pride once I realized what she was crying over. She cried at something I wrote. Something I made. I made someone feel that strongly just with words on a Google Doc, and I knew at that moment that I would want to keep doing this.
But it’s hard to find a strong, solid purpose. Sometimes impossible, especially if we don’t know how to find it. So, where do we start looking?
Where To Look
It’s hard to know where your definitive purpose will come from. You expect it to come in a vision, a dream, or in a direct comment from a mysterious stranger in an alleyway. For most people, it doesn’t work this way. Let’s talk about where you can look.
This one is fairly obvious, but it’s by far the best place to start. I’ve already said that my purpose comes primarily from my writing, but this could be applied to anything. Are you an athlete with a passion for coaching and bettering others? Are you a chef hell-bent on feeding the hungry? Use your passions and talents to find something you love.
While this might not directly hand you your purpose on a silver platter, this could open the door to what you might consider to be your purpose.
Also consider things that you’ve already done. Have you volunteered? Worked hard on remodeling your home? Taught your kids how to do their math homework? All of these lead up to what makes you, you. A little soul searching goes a long way.
When thinking about your interests and accomplishments, don’t forget to think about your current work. Would you consider what you’re doing now to be part of your purpose? Some advice I heard recently revolved around this: Would you do what you’re doing now for the rest of your life?
Sometimes, even when we feel we’ve found our purpose (or we’re on our way to it), we can lose it, or feel like we’ve lost it. How can we rediscover our purpose? Our passions?
My one piece of advice for rediscovering your purpose is to go back to either your true love or your first love.
I mean this in terms of passion. What was something you loved to do as a kid that you may not do now? Rediscover that interest. See if it still has anything to do with you and your passions. What was the first job you wanted? What did you want to do when you were “grown up”? If you wanted to be a doctor for most of your childhood, then your purpose now may involve helping others or something within that realm. Did you used to love painting? Get back into it.
If it’s your true love, you will always be able to make time for it. No excuses.
This all leads back to a question I’ve already asked: Would you do what you’re doing now for the rest of your life?
Of course, most of us don’t have the luxury to drop a 9-to-5 and pursue our purpose, especially if it doesn’t pay the bills, but you can always make time for it. Your purpose might not be sitting at an office desk pouring over spreadsheets. So don’t let that be your purpose. Find time to do what you love and what you believe will better this world.
Purpose Doesn’t Have To Mean Making Money
Jobs and purposes don’t necessarily overlap. Oftentimes, they don’t at all. If you’ve found your purpose in your job, then that’s fantastic, and I applaud you. But there aren’t any rules telling you what your purpose has to be connected to.
You don’t have to think being a waitress is your purpose. If it is, that’s incredible. Don’t let someone take that away from you, either. You could love your job, but still know that your purpose is helping people. You could take your purpose and incorporate it into your work. There are infinite ways to combine work and purpose, and absolutely none of them are wrong.
And I say all this because I believe that we all have a purpose. If you don’t, that’s okay too, but you might believe it more than you think if you’re reading this article.
My purpose could change. I know what I want now, but will I know what I want in twenty years? Of course not. Purpose is subjective, and it’s meaning varies from person to person. You won’t always have a particular moment in which your purpose will reveal itself to you.
And you don’t have to know what it is, especially if it might change, just like mine. I don’t have to fully know what I’m doing right now. Neither do you.