My 6 year old niece recently said her “unique purpose” was LOVE.
Kids, man. They say the darndest things.
And it got me thinking that maybe that is EVERYONE’S purpose, but it simply presents in different ways by different people. Try to find an example of where this isn’t true. (you can leave sociopaths and serial killer motivations out of this conversation, thank you very much).
If someone invents something (i.e. the telephone), most likely the original intention wasn’t to make money or to become famous (don’t worry, I’ll get to those two in a minute). The inventor’s original intention supports their values and their desires to make something better for the world. We think of Alexander Graham Bell as an inventor. Did you know he came to the U.S as a teacher of the deaf, and conceived the idea of “electronic speech” while visiting his hearing-impaired mother in Canada? Connection and communication are at the heart of nurturing love.
We think of Claude Monet as a painter. That’s who he is. But why did he do what he did? What drove him? Monet began painting what was considered “realistic” representations of middle class life, and was able to highlight the beauty & joy to be found in the “mundane”, in a way that hadn’t been done before. That sounds a lot like love to me.
I won’t put my job as a coach on the level of Monet and Alexander Graham Bell, (yet! haha) but I’d argue that what I do is rooted in love & respect of human nature, an awe of the human condition. I love and support my client’s growth and struggle and success. By the end of our working relationship, when we’ve crossed some choppy waters together on their journey, I definitely love them. That sounds weird to write, but fuck it. It’s what I feel.
So what about people who are just in it for the money or the fame? I don’t know if they’re happy once they get it. UNLESS! Yep, there’s an UNLESS. Unless they then take their position of prestige and use it towards a higher purpose (i.e. charitable causes).
You want happy, then you’re gonna need purpose. And that purpose better be rooted in love of something.
I had a client say this to me, “what if I don’t have some big higher purpose? What if I’m just fine doing my job, which isn’t super rewarding but is fine. And then I’m just fine coming home and watching Netflix?” (can you hear the smirking, and the air quotes around “higher purpose”?).
Here’s how I responded. “That IS fine, if it’s fine with YOU. BUT getting crystal clear on your unique purpose allows you to set firm boundaries about what you will and won’t do with you’re the valuable time in your life – including watching Netflix.”
Well, THAT was music to her ears. Because this client – let’s call her Sarah -struggled to say no to people, even when she wanted to. She worried about disappointing people. And she often avoided confrontation based on her unclear boundaries. If Sarah knew her mission in this life, she could quickly and easily judge opportunities based on whether they aligned with her purpose, and confidently say NO THANK YOU. And that feels so friggin good.
But I’d like to take it a step farther here. You are 100% worthy of a higher purpose. You are worthy of more than simply gutting out a day job and then going home and watching Netflix. There are no mistakes in this world, and the universe did not create you for the sole purpose of clocking in and out and then streaming movies until you die. THE UNIVERSE CREATED YOU TO MANIFEST LOVE IN YOUR OWN EXTRAORDINARY WAY.
Yes, we need jobs to make money. So if you have your purpose — if you’ve isolated what you are good at, what you are passionate about, what you think the world needs and the world doesn’t value it (YET)…Well, that last part sucks right now. I get it.
You are either a pioneer or a genius and the world isn’t ready for your offering yet. If this is the case, then you are gonna have to turn that unique purpose into your side hustle, and possibly keep that day job to pay bills. That’s ok. Why not?
And if you have that true blind passion for it, then spend every second pouring your heart and soul into the side hustle, and only every once in awhile, pour it into Netflix. Cool?
You are worthy; you are meant to do great things. What is your great thing? That’s bigger than watching Netflix. That’s bigger than you! You can read an entire book about it, that I love, called “Start with WHY” (Simon Sinek) or here’s an easy way to consider it – especially if you are an analytical person – by using my VAO Personal Mission Statement equation:
VERB (DO WHAT?)
AUDIENCE (WHO ARE YOU HELPING?)
OUTCOME (WHY? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I DO THIS?)
Here are a couple of examples to warm you up:
A medical researcher might have a personal mission statement like this:
“To develop next generation diagnostics (VERB) to provide a better life (OUTCOME) for patients (AUDIENCE).”
A life coach might write this kind of mission statement (full disclosure: this is mine):
“To motivate and empower (VERB) clients (AUDIENCE) to courageously take chances and make change for more gratification & success at work and in life (OUTCOME). And to live/lead by example.”
Why don’t you give it a try now for yourself?
We all have a unique purpose on this planet. Find out what yours is, and start moving towards it.
I’ll end with my favorite Marianne Williamson quote:
“…We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do…It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
So, for the greater good of the world (and for love – which we need more of) – shine!