By age 6, both of my daughters knew they wanted to do with their life. This was shocking to me. My eldest is now almost 16 and my youngest is 11. At this point, both daughters are walking steadily along their life’s path and truly have a clear sense of purpose. I watch them both with awe and wonder as having this knowledge has shaped every choice they’ve made in school and how they spend a good part of their waking hours.
To be clear, I don’t think this scenario is the norm. In fact, I think it quite rare and I also think I won the parent lottery. It took me until age 40 to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and it wasn’t until the spring of 2014 that I finally had the courage to quit a secure corporate job to finally become a full-time entrepreneur. I talked about it, and dreamed about it, and even had a TV show for two seasons that focused on people who did it. I, on the other hand, dallied with the concept for THREE full years before taking that final next step.
All this to say that the idea of finding your purpose is a huge one. It takes time and a commitment to digging deep by asking yourself some hard-core questions — questions that strike at the heart of who you are and exposure your soft pink underbelly. Dare I say it…they reveal your…vulnerability.
On my January 7th episode of Your Authentic Life, I have the pleasure of interviewing Gerry Visca. Gerry is regarded internationally as Canada’s Creative Coach. He has a gift for unleashing WHY power within Fortune 500 leaders and inspiring entrepreneurs. He has impacted over 100,000 people across 10 countries and through his World WHY tour.
On my show, Gerry and I are going to dig deep and explore the WHY questions to help you examine or reconnect with how you’re spending your days. The critical point is that I think it is more about how we spend our time on important things each day that adds up. Ask yourself: Are you doing things that are important to you or are you just doing things?
You can go through life with comfort and complacency or you can lean into your life and bring your best game every day. No one said it would be easy. In fact, Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “What is to give light must endure burning.”
To supplement my interview with Gerry, here are a five questions I ask my clients to answer when they are looking for direction and purpose:
1)”Imagine money was no object, how would you spend your day?” Or put in another way, “If you were given the gift of the perfect day, how would you spend it and why?”
2) “What gets you so lost in something that you forget to eat and sleep?” Or “What do you do that gets you in a state of flow so that time seems to fly by and you could keep doing what you’re doing forever?”
3) Knowing that even engaging in what we love has some more challenging or not fun aspects to it, “What could you do that even if it felt like work, you could still do it knowing that there were so many upsides to all the other aspects of it?” (I call this eating a poo-sandwich.) Insert your own profanity…my girls don’t let me swear.
4) Doing what you love creates a sense of vulnerability and that may prevent you from pursuing it. Fear can hold power if you feed it. So, the question is, “What could you do that even if you were exposed to embarrassment repeatedly in order to get better at it, you would still want to do it?” No one starts off doing what they love without running into road blocks or making mistakes. Examine if you are holding yourself back because you’re afraid of what others will think of you or if you are afraid of your own success. If you are not doing what you want because of what others will think of you, you’re robbing yourself of your own happiness. “If you were age 6 and you asked yourself same question, would your answer be different?”
5) This is the corny question, but it is important so please stay with me. “You’ve been told you have one year to live. Fast forward one year from today. You are on your deathbed and are writing your own obituary. What would you want to write about yourself?” Purpose is about how you sent time on important things that made a difference for you but also helped others through your efforts. Do you want to write, Here lies me, the person who watched every episode of the Gilmore Girls 5 times?
The bottomline is that purpose comes down to making choices that are right for you and taking time for daily self reflection. Do what you love and you won’t be driven by the fear of embarrassment or what others think of you. You’ve got incredible gifts that the world is waiting to see. Don’t rob us of your talents. Take the leap. Connect with what lights you up and do things that are important to you, every day. Then you’ll be living your authentic life.