My plan this week was to explore how deliberately we support our purpose in life, presuming that we have already crossed the bridge to knowing what that is. I also had some thoughts about how our passions fit into our purpose when I read a post by Diana Schwenk on this topic and started a dialogue with her.
I had made a comment that indicated that my passions may be different from my purpose and Diana had challenged me: “Ian, I hope your purpose and passion are one!” I’ve been pondering that statement since, and as a result have shifted what I want to write about to this relationship between purpose and passion. There’s time next week to discuss the pursuit of purpose in full!
When we have uncovered our purpose, there is no setting it aside. It is always there, and at any point in time we likely know if we are in service of it. To be clear, I don’t think it is possible to be aligned with our purpose at all times – I just believe that it is always with us questioning softly how we intend to engage next.
For those that might be struggling with the idea of purpose and wondering if you have uncovered yours yet, I’d suggest that if you’re struggling with the concept your purpose hasn’t yet made itself known. If you are between the ages of 25-50, it is possible that the idea of purpose may not yet have elevated itself onto your internal radar. Generally, the quest for purpose is what fires up youth and allows adults to step off the treadmill of achievement to something more meaningful.
When you know your purpose, it will express itself succinctly. My purpose is a simple statement, which I have printed on the back of my business card as I want others to hold me accountable to it.
“Shifting the lives of people to the possibility of living and leading essentially”
I look at this multiple times every week and sit with it to make sure the deep drive in my soul is there, and then I often ask myself what I will do to serve my purpose today. That was to be my blog post today (now postponed to next week) where I would talk about ideas to serve our purpose each day.
What prompted this was that we are staying in a flat in Southern France in what I described as a “temporary relocation” last week – a time where we are trying not to be on vacation but experience a blurring of the life between that and life. What has become apparent is that it isn’t easy to focus on my life’s work when there are so many fascinating, new and beautiful distractions!
I still do regularly check in with myself on how I am serving my purpose, but I more regularly choose to set aside investment in my purpose to be able to pursue other passions. That perhaps requires more explanation.
As stated above, my purpose is to shift the lives of people to the possibility of living and leading essentially. First and foremost, I am passionate about doing so. When I am engaged with someone in that work, I will gain energy as opposed to expend energy and I am often so immersed in it that I can often lose track of time. So there is a passion involved in my purpose, and that is a passion for connecting authentically with people. There are a couple of other passions of mine that also relate to my purpose.
- Exploring. I love discovering new things. In working with others to help them create the shifts they desire in their lives, there is a curiosity involved. There are always new paths and alleys that appear to be followed. Just like in travel, one never knows where they lead. Sometimes they are paths back to where we’ve been before, but other times they open onto wonderful new discoveries.
- Building. For me, this is the art of taking known materials and assembling them in a way that has not been done before. The work of coaching is like this. We help uncover individual discoveries: a predominant emotion, a working pattern, a missing element in life are examples. True shifts come when these individual elements can be knit together into a pattern that is so obvious that we can then work to shift the pattern to something new, holding on to the good parts and letting go of those that don’t serve the client any longer.
So Diana is right that my purpose is supported by my passions. However, I have discovered that I also pursue my passions at times that aren’t in service of my purpose. For example, yesterday was a day of exploring. Both of small, windy roads through amazing terrain and a new city that had so many treasures waiting to be discovered around the next corner.
I have also come to realize that I have other passions that aren’t directly linked to my purpose. In my remarks to Diana, I referred to these as “worthwhile distractions”. Examples for me are photography, cooking and writing. I also get lost in these activities, letting time slip by without notice and feeling the pure energy of being my authentic self flow through me.
I won’t say that I don’t use these passions in support of my purpose. I write this blog as a way of contributing to the collective thought on living and leading essentially, and I often include my own photography in these blogs. But I’ve come to realize that my passions are there to fuel me!
These are activities that I use to connect deeply with myself, to nurture my soul and feed my creative muse. They allow me to express myself authentically and contribute to others. In short they enrich my life’s experience. I then use the energy I derive from such pursuits to fuel my purpose.
So after all of that, I admit that none of this is based on any theory I’ve read or has any other academic support. It just feels right to me. I’m curious to know how this lands with you. Do you know your purpose and your passions? Are they one and the same or do they serve you in different ways? Where does your energy for pursuit of purpose come from? Please add your thoughts to the dialog!