Self-leadership week 3 (locked)
Self-leadership week 4 (locked)
Self Leadership: Week 2
Five steps to help you uncover your purpose
Regardless of any particular spiritual tradition or philosophical base, there’s enormous psychological value in having a clearly defined, customised purpose. Once we’ve found our goals and intentions, opportunities to achieve our purpose will start to show up—perhaps they were there all along, we just weren’t looking in the right places.
— Brene Brown
Welcome to week two! I hope last week’s reading and activity on purpose has given you some food for thought—helped along by all those tasty, energising snacks in the nutrition plan. This week, we’re taking a deep dive into the reflection process to help you move forward on your journey to a purpose-driven life.
Choosing the purpose that’s right for you
It’s fair to say that, as modern women living in a peaceful first world country, most of us are absolutely spoiled for choice in almost every aspect of our lives. And while generally this abundance of options is viewed as a positive, it can also be a double-edged sword.
This phenomenon is called the ‘tyranny of choice’, and it can be truly crippling. And it doesn’t just apply to picking your dessert out of the 24 flavours of speciality gelato at your local gelateria. It applies to some of those big, chunky life questions too. Like purpose.
If we can truly do anything with our one wild and precious life, then how do we decide on the right thing? The thing that is going to give our lives meaning? That’s a weighty decision.
In his well-known work, psychologist Barry Schwartz, calls this choice paralysis. He argues that more choices make us less likely to take action, and to be less satisfied with our eventual decision. With so many great options, we can only blame ourselves if we’re not meeting our own standards, and we engage in frequent regret about the roads not taken.
Firstly, it doesn’t have to be just one thing. When many of us feel stuck in the search for our purpose, it’s because we tend to create the false belief there is one single thing we are meant to be doing until the day we die. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves and results in the choice paralysis described above.
More often than not, your ‘thing’ will change multiple times throughout your life. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s a sign of growth!
Here are five steps to kickstart the reflection process in your journey towards a purpose-driven life.
Step 1: Find out what drives you
One way to get closer to your purpose is by considering the things that ignite a passion or strike a chord for you. What pain or injustice or unhappiness have you witnessed that compels you to try and make a difference? Is there anything that really gets to the heart of who you are and what you value?
Step 2: Find out what captivates you
When’s the last time you were so engrossed in something that time passed in an instant? Think back. What were you doing?
What did you love doing as a child? We have a tendency to lose touch with that stuff—we’re taught that if it isn’t something that will lead to a financially stable career, it’s not a worthwhile pursuit. But often, those favourite childhood pursuits are a good indicator of where our true passions lie.
Step 3: Find out what you would be willing to sacrifice for
Despite the fact that living in pursuit of your purpose will increase health and wellbeing, it isn’t a one-way ticket to paradise. There will be hard days, hard weeks, hard months, perhaps even hard years, as you work towards your purpose.
Your purpose might mean financial sacrifice or a large pay cut—say, returning to university to finally get that masters you’ve been toying with for years. Your purpose might mean sacrificing some of that valuable family or social time that really fills your cup to work on your start-up business. Whatever your purpose looks like, there’s no doubt it will contain an element of sacrifice. So it follows that your purpose has to be something that is worth the sacrifice—to you.
Step 4: Find out who (or what) you want to help
Who do you want to help? Think back to Step 1—what group of people (or plants, or animals) came to mind in Step 1, suffering from pain or injustice? Is it students in low socio-economic areas without access to up-to-date school resources? Is it communities without access to clean drinking water, or women who are victims of domestic violence? Is it your local community or family that you want to help be the best they can be?
There’s no right or wrong here—what’s important is that it’s true to you. Defining the people you want to help is another step towards uncovering your purpose.
Step 5: Find out how you want to help
How is it that you will help the people you want to help? To find your purpose, you need to figure out how you can best use your passions and skills to achieve your unique goals and solve your unique problems.
I went into this step in more detail in this week’s video, because it’s a big one!
Uncovering your strengths
Write the question, ‘What are my gifts?’ on five index cards. Give them to five people who know you well and ask them to write their response to the question on the card. Put them all together in a place where you can see them. What theme or thread do you see?
Feeling brave? Share one (or all) of your gifts with the FB group!
Uncovering your passions
As you move through your week, start by noticing the things that you are naturally attracted to and enjoy doing. The small things, the big things, the in-between things.
Even if it’s something you’ve never done before—maybe you’ve always been drawn to or curious about this activity or pursuit but felt too embarrassed or scared to try it. Now’s the time to let it take up a bit of space in your head, and on the page. No matter how small, or even how wild or unimaginable it might seem. Write it down.
The more we identify and follow our interests and desires, the more we are met with opportunities that will support us as we travel these paths.