“What is my purpose and why is it so difficult to see?” is a question I’m getting from many of new clients. It’s an important question I’ve spent years considering, both for myself and with the people I’ve worked with. Here is some of what I’ve learned…
It’s extremely useful to have a simple way to think about your purpose:
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
~~ Albert Einstein
Knowing your purpose at an intellectual level is helpful; knowing it in a simple and visceral way is key to navigating challenges and complex demands that would otherwise cause you to behave in ways that are not true to the highest and deepest version of yourself. Your purpose will become your guiding light.
I use the True Self center of the IAM Compass and the idea of your Best Self to evoke a clear and instinctive understanding of your “essential inner purpose,” by asking the question:
“What does it look like, feel like, taste like, or even smell like when you are at your best?”
I’ve asked this question of thousands of people for over 7 years now, and the responses are stunningly similar, no matter the age, education, consciousness, or location of the person. I’m convinced that all people can easily know their inner purpose. The following graphic shows the most common responses to my Best Self question:
Simply put, your essential purpose is to be happy and enjoy the abundance of life and living. The true nature of your self is light, playful, and fun. Your life journey is one of following the path of what brings you alive with a continuum of choices that ultimately creates what you want to experience in life. Eckhart Tolle simply calls your soul purpose “awakening.”
“When you feel alive is when you know it’s really you.”
~~ Anthony Robbins
You might be thinking, “This simple purpose is nice, but how does it help me know what path to follow with my career?” And, “what about my unique purpose?” Right! Now we get into the part of your question “Why is my life path so difficult to see?”
I’ll get to your unique purpose and career path, but first let’s look at what makes your purpose so difficult to see.
Signpost in blue sky with fluffy white clouds
There is an overlay of beliefs, cultural norms, and expectations that confuse your ability to express the true nature of your self, especially when it comes to work. Here are a few of my favorites:
You can’t always get what you want.
- Work requires sacrifice.
- Suffering is necessary.
- You are not worthy.
- Work is serious business.
- You should be seen and not heard.
- You can’t make money and be spiritual.
I could go on and on! What I want you to understand is that there are constant pressures and pervasive influences that counter what you already know about the true nature of your soul. I playfully call all of these things Drama; the cause of the constriction and contraction of your essence. Drama clouds your ability to trust what you already know about your purpose and impairs your ability to see what is actually possible in life.
The good news is that the confines of Drama also cause your soul to scream out, “I need room to breathe! I need a way to express myself!” All of this hollering is good and I know it’s why you are here reading this article.
So here’s the deal with being able to “see your purpose”: until you are able to clear out some of the clouds of Drama, you won’t be able to trust what you already know, and clearly understand and live your purpose. The place to start clearing is with the beliefs that say life, and especially work, are not fun and joyful. The inner most self, your best self, is all about being fun and joyful: when you are True Self aligned your experiences will likewise be the same.
Have doubts? Think again about what it looks like when you are at your best. Are you having fun when you’re at your best? Of course!
Drama needs to be cleared and at the same time you’ll want to understand how it serves you. I intentionally made Drama purple in the original version of True Self because it’s my favorite color and I wanted to remind people to not judge Drama as bad (which is typically what happens). Let me be clear: Drama is extremely useful! Royal even…
Drama is one of the ways to determine your unique outer purpose. The frustration, doubt, fear, and even hurt that are the source of Drama, are also clues to what you are longing to express, overcome, love, and heal.
For example, one of my major frustrations has been how the hierarchical structures of organizations and businesses are used by most individuals to incrementally allocate power in ways that leave people unable to realize their full potential at work. This frustration, along with many, many other clues, led me to realize that my unique purpose is to discover and create ways that people can experience healthy power in their work – ways that serve both the individual and an organization. Of course, my way of doing this is to have fun and enjoy the process!
Two of my favorite questions that make Drama useful in this way are:
What do you want to participate in creating in the world?
What do you want to change or improve in the world?
Look at any Drama you may be experiencing and ask yourself these two questions. In the inquiry, you will tap into the fiery passion that is an indicator of your life purpose in action and will ultimately allow you to move in a direction that is inspiring and meaningful to you.
Drama isn’t always a major factor when discovering your unique purpose. I recommend that you become more aware of ‘who you are’ at your best; this ensures that your career path is a positive expression of your purpose. The True North section of the IAM Compass is the tool we use to create this awareness, where you assess and determine the values, strengths, and motivations that are the highest and most unique articulation of your essential self.
Translating your inner purpose into a career path doesn’t have to be difficult. It wasn’t a stretch for me to see how my purpose, to “experience healthy power with work,” could be turned into a career, leadership, and business coaching career. What’s more challenging is overcoming the beliefs that can get in the way…
In my situation, traditional career counseling held literally zero appeal and it took me a long time to fully embrace career coaching as my path. I did not want to have anything to do with the usual process of guiding people to jobs in order to get a paycheck that ultimately left them feeling empty at the end of the day. Traditional career counseling contributes to a status quo way of working that I want to see changed, not contributed to! For a long time, I believed that “the old way” was my only option.
As is always the case, this quandary or “Drama” became my opportunity: to work with people who, like me, want something more for themselves and society. What I want for myself and others is the creative unveiling of our True Self at work. When I realized that there was a need for what I longed for, the True Self aligned career coach was born!
Bottom line: you will discover your life purpose by assessing your values, strengths, and motivations/passions, by learning from Drama, and by listening to the whispers of your soul.
There is so much more I could say and that I want to discuss with you on the topic of discovering your purpose, and clearing the way to a True Self aligned career path. For now, you can take a self-nourishing step by asking yourself:
What is it that I really, really, really want?
Consider this question from the perspective of your Best Self and not your Drama self. The “wants” I’d like you to tap into are the deepest creative longings of your Best Self, not the short-term, “make me feel better quick,” reactive “wants” of your fearful self.
How will you know the difference between your Best Self wants and Drama wants? The answer to this question is where a simple understanding of your inner purpose comes in handy.
An essential want will feel good, bring you alive, and be joyful and fun. Your Best Self is infinitely abundant, so your essential desires leave you feeling deeply satisfied, more than enough, and fulfilled. You feel aligned and balanced with an essential want.
On the contrary, fear based wants are driven by anxiety, worry, and doubt. Drama wants create stress: doubt about yourself, health problems, and the feeling of never being enough or having enough.
You may be so unfamiliar with your Best Self wants that following them may actually create Drama! Thus, the discernment process between your source of motivation can be very tricky. Over time, your essential path will become clear as you learn to be more and more familiar with what brings you pleasure and joy.
So many of you are saying that you don’t know what you want. This confusion is likely because most of you have been conditioned to suppress your wants in favor of serving the needs of others. It’s time to realize that you can best serve others through the authentic and powerful expression of your True Self!
Your creative desires and wants are actually the fullest revelation of your potential and purpose. It’s no longer necessary to choose between yourself and others. So let the unleashing of your wants begin! Ask yourself what you want over and over again, as much as you can, so you get really good at discerning and knowing your deepest heart-felt wishes.
It’s important to keep in mind that your purpose, both inner and outer, is not static. Like the ever changing waves of the ocean, the ongoing unfolding of your creative desires, along with the associated challenges you will encounter along the way, are the substance and inspiration of your life journey. Like an artist at work on a masterpiece, your life is the co-creative expression of your essential self, between you and the Universe. And your career is a very important element in this work of art!
Is there a step-by-step process for discovering and living your unique purpose in your career? Yes! These steps are:
- Connect with your inner purpose, your Being, so you create True Self alignment.
- Learn from Drama, including self-doubt, fear, and struggle so you get unstuck and reconnect with yourself.
- Shift to being the leader of yourself and your work instead of trying to become someone you are not.
- Discover your Best Self (your outer purpose) so you create fit between you and your work.
- Align with the energy of your Best Self so you take inspired action that maximizes your joy and impact.
- Understand the story of your life so you uncover what you were born to do and stay on a True Self aligned path.
- Sight your destination so that you can turn your dreams into focused, specific, and practical career goals.
- Collect the details of your True Self aligned career plan so you can be both tactical and strategic, and create healthy work environments.
- Learn and transform so you know how to handle chaos and uncertainty staying relevant in the process.
These are the steps that we walk you through in IAMX’s Leadership and Career Essentials Online Learning, steps that will uncover your unique purpose and launch you on a True Self aligned career path.
Learn more about IAMX’s Leadership and Career Essentials program here: