Want to Find Your Purpose? Look Backwards
Purpose. Big word. Deep breath, it’s going to be fine.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Bright-eyed, poorly ironed shirt and trouser combo with shoes that were a little bit too tight. But they were shiny, very shiny.
I entered the world of work.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d worked before. I’ve had my fair share of jobs. In total I’ve had 12 so far. I’m twenty-five so that’s pretty good going. But this was my first proper job.
Here I was. Ready to go, naive to the world of work. It was dull and grey outside but I didn’t care. I was working, can you see me mum? Look I’m doing it. I am at work. Doing work stuff.
After finding the right place to go and making sure I didn’t trip over on the way. A series of people introduced themselves to me. All of a sudden I was transported back my first day at University. Sat in a warm, red snot-covered theatre seat, ready to understand what this big, clever place was all about.
“Hi I’m Eve, I’m studying Biomedical Science”
But now, this was my first day of work, I’d evolved since Uni. Now it was: “Hi I’m Eve, I’m a grad.”
In many ways I’d completed step one — get a degree. And now I wasn’t Eve studying Biomed anymore, I was Eve the graduate. I’d grown.
My work identity had changed, it had built.
All of the ‘Things’ You’ve Been – Purpose
When I think of all the ‘things’ I’ve been in my life, the list is quite long.
Kennel staff member, Lifeguard, KFC worker, Camp Counsellor, Cleaner, Glass Collector, Venue Assistant, Project Manager, Team Leader, Product Designer.
My list is quite long and incredibly varied. And it does make me think about how much we have at our finger tips these days. How lucky I am to have tested out all these things to figure out who I am and what I enjoy to do with my time. It’s quite profound that I had done all of those things. I look back and have such fond memories of my working life. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a struggle but that is for another time. What I believe to be most interesting is the link between these seemingly unconnected times in my life.
What do a lifeguard and a KFC worker have in common? This sounds like the start to a weird joke… it’s not. They both have people in them. They are both a service. There is an element of teaching in them both. (teach people not to drown or behave recklessly near water, teaching people what is on the menu, what ingredients are in the food)
What we do is who we are, if we look closely we can figure out what parts of those things have stayed true throughout our lives, like the process on natural selection.
What have I naturally selected? People, adding value, being productive, teaching people.
Although It Wasn’t That Simple
To get to that answer took about 3 years.
It’s not until we step back that we see this link. It’s not until we take the time to reflect that actually looking back gives us all the answers we need. It’s a little bit like trying to solve your own crime.
There’s a scene: What do you seen when you look at the crime scene.
Picture your life up until this point.
There’s a series of people involved:Who are the neighbours that might have witnessed something? Who are the friends and family that know them best?
Who are your neighbours? Your colleagues at work that notice your weaknesses and strengths. Who know you best? Ask your family what they think you are good at.
What’s the surrounding evidence? What’s the history of the victim.
What’s your story so far? What’s lead you to question your life and to try and figure out who you want to be?
And lastly. What the motive? Why would someone want to do this?
What’s your motive? Why are you trying to find your purpose? Is it for someone else, it is for you, is it because you don’t think you are good enough right now?
There’s a series of clues along the way at the scene and leading up to the event that you can look to and seek information from.
Who have you know the longest, who can you ask what you are good at?
Change is good, it’s Evolution
The cycle of figuring out your purpose
We all change.
Everyday we are changing. We discover, we test, we learn and we evolve. That is the beauty in the human race. We are creatures of evolution. Our lives are evolving. Every time you try a new spice that dances on your tongue in a way you’ve never felt before. Every time you read a new line, structured in a way you’ve never seen before. We discover, we test, we learn and we evolve.
But it’s not always that we notice. Most people forget what they did in their day. We forgot 90% of what we do in our day after a month. So today, in a month’s time you’ll forgot 90%. And it makes sense, our heads would be spilling over with neurological connections. But the trouble is, if we don’t consciously try and remember the stuff that makes our work days happier. Well, the inevitable happens, we find ourselves getting mad at the same stuff, frustrated with the same problems and wound up about the same politics.
We need to learn to discover, test, learn and evolve. Finding your purpose takes time.
Couple that with the impatient minds of the millennial generation (through no fault of our own) and get a recipe for, sadly, a mental health disaster.
So my advice is you are pressuring yourself into finding your purpose?
Take a step back and look at your history — what things have stayed consistent in your life?
Ask the people around you what you are good at — treat it like a crime scene: assess, look for clues, ask people.
Embrace change — but make sure you discover, test, learn and evolve.