I believe it's inspiring and powerful to work toward a purpose greater than ourselves. This purpose should be our life-calling that’s going to motivate us each day and make a difference in the lives of those around us. But where are we supposed to look for this purpose?
When I consider this in my own life, it’s easy for me to get caught up in what the world needs. Children are dying needlessly every day. Sea levels are rising. Communities are terrorized by militant groups. The upper crest of society is extracting more and more wealth from everyone else. When I dive into any of these big, pressing issues, I get wrapped up the, “I’ll do whatever it takes” mindset.
But, that doesn’t get us any closer to our purpose. It sounds romantic to “do whatever it takes,’ but the reality is that big problems don’t have one solution. They’re complex and require many solutions over time. This may sound daunting, but I think it’s liberating. The biggest problems need all of us to chip in, regardless of what we can give.
So with the peace of mind that my purpose will be relevant to the problems I care most about, I turned to myself to find purpose. What am I passionate about? What are my core strengths? Now, I’m a growth-mindset person through and through, but I will concede that we all have skills and abilities that simply flourish without us having to work at them very much. That’s how I like to define core strengths.
But what I’ve found is that my strengths don’t exactly align very well with my sense of purpose. I’m very good at communicating over a variety of mediums, but it’s not necessarily my life-calling. Communicating might be how I advance my purpose, but what am I driven to communicate about?
So if external factors are largely irrelevant and strengths don’t quite get us there either, where can we look for our purpose?
In a workshop series that I’m a part of facilitated by Allie Armitage, she asked the group to define our core strengths and core values separately. Our core strengths – as I explained before – are what we’re naturally inclined to be good at. Our core values, on the other hand, are the aspects of our lives that are most important to us. Core values could be security, adventure, vulnerability, authenticity, service or happiness. These values guide our tough decisions and energize us when we act them out.
Looking at my core values, something dawned on me. Maybe our purpose is to give others what we most want for ourselves. It makes sense that the things we care most about in our own lives are the same things we’re most inspired to give the rest of the world.
I’m not declaring some irrefutable wisdom, just an idea that’s been sticking with me over the last couple weeks. What are a couple values that are most important to you? How does the prospect of giving them to the world resonate with you?