Simplify your quest with my model for purpose that allows for a more focused approach.
I have difficulty with the word 'purpose'. It's an ambiguous and opaque term. It lacks clear meaning since it has no connection to the physical world. In this piece, I want to give you a better model to work with.
[[I've written before about how I think "finding your purpose" is a bad metaphor (developing or uncovering are better words) and why the importance placed upon it inhibits learning about it.]]
Purpose has so many connotations. It's your life's work. It's that what's uniquely yours to do. It’s the thing that's bigger than yourself. Or that you really like doing. The thing that you’re most passionate about creating.
So which one is it? It’s all of those! But when you try to get answers to all at the same time it gets very confusing.
That's why I want to break it apart into more concrete building blocks that can be examined individually. Splitting the objective up in 4 smaller and more concrete goals makes it more attainable and tangible.
And for something so complex, I think it has a surprisingly simple structure.
These are my 4 building blocks of purpose. The 4 elements of your work and life that drive fulfillment.
- Passion - That what you love doing.
- Mastery - That what you are really good at.
- Values - That what you find important.
- Mission - That what you want your life to build up to.
These 4 have overlap. But a clean cut is not the point. The point is to give you 4 more concrete things to focus on, on your journey inwards.
Enjoying the activity itself. Having an interest in a field, topic, and challenges. Good people to work with.
Now, passion is also a big word. So, don't look for it itself. Instead, focus your attention on its seeds. Passion starts out by simply being an interest, something you enjoy doing. The more you do something, the more it will develop into a passion.
The more experience you get in doing something, the more nuanced your understanding becomes as to what elements of it you are passioned about. This allows you to look past the initial description of work and bringing it back to first principles. Knowing these, you can find them in many other fields of work; broadening the things you can do with passion.
Another driver of fulfillment is doing something you're good at, the love for the craft, and the growth connected to mastering a skill.
Just as passion, you're not a master of something overnight. It requires practice. To figure out what you could become a master in, have a look at things that come easy for you and that you have an aptitude or talent for.
The phrase "Follow your passion" has been used so much, it's become a cliche. Often, however, the opposite is true. Here I've written about the case to follow your talent rather than passion to enjoy what you do.
Based on your experiences in life so far, you'll develop a set of values. These are things you find important because you've developed the belief that these will bring you pleasure. That's because they've done so in the past. (And vice versa, you have a set of anti-values that you believe will bring you pain.)
What you do in life needs to be in line with your values for it to have meaning to you. Being in line with your values means that it obeys the rules you have as to what needs to happen in order for you to feel __ (insert value).
Your values and your rules are not set in stone. They change because of experiences or because you decide to value something more/less from now on. So set them up in a way that they empower you!
A great simple way to make a start in finding out more about your values is by simply brainstorming for 30 minutes on the question:
"What do you value most in life?"
What is the higher goal you are striving toward? What do you dream of accomplishing, doing, realizing in life?
Now, you don’t become happy by what you get or the goals you achieve. But by who you have become to reach them. So, ask yourself "Who do you want to become?".
An essential way to increase the fulfillment you get out of life is to make your mission about contributing to others. So, who do you do it for? What do all those people need? How do these people change or transform as a result of what you give them?
Interlinked Passion and Talent
Passion and Mastery are interlinked. Increasing one will also expand the other. The more interest you have in a topic or skill, the easier it becomes to practice and to become better at it. And the better you are at something, the more fun it will become.
Interest, Joy & Aptitude can develop into Knowledge, Experience and Skill. Which, with more development, lead to Wisdom, Passion and Mastery.
Tuning Values and Mission
Your mission needs to be an extension of your values. Like a tower being build on a crooked foundation, you'll collapse if you do big things for the wrong reasons. So, pick a mission that matches your current values. Or, you can work to adopt new values and beliefs that fit your mission better.
When in line, the higher your mission and the deeper your meaning, the further it can reach and resonate with other people. People react to truth (deep meaning) and ambitious goals. And they can smell a second agenda and superficial goals a mile away.
Thanks for reading!
I hope this gives more clarity when thinking about purpose. If so, clapping along or sharing the article really helps others find it too. Both would be much appreciated!
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I use this model in my Masterclass Aligning with Purpose. Want to really get to work on this with me? Want more focus and clarity in your life and work? Want to adopt the right mindset in approaching developing your purpose?