Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical Watercolour

Life purpose

Your life purpose is not that complicated

Self Developmentphoenixarttally

Art-feeds-my-soul_arttally Your life purpose is not that complicated, after all.

Hundreds of thousands of books have been written on the subject of finding your life purpose. For many of us it is the pursuit of a lifetime. While they say that the unexamined life is not worth living, I am finding that too much examining is not much of life either.

So it is with considerable relief that I stumbled upon some of the most helpful advice I have found so far on a topic I spend a good deal of time pondering. The Teal Swan explains that all of us ultimately have the same life purpose - to find joy.  And that to find your ‘passion’ and what you should be doing with your life all you really need to do is follow what brings you joy.

"Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all" Robert Louis Stevenson

Identifying your life purpose doesn't have to be some grand decision or declaration about the whole of your life. It can be as simple as using this question in order to make the simplest decisions in your every day life. That is information I can use. A structure I can implement. It makes so much more sense to me. Pyramids aren't built in one sweeping gesture, great novels aren't written in a day. They build over time, stone by stone, word by word.

So if you want to know if you are living your life ‘on purpose’, all you need to do is ask yourself ‘what can I do today to bring joy?’. As a guiding principle this really works for me. Trying to identify and articulate your personal values, your passion, your purpose seems daunting. Overwhelming. But when trying to decide whether to say yes or no to an offer you receive, whether to go to place A or place B, asking yourself which alternative brings you joy is much easier to implement. It is also a way to use your intuition. To try to tune in to your own inner voice and figure out what brings YOU joy. Not what you think you should choose, what you have been conditioned to believe is the ‘right’ thing to do. Far easier to do this in each small specific circumstance than to try and identify one grand impressive purpose. One big thing that you are supposed to achieve in your life.

And then slowly, just like each one of those stones in the pyramid or words in the novel, these little choices made by following your joy, show you what your life purpose is. Because life is how we pass each day, not just our grandest achievements. Making the small decisions in line with the guiding principle of what brings you joy will lead you to your grand achievements.

3 problems with following your passions

Self Developmentphoenixarttally
Mixed media journal page created in Jane Davenport's online class Create Emotion

There was a rather annoying woman I used to work with who used to trot about saying irritating things like,  " Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life".  Well yes. That is what Confucius said. Clearly no one sets about looking for a job they don't like. Do they? If you have reached one of those flat spots in your life and are wondering how to shake things up a bit, it won't be long before you are advised to 'follow your passions'. If you are considering a career change the advice is usually to think of the things you choose to do in your spare time and consider pursuing those more seriously. In other words, think about your hobbies. What you choose to do as a hobby is what lights your fire, makes your life fun and enjoyable. Hobbies give you a break from the routine. They decrease stress - the bad kind, and promote eustress - the good kind, which gives you enough of a challenge to feel excited about what you are doing. There is the possible sense of accomplishment, without a lot of pressure. The fun is in knitting the beanie with your own two hands... it doesn't really matter if turns out to be hideous, does it? Presumably we are all agreed that work should ideally be fun. Something we enjoy. Something we actually want to do. So making your hobby into your job can only be a good thing. Or can it?  I see at least three problems: 1.  Making your hobby into work might just be a major passion killer

Before money is involved, your hobby is a low risk, low pressure endeavour. As soon as you have to do it, and when you are depending on some income from it, it just might lose its charm. 
On the other hand, if it is a true 'passion' (and gee, I don't like that word), perhaps this is just the ultimate test. My inner cynic reckons on the former.
2.  Your hobby might not actually be a viable career
Hobbies are designed for fun, not commercial value. One of the great things about a hobby is that you don't necessarily have to be terrific at it. Nor does anyone else have to appreciate your hobby. As long as it is an activity that you do do for pleasure and/or relaxation, it counts as a hobby. The dictionary says so. 
Of course, with a bit of creative thinking, hopefully you can massage your hobby into monetisation.  In What is Your What, Steve Olsher points out that to do so, requires that you find the intersection of these 3 things:
  • what you love to do
  • what you are good at
  • what someone will pay you to do
3.  If you turn your hobby into a job, you need a new hobby
You had a hobby you loved. You managed to turn it into work. Now you do that thing all the time. You have to - it's how you earn a living. But to stay healthy and positive and maintain your sense of well being you need a break from all this. A way to relax. Play. Have some fun. What you need is a.... hobby!!
Don't get me wrong. You have to be able to enjoy your work.But it is not as simple as turning a hobby into a job. That is probably a good start. But work is ... well... work. Doing what you love doesn't automatically mean you will always love what you do.