How To Find Your Purpose (Or At Least Something Better Than You're Doing Now)
"Life is hard, stressful, and a massive amount of work. Doing something you love doesn't remove this, it just makes it worth it."
You hate your job. It takes all your energy and drains your soul. The reward and meaning you derive from it is no where near the amount of effort and stress you put in to it. And at the same time you find it monotonous, dry, and boring. You feel you should be doing something more important, more enjoyable, and more meaningful, but you just cant figure out what would be better nor how to do it.
Does this describe you? Then this article will give you five strategies that will help.
Before we start, something important to know about this whole process (a “tip #0” if you like):
95% of people aren't pursuing their passion. And that's because they know it's a crazy amount of work to figure out what it even is and far more than that to then execute on it. So they've chosen to just be content with complacency and mediocrity.
You on the other hand, you rascal, well you're a freak. But you're a good kind of freak. The kind who knows they are meant for something bigger, better, more impactful. And you're in good company. You freaks are the only ones who actually change things around here!
So don't feel discouraged that you haven't found “your thing” just yet. You will. And you'll do it in record time if you use the below strategies. Let’s get to number one.
1. Use The Ikigai Formula
According to the Japanese concept of Ikigai, our "reason for being" must be a synergy of four components:
What you love
What you're good at
What you can be paid for
What the world needs
Study and internalize this diagram. Which ones do you have? Which ones are you missing? Refer back to this with all the following exercises.
2. Brainstorm What You Love
If you're reading this, you likely already have "good at", "paid for" and even a little "world needs" covered, but you're missing "what you love" and thus are stuck in the "comfortable but empty" camp.
To find what we love, we must expand upon what we like.
Write down a list of twenty five things you enjoy doing. Visualize what it would look like to do each of these for a living. Then examine the ways in which they relate to each other.
Would you be happy doing any of these things alone? If not, how might they tie together to create something unique? What are some of the underlying traits about you that make each appealing? How can you leverage and potentially expand on these traits? You can multiply the effectiveness of this even further by using the next technique.
3. Ask "Your Customers" What They Value About You
Life is not a single player game, and this applies to our passion as much as it does to anything else. To get paid, we must provide value to customers.
"But I don't have any customers” you may be saying. Wrong. You do, just not necessarily in the way you think.
Your friends, your family, your boss, your coworkers, the people you manage, etc are all your "customers". They are "paying"— with time, energy, money, investment, affection, trust, etc—for "your services"—your skills, consistency, drive, compassion, charisma, creativity, etc. All you need to do is isolate these services and then figure out how you can leverage them better.
Ask your 5 biggest "customers"—the people who see you as the most valuable—what makes them put up with you. Ask them what they see as your ten best qualities, and then cross reference these with your previous list.
Make this even more effective by also asking them what your biggest weaknesses are, so you can mitigate or avoid these as much as possible.
4. Remove Fear From The Equation
After the first techniques—or sometimes long before—we have a vague notion of what we'd truly love doing, but cannot fully access or pursue it because its buried deep under a big fat mountain of fears.
"What if I can't support myself?" "What if people think it’s stupid?" "What if my friends and family think I’m crazy?" "What if it’s not actually helpful?" "What if I make a fool of myself?" "What if I fail?" The list goes on.
Articulating these fears and overcoming them is critical to finding our passion. But even just figuring out what they are—let alone actually solving them—can take years. This starter question should help cut through the noise though:
"If I was guaranteed to become a millionaire, change the world, and have everyone absolutely love the heck out of what I'm doing, What would it be?"
Often just realizing that we don’t have the wrong vision but instead are just terrified to pursue it can give us the courage to finally take the plunge.
5. Find Something "Good Enough" And Commit To It 100%
No one finds their passion on the first try. In fact, it is through working your butt off toward something that ultimately isn’t your passion that causes you to find out what is.
Life is hard, stressful, and takes an ungodly amount of work. Doing something you love doesn't remove this, it just makes it worth it.
Pursuing your passion is going to be scary and hard and the only way you'll make the jump is if you're 100% sure that nothing else will make you happy.
So if it’s not time to take the full jump, or you’re just still missing clarity: find something that’s just better than where you’re at now and commit to it fully.
This will help you:
Build skills, experience, and wisdom that will make you way more effective for when you do pursue your passion.
Find dozens of new avenues and opportunities to move further toward something even better.
Deletes the “what if” factor that will keep you stuck. Either this “good enough” really is good enough forever, or it’s not and you now no longer have to guess.
Ensures that you’re extracting as much opportunity, growth, and results from your effort as you can muster.
To finish this off I want to leave you with a final tidbit of wisdom:
The gap between you and happiness is not a number of days. It is a number of actions.
You might want to procrastinate this, and put it off. Because it is going to be hard. But know:
The steps you'll need to take will not be any different if you do it now or in five years. It’s not going to get any easier the longer you wait. In fact, it will likely become harder as you pile on more and more obligations to your life.
You have two choices:
Take action now and spend a few months extra miserable, but doing something way better only a year from now.
Or don’t and spend several years miserably doing the same old same old until you finally realize that the mountain isn’t getting shorter and you’re still mucking around at the base of it.