If listening to your gut tells you what to avoid, how do you figure out what you should be doing?! Let’s get this out up front – there is no easy way, no one stop purpose shop. This is one of those cliche journeys that aren’t about reaching the destination. And yet, the fact that this is a cliche doesn’t change the fact that it is incredibly important for us to discover our purpose. It also doesn’t make it any easier.
So, where do we start? Grab a pen and paper and let’s start scribbling!
What do you like doing?
As simple of a start as you could hope for. Write down a list of the things you really enjoy doing. What are the things that make you lose track of time when you are doing them? What are the things you look forward to doing? When we design our lives to include the things we enjoy doing suddenly work doesn’t feel so much like work.
What are you good at doing?
Scribble down all the things you are good at. Whether you are just a ‘natural’ for it, or went to school for it. You might not necessarily LOVE doing these things, but they are the skills you know you’ve got in the bag. These are the things that are easy for you to do, and where you provide a lot of value to people.
What things can’t you help doing?
What are the awesome things you end up doing without realizing it? Some of you are always the life of the party, some of you are the one that others always end up going to for advice. Some of us can’t help but hosting random dance parties. What are the things that you do all the time without thinking about it? Although we might sometimes view these are ‘weaknesses’, in reality they are expressions of our true selves. That makes them strengths.
What do you want to learn how to do?
Aligning your passions with what you want to learn is a surefire way to get more gratification out of that endeavor. Have you ever been so fired up to learn something that you stayed up until two in the morning working on it, and ended up feeling super engergized afterward? It’s awesome! Now imagine having that be part of your daily life. That’s what ends up happening when our learning goals are integrated into choices.
What do you WANT to be doing?
This is the scary one to put down on paper. Write down what you actually want to be doing. If there were no chance of failure, and no downside to trying, what would you do? If you were to quit your job and be guaranteed a job doing something else, what is that something else? This is a no-holds-barred free for all jam session to figure out what all of those deeply-held desires are.
Identify where they overlap.
Now take your list and brainstorm. If only for 15 minutes, don’t let any boundaries hold you back. Start writing down jobs/events/places/people next to each item for how/where you could use it. If you want to learn how to do public speaking, where could you talk in front of a (big or small) group of people? Want to help immigrants learn english? What type of place does that?
After you’ve got ideas next to all of your list items, look for the overlap. Where could you take skills you already have and bridge into what you want to learn? Where does what you want to be doing overlap with what you can’t help but doing? Get creative!
Your purpose won’t find you magically by writing down a list of things and then staring at it. The only way to make change is to make changes. So get out there, step into the discomfort, and try something different on for size. Pick one of your overlapping spots and find a way to turn it into a side hustle, volunteer your passion as a way to test drive it, use your friends as your test audience, whatever you have to do in order to start trying it out. It might not end up working (but it might!) and that’s okay! At least you are making progress.