For a long time, I wasn’t clear on what the hell my purpose was.
I had all of these passions and interests, and no idea how they fit together. I’d had all of these diverse experiences—sometimes traumatic ones—with no real indication of how that fit into a bigger picture.
And, when I actually did try to pursue what I thought was my purpose, it’d either leave my unhappy or—more likely—not even work in the first place.
I had no idea what my purpose was.
And it’s so goddamn frustrating to walk around aimless. Especially when you’ve had successes in life—when, from the outside, it looks like you’ve got your life somewhat together.
Was I just ungrateful? Was I perpetually broken?
I was desperate to discover that purpose. So, I did what we do in the age of the internet—I Googled.
I bought books. I bought courses. I hired coaches.
And I can tell you this hands-down with absolute certainty: most life purpose advice sucks.
See, no matter how different a webinar or course promised to be, every single life purpose discussion usually ended up one of two ways:
1. Super general, like, “Your life purpose is to love”—which, cool. Totally agreed. But how is that going to help me make sense of that trauma, or know what I want to do with my life, or even understand why I’m unhappy?
As wonderful as this avenue goes, in some ways it kind of feels like a cop-out. And I usually walk away with no more clarity than I walked in with.
2. Super specific and achievable (and often job-oriented), like, “Based on your interests and passions, your life purpose is to be a writer.” Which is, at least, personalized. But what about my purpose when I’m not writing. This doesn’t really help me with relationships. And did I just not have a purpose when I was a baby?
It also doesn’t give me much indication about what to write about. Or how to use my writing to feel purposeful. So, again, not all that helpful.
The truth is that most life purpose advice sucks because it fundamentally misunderstands what life purpose means.
The word purpose doesn’t mean “what,” it means “why.” And we’re all talking about purpose like it’s a “what.” Like it’s something we can achieve.
But, if we can achieve it, that also means we can fail it. And that’s the real danger with most life purpose advice: it reiterates shame.
Because inevitably, when something doesn’t go to plan, we’re going to feel really ashamed. And think we failed our purpose. Or we’re “off our purpose.”
Here’s the thing about being “on” or “off” your purpose: it doesn’t make sense.
You’re still alive. You’re still breathing. I’m pretty sure you matter and have a purpose.
If we keep talking about life purpose as content that we can be achieved, then no matter how general or specific we see purpose as, it’s always going to let us down.
The goal posts will always move. And it will constantly reiterate our self-worth issues.
It makes us believe that we can achieve our way to more and more purpose.
“If I can just write this next book, then I’ll be more of a writer and therefore have more of a purpose. If I can just be a bestseller, then I’ll step more into my purpose.”
And on and on as we fight to keep achieving to feel purposeful.
But there’s a different way to talk about life purpose—one that actually includes all of your experiences. Your desires and trauma and sensitivities and gifts and yearnings and genius.
And it has nothing to do with achieving anything. It’s not limited to your job or business. And it’s actually actionable to help you know the exact steps that will make you feel purposeful in any given moment.
We can talk about purpose as what it truly means: the “why,” the reason, the underlying mechanism behind everything you do.
Your life purpose isn’t that you’re meant to be a life coach; it’s why being a life coach feels purposeful to you.
Your life purpose isn’t that you’re meant to be with your partner; it’s why this marriage feels so fulfilling to you.
And it’s the same why over and over again across every aspect of your life. It’s the unique lens through which you experience the world. It’s what you’re most sensitive to. And it’s been apparent in every situation in your life.
Trust me—you’re not “all over the place.” No matter how different your jobs or relationships or experiences have been, they all have a common thread. And that’s what we call a life purpose.
In Sacred Branding®, which is our proprietary methodology for helping people to discover their own life purpose, we map all of those experiences and begin to code them with language—and then reduce all of that language in a systematic way to just 5 or 6 core themes that we call ‘Brand Energies.’
And it gives us so much more freedom and artistic expression in everything we do.
For example, let’s say Vulnerable is one of those ‘Brand Energies.’ There are endless ways you could choose to step into that purpose.
You could write vulnerable blog posts, be more open and honest in your relationships, create a business brand around vulnerability, start going to therapy.
There are literally endless ways to step into your purpose. But we know for a fact that every single one of these ways is going to lead you to success and happiness—by design.
And, furthermore, you can look back at your “past failures” and see why they didn’t work out. Maybe there wasn’t space for you to be vulnerable in your relationship. Maybe you felt like you had to play a part in that business.
You can start to see that the friendships that were so successful for you were the ones that allowed you to be vulnerable. You can see why you loved that job at a safety net hospital serving the most vulnerable populations.
Everything in your life starts clicking.
Because purpose means “why.” It doesn’t mean “what.”
We need to start a revolution where we’re no longer allowing ourselves to feel “too much” and “not enough.” No longer telling ourselves that we’re broken or wrong or fucked up. That we have to “achieve” in order to have purpose or be worthy.
Until I understood my purpose—my real “whys” behind everything—I was doomed to constantly feel “all over the place” and always try to desperately achieve my way to purpose.
It’s time to flip the script and realize that we’ve always had a purpose. Every moment of our lives clicks together in a perfect puzzle. And that purpose is the unique genius that only we have. The way we’re going to transform the world.
*If you want to discover your own essence and ‘Brand Energies,’ you’re welcome to explore our proprietary Sacred Branding® methodology.