It’s Motivational Monday friends and there’s been a common theme coming up in my client calls lately and I usually take that as a sign that there are more people out there struggling in a similar area.
But before we get into today’s episode, make sure you’re signed up for my next free Masterclass:
Four Higher Level Needs Every Conscious Couple Craves to Feel Seen, Heard, Supported, and Loved
So… onto today’s episode!
The topic of today is finding our passion, our purpose, and knowing why we’re here.
I want to first start with a little bit of psychological background here because it’s important. When we arrive to this point of our lives where we’re questioning what our purpose is, we’ve arrived to an existential question.
Those who are existentially awake are usually deeply oriented to understanding the meaning of their life, cultivating authenticity and full expression of who they are, living intentionally (or making the most of their time here), and living a purpose driven life.
Our life purpose isn’t always a super easy thing to awaken to, especially when we feel as though we’re good at lots of things or in some cases “not good at anything”. This becomes increasingly frustrating when we’re told that to find our life purpose, simply follow our passions or talents and these aren’t always abundantly clear. Elizabeth Gilbert has an amazing TED talk on this. Watch it here.
I’ve had conversation with several clients over the past few weeks as they’ve been struggling with this existential issue – what is my life path? What am I here to do?
These are the kinds of questions that can paralyze us. The not knowing can feel like such a vast gap in our lives and it seems the more we try and think it through, the more frustrated we become. There’s a reason for that.
When it comes to identifying your passions, or even interests, we can’t think about these things and determine if they’re “our thing”. We must do them, we must experience them. This is the only way.
Why? Because alignment is something that is felt. Not something that is cognitively constructed. It isn’t something that you can think through. It’s something you feel. And the only way we can know how something truly feels is to do it!
Think of it this way, someone can tell you all day and all night what it’s going to feel like to give birth, but you won’t know exactly what it feels like until you actually do it! Same philosophy!
As I look back on my life and understanding my life purpose, I’ve become clearer and clearer by trying lots of things. There’s just as much value as knowing something “is not it” as there is in knowing something “is”. Both provide clarity, clarity in which we can only get by actually trying something on, following a path a little ways, dipping our toe in the water of something to see how it makes us feel.
Are we more intrigued or interested in this thing? Does it rub us the wrong way? Does it create an immediate “no” for us? How will we know if we don’t try?
The thing that keeps most of us from trying are two fears:
1. What if it isn’t it?
2. What if I’m not good at it?
In the first scenario, we often fear that exploring this path only to find out it isn’t the right one will be a waste of time and a waste of money, but learning more about what you like and don’t like is never a waste of time or money. In fact, that’s some of the most valuable self-exploration you can ever do.
It’s a big world out there, guys! Trying to narrow down your “thing” when there are a million things can feel completely overwhelming! Having an experience in one area and knowing it isn’t your thing at least marks something off the list and gives you more information for what you’re looking for instead.
We have to be comfortable with something being the wrong fit in order to find the right one. Take a class to learn more about something. Fail at something. Totally hate something. Spend half a year exploring something only to find it isn’t your thing. I can guarantee you you’ll still walk away from that experience with wisdom you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Now, the second scenario, the fear we aren’t good at it. All of us have innate talents and gifts. Some of us are much more aware of these gifts than others, yet a talent or gift is absolutely worthless if you never spend the time developing it.
I know very few people who are naturally gifted at something to the point where it requires no “honing”. Each and every person starts at the same place – the beginning – the awareness that they have a knack for something and then invest the time, energy, money, and self-belief into further improving that knack.
Being good at something comes with practice, experience, and further education: all things that in our control to do, if we can simply get over the fear that maybe we won’t be the best at something right away. No one is the best at something right away. No one.
I was sitting in church yesterday and the reverend shared this scripture with us that made me immediately think of life purpose. It goes: “A sower went out to sow his seed, and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered from lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.”
Now, trust me when I say that including a Bible verse today is a big deal for me spiritually because it’s been something I’ve been turned off to for a long time. Any time one thing is used as the absolute truth and closes off all the other avenues to truth, there’s a red flag that goes off in my brain. That’s like saying there’s only one path to God when God is infinite in his/her ability to find his/her way into our lives.
But, I’ve been reading “What is the Bible?” by Rob Bell and learning that the Bible is a book that was written by humans on how to be human – the struggles we all face in believing in God and trying to be a good person so I’m starting to open up to it a bit more and be intrigued for the spiritual wisdom it contains.
This verse reminds me of the metaphor of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. Now, I know there are lots of ways you can interpret scripture, but as I was sitting there yesterday, I was reflecting back to the conversations with clients and looking at each of their life situations – both desperately wanting to know why they’re here and what they’re purpose is and being too afraid to simply try something because what if it isn’t it and what if they aren’t good at it.
This verse about sowing seeds on a path and them being trampled on or eaten by birds – yes, you may try something only to feel as though this thing was literally stamped out, the door was shut in your face, nothing ever came of those seeds. I’ve definitely been there. Or you may sow seeds on some rock where there is literally nothing within you or outside of you to provide any nutrition or moisture. I’ve been there too, thinking it’s my thing, but it never grew no matter how much I wanted it to. It simply wasn’t my thing. So you keep going. You may sow some seeds among thorns, which means to me, you sow seeds without the right support. You’ll learn how to surround yourself with the right people as you pursue your purpose. Having encouragement and inspiration guarantees that your dreams won’t be choked right out of you. But then, you may sow your seeds on good soil and it will produce a hundredfold. A hundredfold, you guys!
This verse says to me if you keep sowing seeds, keep throwing them out there, keep being persistent, you’ll eventually hit good soil. Notice that the verse doesn’t hit good soil right away. It has to be trampled on a path, eaten by birds, thrown among the rocks and starve, and among the thorns to be choked. But if still you rise to keep sowing seeds, when you hit the good soil – your purpose expands, the path expands a hundredfold.
Now I ask you, was it a waste of time to sow seeds on a path that was trampled upon and eaten by birds? No. You learned not to sow your seeds there or in that way. And what about the rocks? Was that a waste of time? No. You learned your purpose needs certain nutrition to survive. And what about the thorns? Was that a waste? Of course not. You learned a very important lesson- that your dreams need the right support.
And with all this wisdom, you finally learned to recognize what good soil looks like and you planted there. And it expanded a hundredfold.
As I look at my life journey to understanding my purpose, it’s felt a lot like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. It’s been a lot like sowing a lot of seeds until I’ve found good soil. I’ve gotten really comfortable with simply exploring and learning and gaining wisdom along the way. Each experience, each path I’ve explored has given me more and more clarity around who I am, what I’m good at, and why I’m here. And I know it will do the same for you.
As I was laying in bed last night scrolling through Facebook, I came across a commencement speech by Will Ferrell. He was talking about graduating college and immediately moving back home with his parents. He had an interest in comedy and probably some innate talent, but again, if he never explored this interest and never developed this talent – it would have been a complete waste. We wouldn’t have Old School. Or Elf. Or any other amazing film or skit he’s ever created.
But this wasn’t the best part. He said when he first started doing comedy, he kept throwing darts at a dartboard. Even when he was hired onto Saturday Night Live, he kept throwing darts at a dartboard. He kept honing and honing and honing his craft, but he was willing to try and fail and try and fail. He threw a lot of spaghetti at the wall, guys.
And the result? If you throw enough darts at a dartboard, you’ll eventually hit the bullseye.
Purpose is only one piece to the puzzle. Talent is only one piece to the puzzle. Passion, interests – only one piece of the puzzle.
You have to be willing to sow a lot of seeds and yield nothing. You have to be willing to throw a lot of darts at a dartboard and miss all together. You have to be willing to throw a lot of spaghetti at a wall and not be attached to it all sticking.
For a lot of my life, it’s felt like I’m just shooting in the dark – trying one thing and seeing how it feels.
But, I went to a business conference a few weeks ago in Austin and the woman presenting said something that completely shifted my view point on this. She said you have to be testing things all the time. You have to be throwing things out there, gathering data, and going back to the drawing board. This is what makes the best entrepreneurs.
And that’s what I’ve been doing this whole time – testing, testing, and testing some more. Hoping I don’t fail, but knowing if I do, failure is only information to move forward with more clarity and no failure is ever a waste of time or a waste of money.
And in that way, “failure” isn’t really real. It’s only data.
Be willing to be curious. Be willing to test. Be willing to explore a path of a small interest and see what else expands for you there. Be willing to learn. Take a class. Try something new. Sow some seeds. This is how we find our good soil and where our purpose will expand a hundredfold. And it all starts with being willing to sow some seeds. Maybe lots of them, but man, I bet that’ll be a beautiful life!
So, I want to hear from you! Do you feel like you’re throwing a lot of darts? Sowing a lot of seeds? I know how frustrating it can feel when you’re testing, testing, testing to no avail. But every step matters. Every life experience matters. Every piece of the puzzle gives you more information to who you are, what you’re good at, and why you’re here!
I’ll see you in a few days for another Transformational Thursday and for my next Masterclass on Wednesday at 1pm CST.