Live your lifes purpose. Our entire culture and society encourages us to become educated, then get a job to earn a pay cheque so we can buy things, then buy more things, then buy more and better things and then buy even more and even better things. We get swept up in this way of living and forget to live deliberately. All of this while we are told to life our lives purpose and yet we know all of that ultimately gets left behind for most of us.
It is a relentless and never-ending cycle of accumulation, whether that be the accumulation of prestige, things, or wealth.
Keeping up with the Joneses and being successful distracts most of us from working with lifes purpose purpose. It had certainly distracted me from mine. At the same time I realize that the pressure to live my life as a Jones resulting in being sleep at the wheel is immense.
We are driven to distraction by our ideas of success and all it entails.
For me, keeping up with the Joneses was not about the house with the triple car garage or a sleek car, but it was about me being “successful,” really successful. My ideas of success included running and owning a business, owning real estate, and wanting to own a ski chalet. Although I had a business I got wrapped up in running the business and forgetting all about the real purpose of business and that was to make a profit and not simply just make busy work for myself.
All of this accumulation and all the while I felt I was not living my lifes purpose.
It appears that this whole lifes purpose focus may be bunk.
We have heard it time and again. Find out what inspires us and make that our lifes purpose and work. We are to follow our lifes purpose or true passion.
For many this results in numerous starting and stopping of projects and areas of “life’s purpose” without an ability to do anything particularly well. Some end up at continuous cross-roads after numerous abandoned projects, business ventures, and educational pursuits. Choosing a life of living deliberately is an attempt to live life on purpose and be on purpose.
I have spent 17+ years in a profession growing my skills and reputation. At the very same time I have become totally passionate about my work as a family law lawyer. At the very same time I have spent a significant time worrying about and knowing that my chosen profession is not my “life’s true purpose”.
Despite me getting really good at my work (if I don’t say so myself), I have kept worrying and wondering that I was focusing on the wrong thing. I have been worried that my work as a lawyer is not my “true calling” and is a true distraction from what I really should be doing.
I have been worrying about this even though my work has become more and more interesting and my contributions to my community have been continually growing. My lifes purpose has way more to do with giving back than it does about my career.
Here it is: get really good and what you do and the passion will follow. Don't worry so much about your lives purpose, but worry more about getting good at being good at what you do.
If we were to listen to Cal Newport, he would say that this whole belief about finding your life’s true passion and then living it is bogus. In his book Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You he provides the compelling and convincing argument that this whole “passion” movement is dangerous and often causes people unnecessary misery. He says people don’t really get passionate about their work until they become really really good at it.
If you focus only on what your work offers you it makes you hyper-aware of what you don’t like about it. This leads to chronic unhappiness that is particularly true among entry-level positions.
Instead focus on your profession as a craftsperson would approach their craft. Leave behind self-centred concerns about whether or not your job is just right and instead put your head down and get to work. Get really darn good at doing your craft.
Adopt the craftsperson mindset first and then the passion will follow.
Instead of thinking about what the world can offer you, think about and get good at what you can offer the world.
So, as a non conforming professional, the plan is to practice everything you do with excellence. Treat everything you do in your work as a true learning experience. Accept that it takes time to develop your craft well. It takes time and discipline to truly stand out in your profession and make the contributions you will ultimately want to make.
In the meantime, take care of you, take care of your stress, and take care of your financial pictures so that what you can focus on is the beauty of your craft.
I finally fully respect that in my work as a lawyer, my soul comes alive, when I am able to sit in front of my client with an open heart listening to them and truly being present to what they need. My soul not only sings and lights on fire when I am able to connect with that person’s strengths, interests or talents and am able to encourage them in some meaningful and concrete way.
Written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional