To be honest, I don’t remember his name, just the red Schwinn bike he’d ride in on, ditching it on the lawn, his eyes gleaming as he excitedly gushed about how much he Loved washing windows—with a capital L. My husband and I had just moved into our very first house, and my 26 year-old brain at the time couldn’t comprehend how anyone could possibly be that passionate and proud to be washing windows. (Looking back, I may have been holding my head a little too high for my own good.) But then I heard these three words:
FIND YOUR PURPOSE.
For decades, that tiny little sentiment has followed me around and whispered stressful little reminders in my ear. How would I ever find my one true purpose? The daunting and weighty gravity of the undertaking was so overwhelming that I spent what seemed like a generation (it kinda was), researching and planning. After all, what if I didn’t choose my purpose? What if I wasted my time working on your purpose because I thought it was my purpose? And what if I was the only person on the whole damn planet who didn’t even have a purpose? I was nearly positive I wouldn’t get it right.
The thing about finding our purposes is that it’s become a worldwide pastime, sucking out our creativity, hope, and part of our souls in the process. Ultimately, we make too flippin’ big of a deal about it. (Yeah, I said it.)
OUR SENSE OF SELF AND CONFIDENCE METERS WAIVER AS SOON WE MUTTER THINGS TO OURSELVES THAT SOUND ANYTHING LIKE:
Okay, so maybe you haven’t exactly reached the same endpoint, but the lesson remains the same. When we focus so much on the perfect opportunity at the perfect time, we’re forcing ourselves to live lives that are less than. Less than we want. Less than we deserve. And less than we can achieve.
The good news? Your purpose doesn’t have to involve curing cancer, educating children in Africa, or ending world hunger with one grand flick of your wrist. The (dirty) truth is that most of us will not be Mother Theresa, Ghandi, or Oprah. (Though Oprah did do the heavy lifting when I had to teach my kids about sex, but that’s another story for another day.)
AND THAT’S OKAY.
Honestly, most people don’t get struck by a lightning bolt of pure, certain purpose or magically stumble upon a huge flashing sign that blinks FOLLOW ME! FOLLOW ME! towards a goal that’ll end up scrawled in a record book. But when we take the pressure off ourselves, we can recognize the smaller purposes swirling around us all the time. They’re ripe for the picking, and they matter. (Also, contrary to popular belief, most people don’t know what their purpose is when they blow out the candles on their 13th birthday, so don’t plan on getting it right the first time.)
But there’ll be clues when you’re getting close to your purpose, big or small. A whimsical little flutter in your stomach. A rush of emotions that head straight down to the tips of your toes. A surge of energy, and inspiration, and happiness. How to get there? Trust yourself and follow your instincts. It’s no big mystery that life is short, and pretty soon you’ll have a really legitimate reason for not going after what you want—you’ll be buried six feet under with worms wiggling their way into the hollow where your dreams used to live.
Purpose is all about using your own unique superpower to make one little itty bitty corner of the world a better, brighter, and more meaningful place. As a bonus, using said superpower will also make you feel good about yourself, catalyzing an avalanche of confidence that’ll help you do more.
But the trick is that you have to DO. The doing is what makes all the difference, from creating a weekend side hustle to simply turning off the TV and getting off your arse, to going back to school, or picking up a book and signing up for a seminar. (Important note: complaining loudly to your best friend sitting next to you on a bar stool does not count as doing.)
The momentum that comes from taking the first actionable step? It builds, helping you do a little bit more, and then even more, which leads to doing a lot more. Every single step forward, sideways, and even backwards, (because spoiler alert: it won’t be a linear path), shows you what the heck to do next. Before you know it, all of the little things will add up to create the Big Thing you were pretty sure you could never—and would never—live to see.
LIKE FINISHING COLLEGE.
LIKE BUILDING A 7-FIGURE COMPANY.
AND LIKE BEING THE BEST DANG WINDOW WASHER IN THE TRI-STATE AREA.
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