A Very Complicated Guide to Finding Your Purpose
What should I do with my life?
Do you ever ask yourself that?
I do. All the time. I never find a good answer.
I wish someone would just tell me already.
I wish God or whoever is listening up there would send me a sign, preferably one that I can’t mis-interperet because I’m not picking up on the meaning behind blue butterflies and oddly shaped coins. I’m thinking more along the lines of an alien showing up (I can take it, I promise) for a little chat.
I bring this up because after 25 days of organizing my life top to bottom, it dawned on me that I should probably invest the same, if not more, effort into planning for the good stuff as I did for preparing for “disaster and demise“.
I think we owe it to ourselves to design a future that’s worth getting excited about. Then we’d know what to work towards.
But like I said, I don’t know what that future is supposed to look like.
The funny thing is, I’m good at setting goals. If I’ve learned anything from Hackerella, it’s how to successfully get from point A to Point B within a specified time frame.
It’s taught me to set goals that are specific, challenging, realistic, and that have clear “how to’s” and next steps. For example:
Write a 50,000 word novel–> write 1700 words every day
Hold a 15 minute plank–> do whatever the daily training program calls for
In other words, with the right goal, I just have to show up to do the work every day and I’m all but guaranteed success.
The big goals, on the other hand, befuddle me.
I can’t Hackerella a 37 point checklist for turning this blog into a guaranteed six figure business in 18 months. I don’t even know if I want that. Same goes for writing a New York Times bestseller, starting a clothing line, launching an app, raising kids, managing stress or finding lasting love.
There’s no “how to” for this stuff.
My week figuring out what I should do with my life
I spent the week, as you might expect, doing way too many life planning goal setting exercises.
I wrote out long term goals, short term goals, 101 things to do before I die, desired feelings, and detailed descriptions of what I want for my family, health, money, and relationships. I listed out people I admire, activities I enjoyed as a kid, things I’m good at, things people think I’m good at. I thought about places I want to go and things I want to buy, people I want to meet and the legacy I want to leave.
Heck, I wrote my eulogy and a front page interview with my future self so that I could define the kind of person I want to become.
I struggled with these exercises because they required me to dissect every aspect of my life and think not just about the things I wanted to do or buy or see, but who I wanted to be. I had to dig into the motivation and values behind it all and it was an eye opening, but tedious process.
Look for the patterns
In the end, I found myself with lots of lists and obvious musts (family, health, relationships, independence, adventure and some pampering), but no clear life purpose. It was only when I started to give my notes a second look that I noticed the pattern, and there it was, clear as day.
I’m an artist.
I am a what?!??
Yup. An artist. There’s no arguing with the data. I am creative, through and through:
- As a kid I wrote poems and stories.
- In middle school I made elaborate videos and treasure hunts.
- In high school I recorded radio shows that had original songs and impressions.
In college, I partied.
- I read a lot (last I checked I had 18 books checked out at the library)
- I write every day
- I tinker on the piano, guitar and garage band on my computer
- My daughter and I film baking shows. She’s the host, and I edit them.
- I build websites for fun.
I like making things. And words are my medium.
Even with a shrunken circle, I was still left with more options than any normal person would know what to do with. Fiction? Videos? Podcasts? Blogging? Poetry? Songs?
What was I supposed to give my attention to? I want something to focus on so that I can be great at it. Exceptional even.
The only reasonable thing left to do having exhausted logic, reason and data points in my notebook, was to close my eyes, go to a peaceful place and ask for a sign. Again. But this time, not from God or an alien, but from myself.
And sure enough, a little voice inside of me had something to say.
Write the book.
Write the book.
Write the book.
Of course. Of course my gut is telling me to do the hardest, least realistic and most soul crushing thing of all.
Sometimes I think I’m too self aware for my own good.
I guess I’ll go figure out how to write this book. I do have an idea. A great one actually.
In the mean time, keep an eye out for a little more color and creativity here on this blog. I think it’s high time I start experimenting with my inner artist.