Some event in your life has forced you to take stock of yours. Now you are in a desert with no compass and wondering, “Which way do I go?” Finding purpose is how you add meaning to your life. And it can be a business venture, passion project, or social justice pursuit. These are the steps I took to find my purpose and I hope it helps you find yours.
1. Have faith you will find it.
You want it. It will present itself to you and then you can shape it like cookie dough.
2. Identify your passion.
What gets you going? What touches your heart? Is someone doing something similar so you can watch and figure out where you might fill in a gap? As you move along in your daily living, certain articles, posts, books, movies, or news stories will give you ideas. Write those down. Your brain will work on those pieces and create a whole picture over time.
3. Don’t make it about money.
Nothing kills a passion project faster than a laser focus on money. That’s not to say you can’t make money on it. But that shouldn’t be all it’s about. You’ll burn out and be miserable if your heart is not in it.
4. Take inventory of your skills.
What are you good at? I despise lots of numbers and accounting and profit and loss statements. So it’s unlikely I’d start a nonprofit although I may one day start a donor-directed fund. (I’m letting that one marinate.) You should pursue something that is within your skillset.
So one of the things I do is use search engine optimization to rank on google so those struggling will find this site which has hope and resources instead of step by step instructions on how to kill oneself. That knowledge came from my marketing background. So I took something I already knew how to do for knee surgeons and air conditioner repair businesses and I applied it to preventing suicide.
5. Try on things.
When you see or hear about things, see if you can partner with someone to try it out on a limited basis to see if it’s worth scaling up. You don’t go to a store to buy a suit or a wedding dress without trying it on, right? This is a big deal so take some stuff into your fitting room, try it on to see if you like it.
6. Does it suit your personality or the personality of a loved one?
Some of you might be pursuing a cause in memory of a loved one. And even if you are not, it needs to suit who you are and where you want to go. If it is a loved one, what were they like?
I ended up on stage because my son loved to be there and when I’m up there I feel him with me. He was emotionally naked with his music lyrics which revealed his deepest feelings. That factored into why this blog is called what it is. So it suits my personality and his memory. If you are more introverted, you might not want to be so public and a cause about meeting moms or dads in jail who have substance use disorder might be more in your lane.
7. Allow it to marinate.
You have ideas and you want to jump right in. If you get impatient and dive in head first you could end up wasting time and money. Sometimes wrong turns help you find your purpose. But so does letting it marinate long enough to start to come to life. To that end, it helps if you work towards it daily so you get a feel for your focus.
8. Does it fill a need?
What will your business, nonprofit, passion project do that something else doesn’t? You have to differentiate yourself. And for it to have meaning to you, it needs to fill a gap or need that is not being met.
9. Give it room to grow, shift and adapt.
It has to be fluid because you change over time. When I first started this blog, it was all about my grief. You’ll notice I didn’t call it, “Anne Moss’s Grief Journey.” That would be too narrow and over time, I would have abandoned it. That can be OK. But I wanted something that would symbolize a new step forward and define a change in how I was going forward in life.
I wanted taboo subjects our family had struggled with to be out in the open. I didn’t want to suffer in silence anymore, stigmatize mental health anymore, so I put my soul out in the open. Emotionally Naked defined my vulnerability and gave me room to grow with my core subjects of mental health (including addiction), grief, suicide prevention.
You have it in you. I hope those steps over time, help you and your purpose meet soon.