There’s so much talk these days about finding your purpose. It seems like I can’t go five minutes on Facebook or Instagram without some post or video asking me what my purpose is and, if I don’t have an answer, offering me a process that will supposedly help me find it. Like my purpose is a lost dog, out there frantically searching and breathlessly waiting to be reunited with me.
Is it my purpose to raise considerate, compassionate children?
Is it my purpose to lead a major corporation?
Is it my purpose to save the environment from polluters?
Maybe you can relate to this constant search for your purpose. Well, if so, I’m about to take a huge weight off your shoulders. Ready?
Your purpose is joy.
Pure and simple.
Let me say that again - your purpose is joy.
“Now Emily,” you might say, “that sounds pretty airy fairy to me. I mean, we all can’t spend our lives sipping mai tai’s on the beach. Someone has to get the work done around here.”
I totally agree with you. So let’s back up and dive a bit deeper into this.
I believe we as humans come to this planet with very general intentions. We don’t have pre-paved fates or destinies. We come to sift and sort through all the stuff here on Planet Earth (Abraham-Hicks calls it “contrast”) and decide what we personally prefer. It’s like one big buffet table and we’re in charge of what we select and participate in.
Want to live in a big city? Go for it.
Don’t want kids this time around? Cool, don’t have them.
Prefer a Prius over a Lexus? Good for you, you get to choose.
So your life causes you to try things out and decide for yourself what you like and don’t like. In that process, you find what brings you joy and if you’re smart enough to follow that, your purpose will be revealed. Little by little, year after year. It’s not something that was preordained, it’s something you get to discover for yourself as your life unfolds. How fun does that sound?
I used to think I was destined to make a huge impact on the world somehow, but I tortured myself trying to figure out how I was going to do it. First, I thought it would be by being a great civil rights lawyer, then later as a hugely successful actor. I would save the world if it was the last thing I did. Turns out, that’s a guaranteed way of causing massive stress and anxiety. Because not only did I have to do something I wasn’t necessarily passionate about, I had to be the best at it to truly make an impact.
Once I let that expectation and pressure go, and instead simply followed what I was passionate about, I was relaxed enough that the idea for Shift Bars came to me effortlessly. I wasn’t stressing over what purpose, I was living my life and was inspired to something I knew would bring me joy and help others. And when I looked back on all my previous jobs and career choices, they suddenly all made sense. I could clearly see how each and every one of them prepared me to start this company.
Turns out, I very well make a huge impact on the world. But if I had kept my focus there, I would’ve been too tense to ever allow in the million dollar idea.
And please don’t think I’m equating what you do in the world with your purpose. Your purpose is joy. So if you’re washing the dishes and you do it with joy in your heart, you’re fulfilling your purpose. Add up enough of those joyful moments and you create a joyful life.
Are you starting to see how the relaxed path of joy is actually more productive than the straining to find your purpose?
When you’re seeking joy, you follow your gut, you’re out of your head, and you’re present in more moments. On the flip side, when you’re trying to determine your purpose, you’re constantly thinking and usually not taking much action. How could you? You don’t know your purpose yet. That’s a prescription for inertia and depression if I ever heard one.
And one more tip - the world doesn’t need saving. It was created with contrast for a reason. If there weren’t things that we didn’t like, how would we ever know what we do like? If everything was perfect already, what would we do all day? It might be nice for a week or two, but eventually we’d get really bored. Contrast inspires new ideas and bringing those ideas to fruition is our purpose. Turning thoughts to things - sounds like a pretty badass purpose to me!
So instead of focusing on the problems of the world to see what you “should” be doing with your life, look to what lights you up inside. That passion is God’s clue as to what your purpose is. We don’t come to Earth with instructional manuals but our interests are our preinstalled clues as to what path will bring us the most joy. And more joy is what this planet needs more than anything else.
And don’t worry that we’ll pick the same thing. That’s the beauty of variety - we all come with different interests and desires. So there will always be people who are drawn to the jobs and careers that make you bored out of your mind. And not everyone will try to do what you want to do, because how could they? You’re a unique, one-of-a-kind individual with their own dreams and passions, no one could be you if they tried. You’re an original, baby, so own it and go express it as only you can.
So get out there and focus on your joy, even if it’s just for five minutes each day. That shift will move you towards so many magical things, you’ll amaze yourself. Just like you always intended to.