Firstly, I have to apologise – this isn’t a scientific discovery about how eating chocolate will help you find meaning and purpose in your life. Or is it…?
I’d love to be a polymath like Leonardo Di Vinci or Galileo, swanning around the renaissance era being excellent at art, science and architecture but I’m not – I’m definitely not. Or, I’d be very happy to be someone with expert knowledge, to have a specialist subject like the contestants on Mastermind. But again, I don’t.
I am a “Jack of all trades and master of none”. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know how this often leads to those big scary questions like “what’s my calling?” and “am I doing the right thing?”. This ultimately causes confusion and worry about what direction I should be heading in life. In essence, I am lacking purpose.
In true “Jack of all trades” style I’ve read a few books and have watched various TED talks on purpose over the past few years – it seems to be everywhere at the moment. However, I feel like the questions they pose, intended to help me find purpose, are still too difficult for me as an individual to answer. I love how powerful and important having purpose is for a collection of people, or a business, but how can I, as me, find it?
Last week it was my birthday and I was bought some fancy chocolates. In those chocolates was a little note, much like you would get in a fortune cookie. It said…
“Did you plan much of what’s happening right now?”
This question, I believe, unwittingly holds a great way to put a stick in the sand. Are you in control of your destiny or not? And, whatever the answer is, are you happy with it? And that’s all purpose is really – the steely determination and dogged persistence to not let things get in the way of a goal.
So, if you understand where I’m coming from and struggle with purpose sometimes, here’s a little exercise I did. You’ll need two pieces of paper, and a pen. Hopefully it’ll help you get a handle on things (or at least start to)…
In the middle of one piece of paper, write “Did I plan much of what’s happening right now?”. Draw a circle around it.
On the other piece of paper, list everything that’s important to you right now and for the foreseeable future. Don’t forget to include the ‘negatives’ – your fears are just as helpful, if not more so, than the things you’re looking forward to.
Back to your first piece of paper. Move everything from your list of important things into two columns, either side of the question you wrote down. Put things in your control on the right and things out of your control on the left.
Now number each item in order of importance, 1 being most important.
You now have in front of you the things you find important, in order. They’re either in or out of your control. How do you feel about that?
If you have more on the left – that suggests you are going along with wherever the tide takes you. And that’s fine, if are you happy with it.
If you have more on the right – that suggests you are forging ahead in control. And that’s also fine, if you’re you happy with it.
Is there anything really important to you that you would prefer to swap sides?This isn’t going to be the answer to everything but, if you do get the purpose, wobbles hopefully you’ll find it useful to take stock of where you currently are.
Please share if you give this a whirl as I’m genuinely curious if a) anyone gives it a bash and b) if it was a useful exercise.