When I was 14 years old, I discovered my true self. I was looking in a dusty bookshelf at my grandmothers house, when I found a cassette tape program called ‘Lead The Field’ by Earl Nightingale. For some reason, I was drawn to it.
I popped one of the well-worn tapes into my Sony Walkman. The tape hissed and my ears were filled with the sonorous voice of a man who sounded ancient to me.
He spoke about topics that I’d never heard of before: having a good attitude, writing down goals, giving more in service than you expect in rewards.
To a 14 year old boy, these ideas were earth-shattering. I didn’t realize it, but at age 14 was when I discovered my life purpose, and my true self. I wanted to be like Earl Nightingale and share ideas that could help others to live a better life.
My purpose is to share empowering ideas with people. First I discover them, then I share them.
Today, almost 25 years later, I am a speaker and a writer. It is the thing I would do whether anybody paid me or not. If people ask me to speak to a group about ways to improve their lives, I simply cannot wait to get in front of them. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 people, 30 or 3000; I feel like I am completely in tune with my true self when I do it.
I share this with you because I want to reassure you that you too have a purpose. You have something that started small inside you; a passion or an interest that resonated with you. For a while you probably obsessed about it, dreamed about doing something with it, made plans to pursue it.
But then maybe ‘real life’ got in the way. You started to smother your passion with a layer of practicality. Fear and laziness kicked in, and you became ‘realistic’.
I’m here to tell you something important. No matter what age you are, if you want to, you can develop this passion into a way to help the world.
But here’s the catch: you have to value it, and you have to take it seriously.
If you don’t listen to your internal desires, they will never be heard. Nobody is going to walk up to you and tell you what your purpose should be. It is entirely on your shoulders to listen, to nourish and to have the courage to grow into the person you truly want to be.
Here are five ways that I have learned to uncover my own purpose, and have also helped other people I’ve shared them with:
1) Take away time and money
The first two constraints are usually time and money. If neither of these mattered (as they don’t when we are young children) what is the thing you most want to do with your time? Suspend your reality for a moment and let your true passion rise to the surface. What is it that you would do if money and time were abundant?
2) Take away relaxing
Very often when I ask this question, people tell me they want to ‘relax’ or go on vacation. I believe that this is a temporary answer, because they need an escape from their current reality. Think deeper than this. After you had relaxed, or gone on vacation, eventually you would crave something else. What would that be?
3) Look at your natural talent
Next, think about what it is you do naturally. What is something you seem to find easy, or just flows for you? What is an ability that people compliment you on?
If you think about it, there will be one specific thing for you that stands out. I believe you know what it is, but you likely don’t value it because it comes easily to you. If it’s a talent that you have ignored, then the first step is to begin to devote time to it again. If you can’t do it during normal workday hours, use your evenings to pursue it.
The simple act of doing something you are naturally talented at will create joy like you haven’t felt for years. It will make you feel like a child again. Give yourself permission to develop your talent, and then spend your life doing it.
4) Be guided by your fear
Something amazing I find about finding your purpose is that very often the thing you want to do the most is also the thing you fear the most. The true calling in your life is on the other side of your fear. I think this is deliberate. I believe we are designed this way.
If it was easy to live your passion, everybody would be doing it. But it’s not easy. It’s terrifying. That is exactly why you need to do it. On the other side of your fear is where you will feel truly alive.
5) Look for one person in need
Think of one person, just one, who could be helped by using your unique talent. Don’t let the fear of how or when get in the way, just focus on who could be helped.
Once you think of this person, reach out to them and ask them if you can help them. Explain that you’ve always wanted to try to use your talent, and you’d like a chance to see if it helps.
At the intersection of your talents and an individual human need you will find your purpose. When you use your talents to create a change for other people, you will deep joy.
All you need to do is listen to your true calling, understand how truly valuable it can be, and give yourself permission to pursue it.
When you live your life in pursuit of your purpose, both you, and the world be better for it.