Welcome to episode 2 of the Do What You Love Podcast, this is part of a special 3-part series to help you discover your life purpose so you can have more fulfilment and joy in your life and career.
I’m your host Amanda Heal.
In the last episode, I spoke about the problems that many of us face feeling like we work just to pay the bills, our lives are lacking meaning or significance, our jobs no longer bringing us the same joy and excitement that the used to, and being fed up with the stress, long work hours and poor work-life balance.
I spoke of how I had found the solution to these problems, which was discovering and living out my life purpose, and how I am happier now than I have ever been.
If you’ve stumbled across this podcast and haven’t done my quiz to discover whether you’re living out your life purpose, you might like to pause this podcast and go to my website at https://purposevisionfuture.com, fill in the form and do the quiz. This episode, and the next – episode 3, will then make a lot more sense.
In this episode, I’m going to be talking about what life purpose is, what it looks like to live outside your life purpose, and the problems this can cause longterm.
What is Purpose?
The Macquarie Dictionary defines purpose as: “the object for which anything exists or is done, made, used, etc.”
If you use an object for its intended purpose, the object usually works well. But, if you try to use the object for a purpose for which it is not designed, it will either not work at all, or will not work very well.
A toaster is specifically designed to toast bread, and other similar products. But, if you tried to make a cup of coffee using the toaster, it would not work at all. An extreme example, I know, but it makes the point.
And here’s another less extreme example. If you used a butter knife to spread suitably softened butter onto bread, it would work very well. But if you tried to use the butter knife to cut steak, it may go some way towards cutting the meat, but it wouldn’t work particularly well.
I believe the same applies to us as human beings. If we discover our life purpose, we discover the thing we are made to do.
Pastor, author and filmmaker, TD Jakes, describes this purpose as being much like an instinct. It comes naturally to us — something we are wired to do.
I passionately believe that we are each created for a specific purpose. If we can discover and live out our purpose, we will live almost by instinct, and will enjoy the life we were created to live, obtaining maximum happiness and fulfilment.
What does it look like to live outside your life purpose?
As most of us spend more time working than doing anything else, I’ll use work as the basis for talking about what living outside your life purpose looks like. However, what I will be saying can just as easily apply to any area of life.
In the quiz, I’ve covered a number of areas of work life – values, environment, gifts and talents, and mindset. Let’s take each one of these in turn.
Firstly, let’s look at values. We all have personal values. The most commonly thought of values are things like honesty, integrity, family and hard work, but if you look online you can find list as long as 400 possible personal values.
Most workplaces have values too. These are often outlined in vision and mission statements, but many exist as unspoken expectations. I remember being told during my first week at work as a lawyer that if I left work at 5pm, my contract wouldn’t be renewed.
If your work causes you to live outside your life purpose, it’s possible that the values of your workplace won’t align well with your personal values, and you may even feel forced to exchange your personal values for your work ones to fit in at work.
Next, let’s look at environment. Wen I talk about environment, I’m not talking about the weather. I’m talking about the physical environment that you work in – your office or cubicle, and also the less obvious things that affect this environment such as noise, stress, pressure, etc.
Some people thrive in open plan office environments with lots of interaction between colleagues, and some of us don’t. As I get older, I’m finding that I require a very quiet environment for concentration and creativity. There were times during my work life when I had to work in an open plan office, which I found extremely stressful.
If your work causes you to live outside your purpose, your work environment may not suit you well.
Now turning to gifts and talents. You may not think of yourself as gifted or talented, but we all have things that are naturally good at, and that’s what I’m talking about here. We often do these things almost instinctively without even thinking about it.
I’m naturally a problem solver. I didn’t realise this until my mother was telling me what a bad day she’d had at work, and I launched into sentences starting with “why didn’t you …” or “you should have …”. Finally she stopped me and said “I don’t want you to solve my problems, I just want you to listen to me so I can get them off my chest”. I’m also an encourager, and will find myself speaking words of encouragement to someone without a seconds thought.
If your work is causing you to live outside of your purpose, there’s a very good chance that you aren’t regularly using your natural gifts and talents.
Finally, onto mindset. If you’re living outside your purpose in your work, chances are your mindset isn’t going to be very good. You probably don’t like your job, and think negatively about it often. You might lack confidence in your work, and you might feel a distinct lack of fulfilment or excitement in your work. You may even feel like you don’t fit in well at work.
I remember when I first started working as a lawyer, I found my work to be exciting and interesting, and it remained that way throughout most of my career. But then, as I got older, I realised that my ideas of what was important to me were also changing. i began to feel like what I was doing was not making a real difference, and rapidly lost all feelings of fulfilment that my work had once given me. I also started to feel undervalued and unappreciated at work.
So what are the longterm effects of living outside of our life purpose?
Remember how I said earlier that our life purpose is almost like an instinct? TD Jakes suggests that if we can combine our instinct with our intellect, we will obtain happiness and fulfilment. However, as we are taught to rely on our knowledge rather than our instinct, it is possible for us to live out our lives relying almost entirely on knowledge, rather than instinct or purpose. This can lead to discouragement, disillusionment, and depression.
I can say from my personal experience of this that this is true. While I didn’t know what my life purpose was until well after I left the law, all I knew was that as my legal career was drawing closer to its end, I was becoming more and more restless and unhappy. My stress levels were increasing, my self-esteem was getting lower by the day, and I was beginning to hate my job. Looking back now, I see this was because my work as a lawyer was taking me further and further away from my life purpose, which is to inspire and encourage others.
Do you know what your life purpose is? If so, is your work drawing you away from your life purpose?
In the next episode of this podcast, I will talk about what it looks like to truly live out your life purpose, and how you can discover your life purpose, if you don’t already know what it is.
Until next time, have a great day and do what you love!