Finding Your Purpose
I chose this picture because I’ve often felt like the child on the path above. At the top of the picture, we can see the bright doorway which represents living our purpose. Walking through maze and getting to that doorway represents finding our purpose.
If you don’t know what you are living for, you’re in for a battle with meaninglessness and boredom.
Or, you may find yourself frantically busy, living the rat race, and striving for the next thing that pops into your mind.
If you’ll take the time to discover and live your life on purpose, you’ll be among the fortunate few.
I believe that Discovering, Planning, Branding Yourself, and Leading by living your purpose is essential to every person’s life.
Earlier this year, Rich Horwath’s publisher sent me a copy of his book, Strategy for You: Building a Bridge to the Life You Want.
Rich Horwath is a business strategist, author and speaker committed to helping people think strategically and grow profitably. As a business strategy consultant, he decided to help readers develop their own personal strategic plans.
I’m sharing his 7 Step Process for Purpose Channeling, with a few tweaks of my own here and there.
In his own words, ‘Purpose Channeling is a process for finding one’s purpose and creating a link between that purpose and one’s work. [Purpose Channeling is] designed to discover the themes present when you’ve merged passion and talent, and then to develop productive channels for those themes.’
Here are 7 steps to finding your purpose.
Step 1: Ask Yourself, “What Do I Want?”
In my article about developing your goals, I listed six bucket our lives:
- God and spirituality
- Family and friends
- Work and career
- Community and Service
- Personal growth and development (you can include mind and body in this category)
Last week’s article covered three questions you can ask to uncover your deeper desires for each group. Or another way to figure out what you want in each area is to give each group a rating from 1-10, with 1 being least satisfied and 10 being most satisfied. You may find that one group is going just fine. But you may also find that a couple of areas are lower than you’d like. Even if you give one of the categories a 10, I’m sure you can think of other outcomes in that area that will bring even more satisfaction.
Once you’ve rated each bucket, think about at least three things you can do to bring the number or or two digits higher. For example, if work and career is 5, what are outcomes that would bring the 5 up to a 6 or a 7?
Step 2: Ask Yourself, “How Will I Know When I Get It?”
Different outcomes mean different things to each person. For example, wealth may mean being debt free with three months’ living expenses for some, while for others it could mean a million dollars, 10 million dollars, or even more. You have to know how your outcomes line up with your values and dreams.
Step 3: Describe the Time Frames in Your Life
Use different time periods of your life in 5 or 10 year segments to list activities, hobbies, jobs, educational experiences, and other moments that describe the specific time period.
Here’s an example of the time periods, with some of my own activities, hobbies, jobs, educational experiences:
- Birth to 9 Reading books; playing with Brazilian friends; adopted a couple of puppies; enacted adventure stories I read about
- Age 10 to 19 Boarding school; diligent student; sports; high school president; spent extended trip in the Amazonian jungle with my dad
- Age 20 to 29 liberal arts college; Christianity and theology; counseling and theology; volunteered with youth; helped start a church; met my wife; men’s leadership development groups; leading music; led counseling groups
- Age 30 to 39 had children; learned about the autism spectrum; started private practice counseling; won an institutional customer service award; helped develop statistical support for a counseling program; teaching college classes; created workshops
- Age 40 to 49 real estate investment; internet marketing; infopreneuring; serving at church; trips with kids; dates with my wife, professional mastermind group, Bible study groups
- (I haven’t included further age groups, because I’m 44, but you get the idea 🙂 )
Step 4: Recall Moments When You Were Deeply Excited
Look through the above time periods of your life. Notice moments when you were excited, fulfilled, and totally engaged in your experience? Psychology experts call these moments “flow”, when you’re so engaged and focused that time becomes irrelevant.
As you look through your time frames with flow activities in mind, you may remember other things you didn’t include on the list.
I reviewed the above time frames, and came up with the following ‘moments of excitement,’ which I’ll categorize under the headings of Mind, Body, Relationships, and Finances.
Writing and delivering my 8th grade graduation speech, and other presentations/workshops in different work settings
Acting and singing at the local opera house in Manaus, Brazil with my high school
Working both 1:1 and with groups in psychotherapy to help life change
Blogging with purpose and building long-term passive income
Running my first marathon
Getting in the best shape of my life with P90X
Juicing and making my green smoothies for optimal well-being and nutrition
Practicing yoga and stretching for flexibility and well-being
1:1 time with my son, my daughter, and my wife (both times with each one, or all together as a family)
Different men’s groups I’ve participated in for leadership, personal development, and spiritual growth
Mastermind group relationships with like-minded professionals aspiring toward stretch goals
Reading books and listening to podcasts about personal development, theology, and business
Learning and applying knowledge to build multiple streams of income
Engaging in continuous professional development through formal and informal study and experiences
Step 5: Determine the Themes Running Through Your Moments of Excitement
Mr. Horwath recommends taking your time here. Read through your time frames and your engaged/flow moments, then write words that summarize themes that come to the surface. After your first list of words, take a break, up to a week, then come back to this and reflect some more. Let your subconscious work on your behalf.
As an aside, I’ll mention two great resources you can use to aid you in this step.
First, I ordered the book, Strengths Finder 2.0 earlier this year. When you buy the book, you’ll get a secret code that allows you access to the Strengths site, where you can take your own strengths test to find out your top 5 strengths. My top 5 came out as harmony, connectedness, empathy, input, and learner. I can use this list as a kind of overlay to put over the data I gathered from the first 4 steps.
Second, a while ago I worked through some of the exercises in What Color Is Your Parachute, by Richard Bolles. There are some similar exercises in his book. Specifically, you can find your top skill sets based on jobs you have worked and life experiences you’ve had. For example, I learned that I work well with people primarily, and information secondarily. I work well one on one: 1:1 communicating well in person; advising/coaching/counseling/mentoring, and in groups: communicating effectively by using words expressively in speaking or writing, by making presentations; guiding a group discussion/conveying warmth. And in Information, I work well by Compiling/Researching; Gathering Information by Interviewing or Observing People, Organizing by Systematizing and/or Prioritizing.
You’ll find that all the information blends nicely together when you put these different findings together.
Some of my themes emerging from the timeframes, excited moments, Strengths Finder assessment, and Color Your Parachute exercises have been:
- Presenting and Performing (Including Speaking)
- Leading Group Discussions
- Developing passive income products/strategies
- Researching and Learning
Step 6: Identify Potential Channels
In identifying channels…we are in effect creating a course or way of passage for our inner talents, passions, and dreams to reach the outer world…[so that] we [can] move our lives forward in a significant and compelling manner. ~Richard Howath
Your channels may include roles, responsibilities, jobs, volunteer opportunities, and so on. Brainstorm all the possible channels you can think of. Also, ask others. I remember a couple of people I respect telling me I am a good teacher. I hadn’t thought of that skill set before, and I made a mental note of it.
Depending on what stage of life you’re in, you may already have created channels to express your talents and passions.
Or, you may want to consider creating more channels within your specific roles, responsibilities, ministries that will allow you to express those main themes you’ve identified. (You’ll enjoy Marcus Buckingham’s book, Now Put Your Strengths to Work for six powerful steps to create these channels in your current roles, community, and job/s.)
Here are some channels I’ve identified over the years:
Professor; speaker; internet entrepreneur; podcaster; writer; marketer; sales person; counselor; small group leader; Sunday School teacher. I haven’t done all of these things. But I think you can get the idea of how some of these roles can help me express my talents and passions effectively.
Step 7: Prepare Your Channels
Jesus, in the New Testament, counseled anyone who wanted to follow Him to count the cost first. He used the example of undertaking a building project. You’ve got to study the economy, the location, your own finances, your team. You’ve got to do due diligence to find out the risks, the rewards, and the realities.
In the same way, you’ll want to take the time to check the pros and cons of the different channels you may use.
Make sure that you’ve clarified your values so that you don’t get into a channel that does not line up with your values and life situation. Earlier this year I had a fantastic opportunity to start my own radio program at a local station. Unfortunately, this channel would have taken more time, effort, and money than would have been healthy for me. So I had to choose to say no. That doesn’t mean I can’t ever host my own radio program. But it does mean that, for now, the other channels in my life will do.
Once you’ve decided on your channels (or on sub-channels within your current channels), you can use the GOST framework to develop your goals for each channel.
I hope you’ve found these steps to finding and living your purpose helpful. I know I sure did! And thanks to Rich Horwath for sharing your material with me!photo credit: Photo Guy – Wikipedia User