You’ve seen those people whose purpose is very clear. They know where they are going and they seem to have everything figured out. While that is inspiring, it leaves a lot of people wondering why they don’t have the same sense of purpose. In fact, I get this question quite often in my coaching. How do I find my purpose?
Purpose is elusive
It is an important question. Is the goal of our lives to find it? What if I can’t find it? This has been a big question for me over the years. The harder I tried to find it, the more elusive it became. I was sure if I looked hard enough I would find it but I’ve learned that’s not how this works. At least, it is not what I’ve experienced. There have been times where I’ve felt an incredibly clear sense of purpose, and others where I have felt like I’ve been drifting. It has been completely absent.
Starting my business is a good example. When I left Intel in 2016, I was committed to starting and growing Oyster. This lasted for about five years until I largely achieved the goals I set for myself. It felt great but it also left a big hole. What’s next and nothing seemed to resonate. On top of that several non-business issues added to my sense of confusion. I was drifting, not sure of where I was going and why.
Finding new purpose
And then out of nowhere, a new sense of purpose has emerged. Sue and I are committed to building our forever home. It feels exactly the right thing to do at our stage in life. Rather than drifting I have a very clear, energizing sense of what is important and where we are going. I didn’t pick this. I didn’t start this project thinking ‘this will be a great new purpose’. It just happened and that’s ok. In fact, once I stopped looking it found me.
Renowned change management expert Bill Bridges alludes to this in his excellent book ‘The Way of Transition‘. He believes we go through a series of transitions over our lives. They start when we lose something thrusting us into a period of uncertainty until our new sense of purpose emerges. This is exactly what I’ve experienced. While I feel a very clear sense of purpose right now, I know it too will fade and I’ll be back in that messy period wondering what’s next. The difference is now I know it is coming and I’ll be ok when it gets here.
Where are you at? Do you have a very clear sense of purpose or are you in the middle of a period of uncertainty? If it is the latter, embrace the journey and your new direction will emerge.
What a lovely synchronicity! I am learning about change management currently and a friend yesterday just mentioned the Bridges model! I am adding his books to my reading list and exploring his information online. I am enjoying my new found sense of purpose in my new role after a several year period of healing from grief and loss and being in that space of uncertainty.
Hi Kate, I am so glad this resonates with you as you lived this journey more than most people, and kudos for how well you navigated it.
Excellent message Andy. As you know, after “retiring” I looked around for something new and with purpose. So, I started volunteering at the University of Washington in the Freedman Lab focused on finding a cure for Polycystic Kidney Disease. What a great purpose! I’ve been applying quantitative skills and maybe more importantly a patient advocate perspective. Being married to someone with this horrible disease and knowing that our son also has it I’m a constant reminder of why the lab exists. What a privilege and honor.
Randy, you are a terrific example of someone whose purpose found them, in big way! It connects strongly to your deeper cares and I bet motivates you every day. I’m sure a lot of people are envious, but if they let it, their purpose will emerge.
Thanks for sharing!