What’s the point of Purpose?
Purpose. Eek. This can feel like an overwhelming concept that might make you cringe with anxiety, roll your eyes or perhaps inspire you. The Big Why, as in “why am I here?” is a question on everyone’s lips at the moment.
We don’t really learn about it at school, but it becomes a subject that grows in importance each year as we get older. Choices about our studies and career hangover us constantly, with ever-eluding questions like “What are you going to do with your life?” and “What are your goals?” We start feeling the pressure to figure out what we’re meant to be doing, what impact we’re going to make.
Are these questions really linked to our purpose, though? What if the point of purpose is just to be happy, and bring some value to the world in our unique way, no matter how big or small?
Purpose is technically defined as “the reason for which something is done or created.” Purpose is fuel. It’s what makes us get up every day, pushes us to make something out of ourselves, get educated and experience what life has to offer.
There are tons of books, seminars and online courses (trust us, we know!) aimed at teaching people about purpose and how to find theirs like it’s some huge thing we have to strive for. Look, it’s certainly necessary to explore what there is to learn around it, but what if purpose is something really simple, ordinary and natural? Bestselling author of Big Magic (a must read!) and Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert urges people not to strive to try and find purpose, but rather let what you’re naturally inclined towards guide you. What truly, honestly energises you and makes you happy holds clues as to what your purpose is, because ultimately your purpose is to be happy.
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
So perhaps the point of purpose isn’t as mammoth as changing the world or having a fancy career. Purpose is about doing what makes us happy, because when we’re happy, we naturally affect everything around us positively!
The purpose pressure often comes with the idea that your purpose should align with your career, and sure, there is some truth in that.
You might have heard of the ancient Japanese concept of ikigai:
Iki= “to live” + “kai” = “value” or “worth” and sometimes “gai”= reason.
Ikigai means “reason for being.” It’s the value you bring to the world.
The ikigai concept says that your reason for being is at the centre of 4 main overlapping pillars:
What you’re good at
What the world needs
What you can be paid for
What you love.
Living ikigai encourages that your purpose is something you’re paid for- but what’s most important here is the value you’re bringing. Something that’s fuelled by purpose brings good to your own life and those of others.
An example of someone living ikigai is Jay Shetty- an online video creator with over 400 videos amassing 6.5 billion views, and host of top-performing podcast “On Purpose.” Jay is a natural media personality who loves being in the limelight, and he finds a way to do this by offering people valuable life-changing information in the form of content. He makes money doing it through advertising, speaking events and courses (Hey checkout his conversation with Chase Jarvis on CreativeLive).
Ikigai doesn’t always look as obvious as the example of Jay, though. It might look something like start-up founder Chris Myers, who explains how his passion is transparency, truth and helping people live at their highest potential. He translates this passion into purposeful work through his company BodeTree, which helps small businesses automatically organise their finances. His company is a vehicle for what matters to him. He is doing what he loves by helping small businesses, which in turn adds value to others.
Translating your passion into purposeful work looks different for every single person; it’s up to you how you choose to offer your value to the world. It could be as simple as making coffee for everyone in your office simply because you love it. The point of purpose is simply to be happy and inspired so that you show up as your best self consistently and affect lives positively!