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The one question to ask NOW if you want to discover your purpose

With all its resolutions and its “words of the year” and its best intentions, the turn of a new year can feel overwhelming for lots of us. . . especially in a year like 2021. 

Completely transparent: It’s been a smidge hard for me to step into any mode of excitement or expectation for the new year when I know that a pandemic still looms over my head. 

I’ve always been someone who can handle just about any tough situation, as long as I know there’s an end in sight. But this pandemic has thrown me for a loop. There is no real end in sight, and my fear of the unknown has felt paralyzing at times. 

Especially when it comes to my business. 

How do you grow something when everything feels so uncertain? 

That answer for me, it turns out, is really akin to the doctor taking her own medicine: You anchor deep in your purpose, Lindsay! 

Because helping others find and claim their purpose is what I do for a living, you’d think that anchoring firm to my own would come easy. 

But that’s just the lesson that I’ve come to work through with you: Finding and keeping our purpose ISN’T easy. 

It’s hard work. It’s exhausting work. But it’s also NECESSARY work. . . mostly because as human beings, we’re uniquely + intentionally wired to pursue purpose. And so, no matter how much we try to avoid it, this question of purpose never leaves us alone. 

Just think about the percentage of our lives we spend trying to decode our purpose. Of course, we don’t go around like a crazed philosopher asking every ear that will hear, “WHAT’S MY PURPOSE!?!” 

We’re more civilized than that. 

Instead, we disguise the question with more socially accepted queries:  

What major should I choose?

Should I take this job offer?

Who should I marry?

How many kids should I have?

Should we buy this house?

Should I take that promotion?

Should I pursue that advanced degree?

Should we move to that state? 

If you think about it for just a millisecond, nearly EVERY question we struggle with in life comes back to the idea of purpose

And more specifically, I’d argue that nearly EVERY question we utter in our short lives is just a pared down version of a deeper, more frightening question: Why am I here? 

Last year, I interviewed more than 66 business owners (most of them women), and every time I’d come to the end of the interview, I’d ask this question: Of all the things you could have chosen to do in life, you chose to become a ________.  Why? What brought you to this career, and even more, what keeps you here? 

It feels like such an obvious question to me, but with a 100% response rate, not a single business owner has ever said to me, “You know, Lindsay, I’ve actually thought about that question a lot in my life.” 

Instead, every single person has said, “Hmmmppphhh, that’s a really good question. . .” 

And then, they’d show me WHY they thought it was a good question. 

Their voice would pause. 

Their breathing would slow. 

And almost always, their memories would replay a single event in their childhood. 

>>I’ve been rearranging and designing spaces since I was 5 years old. 

>>My mom was always pursuing success. She was the one who wore the suit to work and spent 60 hours a week at the office. I didn’t want that for my own life.

>>My dad owned his own business, and he had some really bad legal advice. It caused his business to go under, and I knew then as a teenager that I wanted to spend my life making sure that didn’t happen to other people. 

>>I have ALWAYS been fascinated with numbers, even as a kid.  When I was a teenager, I started writing on investing. I’ve always been so passionate about my community, and this was a way that I could help others build better lives. 

Whether we’ve dug deep to verbalize it or not, we ALL have a reason for doing what we do. Sometimes, that reason is deep and twisty. Other times, it’s completely functional and clear cut.

>>I started out thinking I was going to be a neurosurgeon or a cardiothoracic surgeon. But then, I realized that totally boxed me in, so I found my way to plastic surgery. Today, plastic surgery is like the surgeons of old. We don’t just do cosmetics. We do EVERYTHING, and that lights me up. 

Summed up in one word, this client chose to become a plastic surgeon because she didn’t want to be BORED. But her purpose remained the same: She wanted to HELP people live better lives. 

A few weeks ago, my son’s asthma doctor told me, “I started my undergraduate degree expecting to become a veterinarian. This wound up being the easier, more sensible path.” 

Note to self: Ask Dr. S how he feels about studying pediatric lungs and aveoli instead of delivering cows. I suspect if we really dug in, his PURPOSE centers on helping living beings live their best quality of life. He thought those living beings were going to be cows and dogs, but somewhere on his path, he realized it was really little kids who had a hard time breathing. 

Purpose, it seems, isn’t always found on a linear path of life. In fact, most times, it’s coiled up like a slinky at the bottom of the stairs. 

It requires US to put it into action, and when used the wrong way, it can become ineffective real quick. 

So friends, if you’re on the hunt for your purpose, here’s a question for you: Of ALL the things you could have chosen to do in life, WHY this? And what is it that keeps you here? 

I’d love to know your thoughts.

Not sure how to tell the story of your purpose?  Join What’s Next? – a free 30-minute masterclass for business women who want to discover their superpower so they can grow a profitable, heart-and-soul aligned business.