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Maggie Mistal

Maggie Mistal

January 20, 2015

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Find Your Purpose

So you finally have a terrific job at an amazing company making a great living. By society’s standards, you’re a success. So why don’t you feel like one? Probably because you want to do work that energizes you and makes a difference, two qualities that are missing in your current position. So what’s a girl to do? It’s not like you can just quit your job and go save the whales, right?

True, not everyone is in a position to leave the job they hate at this moment. But what you can do is slowly start moving in the direction you want to be in. Not only will you feel much better about your current job, but someday (hopefully sooner rather than later) you’ll be in a position to leave your field to do what you really love. In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you start your journey.

Get out of your own way. Too often people don’t believe in themselves or their abilities. Instead, ask yourself what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail. If you had all the talent, support, resources, experience, etc. that you needed, what would you do to make a living? I asked a client these questions and her response was “travel writing.” She’d always wanted to be a writer but never thought she was any good. I coached her to take a travel-writing class and get a professional opinion before ruling out a writing career. To her amazement, she found that not only did she have talent, but her instructor advised her to submit a few articles to a local magazine. Now she’s published!

Write your biography. Think about what you want your life to stand for, what you want to accomplish, and what you want to leave behind as your legacy. Are you most concerned with tackling injustice, or perhaps promoting creativity? Deep inside you there’s a fire burning and you need to let it breathe. So consider what you care most about saving, protecting, stopping, or establishing and envision your career accomplishing just that. In the meantime, volunteer for a charity or organization that works to help the cause you’re most passionate about. (If you can’t find one nearby, talk to your co-workers about starting a chapter at the office.) Or log on to Taprootfoundation.org—they connect skilled professionals with volunteer consulting gigs for nonprofits.

Be a kid again. If you’re still drawing a blank in terms of defining your purpose, try going back to your childhood. What was your favorite activity as a kid? Believe it or not, what was fun for you at 5 is usually fun for you today, and can have a direct correlation to your life purpose. Take Oprah, for instance. As a young girl, she lined up her dolls to interview them. Similarly, one of my clients loved horseback riding as a child. In looking back, she realized that as an adult, she longed to be her own boss, hold the “reins” of her career, and gallop where she desired. So go ahead and regress a little. You might just find that you’ve known your purpose all along.