Find your purpose! Follow your passion! Really? Fuck you!
I’m sick of reading, hearing, and seeing that advice. It’s not helpful. In fact it hurts.
I have too many big important interests that draw me in so many exciting directions. Having a single purpose is preposterous. Plus, there are days when I have a crapload of actual work I need to do and none of it has to do with “my grand life’s purpose.” I’m not going to find my purpose so stop telling me I should.
For most of us out here,† at least every single person who’s worked with me, the idea of “finding my purpose” is oppressive and depressing or irrelevant or, at best, a beautifully, temporarily inspiring fantasy. This is what a lovely man from Vietnam wrote me yesterday.
“What got me depressed the most is I haven’t found my purpose, my reason for the time being on earth.”
I do not believe “finding your life’s purpose” is possible for most people. I do not believe “follow your passion” is the path to a passionate life. I suggest you stop looking before you follow your self into a deep hole.
What’s useful about Purpose and
Passion (for me).
The concept of Passion (with a capital P) is useful to me when it’s about doing what I believe in. For me, Passion involves small experiments every week to try out my beliefs in the physical world and see if, sure enough, doing it feels right in my bones. That’s it.
There is not single purpose for me. There is not one answer. There is no single calling. I think that’s true for a lot of us. In contrast,
We connect to Passion through the different roles we play.
Here’s how I locate Passion.
- Explore the role I play in each situation.
- Discover “where the heat is,” where my work creates more energy by helping others or shifting something in how I see the world.
- Figure out what to do next week.
- Do it.
What role generated some heat for you last week?
As far as purpose goes (no cap), I think Steve Martin had it right in The Jerk, when he described what his mother called his “special purpose.”
It’s up to us to develop deep enough, conscious enough, creative and loving work in the world and do our best to keep doing it.
†If you found your purpose and it’s working for you, then please tell me about it. I love hearing those stories. They’re rare and worth spreading, and I mean that, but also please tell us how you came to it. (Reply to me personally or tell us all in the comments.)