Photo Credit: Flicker / James
In my last post, I wrote about mentoring two students who are in the middle of major life transitions, from school to “real world.” When I work with them, I ask them, “When you die, what will people say about how you lived your life? What is the story of you?” And I ask this of my individual clients, too. Why? Because in order for me to help you tell your story, we need to create an outline for where you want to go. Without goals or purpose, your story, any story, loses focus. And when we lose focus, we lose drive. Any job, any relationship, any choice will do. And we get complacent.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” – Anonymous
It’s true. If you don’t know where you’re going, or you don’t care where you’re going, then any road will take you there. But if you know, even in the vaguest of outlines, what kind of a life you want to live, you’ve already started to create the map. There’s a lovely post by Mark Manson on creating your life’s purpose. He shares a story of his brother, who at a young age knew he wanted to enter politics and lived his life and made his choices by that goal. I was very much like that brother (up to a point): at 17 I knew two things – I wanted to act and I wanted to go to grad school so I could have a career in brand management (a.k.a., marketing). I took classes, sought jobs and planned my life choices so that I would be set up for that end goal. By golly, that’s exactly what I did.
Not all of us have that clarity of purpose; and that is totally okay. That was the case for most of the people I knew going to college and to grad school – when you don’t know what you want to do, change your major, get another degree and figure it out there. And it happened to me too, eventually. After you check off all the items on your educational and career bucket list, you have to create new dreams for yourself, or you’ll just drift forever. For me, that meant following my other 17-year-old dream of becoming an actor and creating a business and a life focused on helping others tell their stories. My purpose: to give voice to those who can’t speak for themselves; and to teach those who can to use their voices do so in a more compelling way. To help people tell their stories. Why? Stories are the oldest form of connection. When we are able to connect with others, we’re able to help them in more meaningful ways. We’re also able to help ourselves create relationships and opportunities where there might have been none before.
Your life’s purpose, what you’re hoping to achieve and how you give back – that’s the story of you.
Tell me, what’s the story of you? I’d love to hear your life’s purpose, or if you don’t yet have one, what one thing you’re doing this week to help you figure it out?