Purpose is an anchor.
The words had barely escaped my lips when I knew I was on to something with that statement. I was talking to a friend about speaking at the Savvy Workshop, and I was explaining why purpose was so important.
An anchor is used by ships in heavy weather to help keep it stable. If life is an ocean, there will be storms, and in the midst of the storm, you need an anchor to keep you stable, focused, and on track. You need purpose.
Purpose brings balance. If you’re feeling lost, and are afraid you just can’t figure it out, or you don’t know how to do it all, or life just doesn’t feel like it fits at the moment, then you are probably lacking purpose. If everything feels out of balance, out of control, and life has tossed you into the middle of a storm, if you don’t have a purpose to anchor yourself to, you’re going to be floundering.
Purpose creates consistency. If you are having trouble making ends meet, and you feel like you’re barely scraping by, chances are, you haven’t defined, and aren’t focusing on, your purpose. You are probably all over the place, with multiple “ideal clients” and “tons of ideas”, none of which ever seem to really take off. Or, you might be too afraid to step out into an idea and flesh it out, because you’re tired of feeling defeated. Focus on the ideas that relate to your purpose, and you’re back on track.
Purpose creates a cause. And people love a cause. Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Communicating your purpose becomes an opportunity to share your passions, your dreams, your goals with people, and it gives people a chance to cheer you on, and champion your cause.
Purpose becomes your plan for how you handle every decision, business or otherwise. When your purpose becomes clarified, so do your actions. Your purpose will tell you what to start, what to stop, and where to focus.
Purpose creates a niche. In business and in life, let’s face it–it’s impossible to be everything to everybody. I know. I’ve tried. Purpose helps you focus on what IS possible, and do that, even if it seems like an outlandishly extraordinary dream. Refining your purpose helps you focus on what you can be the best at, and then reminds you that you don’t have to be anything else. And that’s ok.
Purpose creates authenticity. Your purpose is different than everyone else’s. It’s unique to you. It makes you who you are. Focusing on your purpose highlights your uniqueness. There is nothing authentic about being the same as everyone else. Your purpose will be refreshingly original to the world.
Purpose is more than a mission statement. It’s more than goals. It’s one step above a mission, or goals. It’s a vision, and a doggedly-determined belief that that vision can be achieved. And that vision, that belief, that purpose, becomes an anchor. It doesn’t change. Everything else around it can change or evolve, but it never, ever changes.
Because purpose never changes, it can be so hard to find. Purpose is that elusive core of who you are, that can’t be slapped with a label or a stereotype. A therapist can’t tell you what it is, and a branding company can’t put a logo or messaging around it. It has to come from within you. It has to stew over time, to see if it fits, and so it may need to be rolled out in tiny increments–bits and pieces here and there of who you are and what you believe. And purpose is found by answering a simple question: WHY?
Are you a photographer? Why?
A graphic designer? Why?
A blogger, a crafter, a freelancer, a creative? Why, why, why, why?
Why are you doing whatever it is you’re doing?
The answers, on the surface, are simple. To make money, to preserve moments, to capture memories, to make the world a more beautiful place, to spread word, to encourage, to feel fulfilled. And while surface answers are good, that’s not all we’re going for here. You need to dig deeper. You need to go all the way to the very core of what you BELIEVE to find the anchor that is your purpose.
Fair warning: just when you think you’ve got this whole purpose and why thing nailed down, you’ll need to start living it. Be disciplined about living your purpose. Deal with the fear. Know you were called to greatness. Envision extraordinary. Go ugly early. Say thank you. Say no. Finish something. Find some time to renew, focus on your purpose (refine it, don’t change it), and then start again.
While I’ve saved this post for last, it’s actually the first step in the “Finding Purpose” process. The challenge for you: define your WHY. Are you going to be committed to finding it and living it? Are you willing to face down fear when it creeps up, in order to keep your focus on your purpose?
Find your purpose. Do the hard work. Dig deep. The sooner, the better.
P.S. I didn’t write this blog post as a tool to promote the Authenticate Brand Critique sessions, but if you’re having trouble figuring out your purpose, the Authenticate process can help hone your focus. I started the Authenticate sessions because I needed someone to hash through my WHY and my brand with me, and figured it was something else other creatives might need as well. If I can be of any help to you, please don’t hesitate to contact me!