Pick Your Purpose: How to Find Your Life Mission by Asking the Right Questions

Pick Your Purpose: How to Find Your Life Mission by Asking the Right Questions

Written by Emilie

Topics: Guest Posts

Editor’s Note: this is a guest post by Garin Etcheberry.

Like most multipotentialites, I was a multipotentialite long before I had ever even heard the term.

When I finally heard about it for the first time and I started to read about the multipotentialite mindset I thought “Exactly! That describes me exactly!” It was kind of like one of those moments when you’re reading a great book and the author describes a thought or emotion that you’ve had for a long time but have never heard put into words. It was very exciting.

My New Rebuttal

The most valuable thing that I learned was a rebuttal to the question “what do you want to do with your life?” or at least “what job do you want?” Looking back I see that without even realizing it I had been banging my head for years against the invisible barriers that these flawed questions create.

These questions imply that we have to pick one path in life and unfortunately they are extremely pervasive, subconsciously guiding our lives and choices.

We multipotentalites realize though that this is a fallacy and that we can pursue our many talents and passions at the same time. This is what makes our lives unique, exciting, and meaningful.

Today I want to talk about a different problem facing multipotentialites. It is another unseen obstacle, another pervasive and subconscious roadblock that holds many of us back. It isn’t as widely known but it is even more dangerous. And let me warn you upfront: when I tell you about this multipotentialite pitfall you’re probably going to have a pretty strong reaction. The idealist in you is going to want to pull away and hit the back button. Just hear me out though. The danger that I’m referring to is the idea that we were all born with a purpose.

Is “Destiny” a Romantic Notion or a Dangerous One?

Like many other romantic notions common in our society, we all love the idea of destiny. We love thinking that we were put on Earth for a specific purpose. We admire people who can say “Since I was 6 I’ve known that I wanted to be a doctor.The only problem is that the other 95% of us have no clue what we were put here to do!

So what does that mean? Are the rest of us doomed to live ordinary, mediocre lives until somehow our purpose is magically revealed to us? Do we merely hope to find meaning and fulfillment as we stumble through life? Of course not!

Unfortunately many of us spend too long- like I did in my college years- looking at our peers and saying “once I know what my purpose is, my burning passion, I’ll do great things. I hope that time comes soon though!”

We Pick our Purpose

The truth is that we pick our purpose. There gets to be a point in life where we just have to stick our flag in the ground and say “This is what I believe in. This is what matters to me and this is what my life is going to be about.”

Most of us probably can’t say that we’ve known since we were kids what it is we were meant to do, but all of us have interests, passions, convictions, and skills that we could easily say “this is going to be more than just a hobby for me. This is going to be my purpose.” Just take your favorite activity and decide that it’s going to be your purpose!

Why this is Good News

There are three particularly beautiful things about this:

First of all, just picking anything puts you ahead of 90% of the people in the world. Like they say, “the world moves over for people who know where they’re going.” Having a purpose and being on a mission is like being in the carpool lane.

Secondly, once you have something- anything- to stake your flag in it will become a fiery passion over time. You could pick something totally random like stamp collecting or wittling and if you decide that it is now your purpose it will transform from a mild interest into a life mission.

And last, looking at your life in terms of purpose instead of a job takes the emphasis off of the specific skills that you have and puts it on the mission behind your work. This allows multipotentialites to explore different formats, learn new skills, and do different projects all while still pursuing their core mission. It’s liberating and empowering and your life becomes more about what drives you as a person as opposed to what you “do.”

So How do Multipotentialites Pick their Purpose?

As I said, there is a ton of baggage attached to the question “what do you want to do with your life.” There are so many hidden expectations, assumptions, and subtext that limits and steers how we respond. Instead we should start asking ourselves and each other “what value am I going to add to the world?” It seems like a simple change in vocabulary but you’ll find that the impact is outstanding.

How will I Add Value?

Placing the focus on adding value will make you see the world in a new way. Rather than worrying about what other people expect of you, you will start to think more about what is important to you, what skills you have, where you derive enjoyment, and what your legacy will be. Simply asking this one question will spawn a hundred more that will start opening doors for you and will release your limitless potential.

Most importantly, asking yourself how you will add value to the world will allow you to integrate your multipotentiality. No one has the unique combination of experiences, interests, abilities, and motivations that you do so no one can add value in the same way that you can. Therefore no one else on Earth can have the same purpose as you.

I’ll use myself as an example. I’ve decided that my purpose is going to be helping people connect across borders. I love traveling and after spending time in Europe, SE Asia, West Africa, and Central America I’ve learned that we are interestingly different yet fundamentally the same. We all have cultures that are unique and sometimes extremely different, but at the end of the day we want the same things out of life.

Unfortunately this simple lesson is absent from our world, so my purpose is to help people overcome this. I have several skills and characteristics that make me uniquely qualified for the job. Once I decided to make this my mission I became so excited about my life. I encourage all multipotentialites to do the same.

So now it’s your turn. What is your purpose?

Garin Etcheberry is a traveler, adventurer, and the cohost of beginningentrepreneur.com, a weekly podcast where he and his cofounder document their journey of starting businesses. He is driven to achieve freedom and purpose and encourages others to do the same.

20 Comments

  1. Colleen says:

    What a wonderfully timed post! As usual, Puttylike delivers exactly when I need it. I just recently had this same revelation.

    For me, my purpose (now chosen, not “delivered from on high”) is to help people overcome the shame society places on us, and become proud of who they are.

    I especially love that this idea expresses a purpose, but not the way to do it. It’s like project management – you define the solution, but not how the problem gets solved.

    I may blog (almost certainly), do webinars, do podcasts, do coaching, do actual counseling, volunteer … but how I do it is less important than what I do (which allows me to use all of my lovely scanner skills, as well as giving me a very good excuse to learn more!)

    • Well put Colleen. I came to taht same revelation a few years ago but just recently was able to overcome the obstacles society puts in our way. That, in my opinion, is the most difficult part of possessing multipotentiality.

  2. jennifer says:

    As Neale Donald Walsh once said, “Your purpose is what you say it is.” I believe that my purpose is to be a guide and inspiration for people. How I go about fulfilling this purpose is through my various multipotentialite projects and interests. It so irritates me when people say they “don’t have a purpose” or “aren’t passionate about anything.” It’s not that they don’t have a purpose or aren’t passionate about anything, so much as they’ve listened to societal beliefs for so long that they put that purpose and passion in the trash because society doesn’t believe it can make them money or be a respectable job or whatever.

    • I couldn’t agree more Jennifer. Now that I think about it, I’ve known for years what my mission is but never thought it was legitimate because it didn’t fit into a one-word box like “lawyer” or “accountant”. Real missions are easily explained at cocktail parties, right? Wrong!

      Do you know in what specific ways you want to guide and inspire people?

  3. Brilliant post. I read the same thing on UP Authors: add value to your readers and posters. In their case it was to get book sales, but I didn’t realise that adding value also helps us show who we really are to the world and to ourselves. I changed my blog to make it more interesting and find I enjoy it more e.g. finding out about films I want to see each month etc.

    • Catherine, we talked about adding value all the time when I was getting my MBA but I never applied that to my life in general. Adding value is the reason we were put here, the reason why we’re alive, isn’t it?! Our job is to be a positive force in our environment.

  4. Janet says:

    great guest post!!! really on point.

    i am one of those people that bounces back and forth between existential free will and having a Purpose that you were *meant* to do on this Earth, and that maybe even everything is scripted (too much New Age woo woo for me).

    Ultimately I think it’s both. With the very real emphasis on YOUR power to *choose* (free will). Yes, you can define your purpose, but the way to do so is by relentlessly following your heart and trusting your gut intuition. When you do that, you awaken to your purpose… What you were meant to do all along. Because what you’re ‘meant’ to do is to simple be who you ARE in the most authentic way. Many don’t awaken though..

    • This makes me think of that line from The Last Samurai: “do you believe in destiny?” “I believe a man does what he can until his destiny is revealed.” I love that quote! My life needs more swordfights…

  5. Thanks for the feedback Colleen! I agree, “how” you do is less important than “what” you do, but the most important part is that you simply do! Don’t worry about having the perfect gameplan right at the beginning, just roll up your sleeves and dive right in. Good luck!

  6. I love the whole perspective here. I’m sure I have some multipotentialite in me and I’m also in the category of having no idea what job I really wanted nor a passion for a particular topic. I don’t eat, sleep and breathe any particular thing. Whatever “it” is, seems to be bigger than that.

    Going at figuring out what I’m about by asking the new questions makes a lot of sense. I’m going to give that a try and see what happens :-). Thanks much.

    • Of course you have a mission and a passion Cheryl! Follow my advice in the article and if I can do anything else to help you along the way- advice, encouragement, ideas, brainstorming, whatever- shoot me an email and I’ll do what I can. My contact info should be up at beginningentrepreneur.com. Best of luck.

    • Try looking at the things you do (or think about) every single day without being influenced. Your answer will lie somewhere in there. Even if all you’re doing is talking on the phone with friends…maybe you’re a problem solving, listen-lady. Nothing wrong with that.

  7. Denise says:

    I think you can have more than one purpose. I know I have a purpose of supporting my children with THEIR purpose and being a super positive person in their lives.

    And I have another purpose of supporting other entrepreneurs – I see too many people want to start a business, but have too many fears (myself included).

    • Denise, it’s exciting that you know what your purpose(s) are. I’ll tell you the same thing that I told Cheryl; if I can do anything to help you bring these purposes to life just let me know.

      • Emilie says:

        Yup, I agree with Denise. I think you can have more than one purpose too. I mean, one of mine is helping people embrace their multipotentiality and build lives around all their interests. But I think another “calling” of mine is helping people overcome the childhood bullying that they endured, and build their confidence from scratch. Luckily, these two purposes aren’t really that disconnected (they both have to do with empowerment and re-framing). But that’s a point I’m often making– that things are never as disconnected as we perceive them to be. :)

  8. Ebee says:

    I alternated back and forth between multiple callings (write, teach, heal) and kept looking for a career that could meet all three. Teacher (in the traditional classroom sense), social worker, and librarian were 3 professions that I spent several *years* after my BA deciding to go into. Finally before my 30th birthday, panic & frustration drove me to stop waffling I said, “screw it! Any one of these will be better than another bad secretarial or temp job.” I got accepted into an MLIS program and have been rewarded every day since. I am madly, passionately in love with libraries and connecting people with information and facilitating knowledge. I “picked my purpose” and it did indeed become one of my several chief passions in life. Emilie’s work with multipotentialities is helping me reframe libraries and other services I can do at a day job as well as in developing an additional livelihood/vocation. I spent (wasted?) years waiting for a flash of light and a booming voice from above, so I appreciate this article!

  9. Alexander says:

    Bloody love this and it eerily sounds like what I say a lot!

    Agree 100% that we are seduced by the notion that “if we just find out purpose it’ll all be unicorns and rainbows and it’ll be easy to bust my ass on the path.”

    It’s rarely that way. Most of us really don’t have a since-birth idea of what we want to do… and that’s okay, as long as we realize it !

    I think it’s pretty dangerous to wait around for the “purpose” to present itself too — there are a lot of specific ways to meditate on it and cultivate a sense of purpose and get started ASAP and not feel like we’re victims of destiny.

    Awesome post and I totally agree –

    Alex

  10. Eliza says:

    Perfectly timed post indeed! I just got my work visa denied by the French Governement and so all of the sudden, I find myself asking: what is my purpous? Here in France, or else where. But the scarry part about it isn’t that I might have to leave the country. What is unerving is that now a slew of new opportunities and possibilities lay before me and… I have to choose one! That’s just torture for a multipotentialite, haha.

    Do I opt for a workers Visa in one of the (at least) 10 other European countries that grant them to Canadians? Do I pack up and go home? Either way I have to do something to pay my way, which has led to me ask myself some of the key questions you’ve outlined here : what is important to me, what skills do I have, where do I derive enjoyment, and what kind of legacy my work will leave behind (one of my personal favorites to ponder.)

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