Do you feel like you’re struggling to find your purpose in life?
Well, if I might be so brazen, I know where you should look.
And it’s probably the last place most people think to go to find their purpose.
At least, I know it was for me.
On the Hunt for Purpose
If you’ve read my newest book, All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!, you know I wasn’t exactly pursuing my purpose for many years. I felt stuck in a cubicle. I felt frustrated, bitter, and broken.
All the big dreams that once burned inside of me, began to sizzle out like a sparkler on a summer sidewalk.
I wanted to pursue my purpose and passion, but I began to wonder if the pursuit was pointless. That all this finding your passion and purpose talk was in fact a Millennial farce like so many people paint it to be.
So I began to write.
In a broken down motel room with four locks on the door is where I wrote my first page — as I stared at the door and wondered why three locks wasn’t enough?
From that night on, I wrote everywhere I went.
And yet for most of that first year writing, I didn’t even know what I was writing about.
So I wrote about the struggle. I wrote about the unanswered questions. I wrote about the frustration, the problems I was facing that I didn’t have an answer for.
That’s when it began to happen. I began to find my purpose in the least expected place.
I began to find my purpose in my biggest problems.
We don’t find our purpose despite the struggle. We find our purpose smack dab in the middle of it. (click to tweet that)
As I stared at my biggest questions and frustrations about trying to find my purpose, passion, and place in my 20s, and I failed to find any simple answers, a passion began to boil to help others who must be experiencing the same problems.
Often times our purpose is disguised as our biggest problems.
Failure doesn’t ruin your story. Failure helps you write it.
The most significant achievements typically aren’t birthed out of inspiration; they are squeezed out by necessity. (click to tweet that)
You see this idea played out in most of the greatest inventions, movements, and social changes throughout history.
Two quick examples:
- I just watched the movie Joy — based on a true story of inventor and QVC host Joy Magnano. She stumbled upon her purpose as an inventor and TV host due to a problem she experienced daily in her home — her old mop was disgusting, she had to ring it out with her hands, and it didn’t work very well. So she invented the Miracle Mop on her path to becoming a millionaire entrepreneur.
- In the book Red Notice, Bill Browder tells his amazing and harrowing true story of being the most successful US investor in Russia. Through his subsequent problems of then meeting the ugly face of corruption face to face and the people he loved who it tried to destroy, he went from making millions through investments to being one of the most vocal advocates in fighting for social justice and human rights in Russia.
What are Your Problems Telling You?
If you’re struggling to find your purpose, look to your problems.
What are they telling you? Is there a path or solution waiting to be discovered that you just haven’t seen yet?
Your passion is driven by the deep desire to solve a deep need.
You can only find your passion when you’ve failed miserably at something, yet the next day you want to do it again.
When you’re truly passionate about something, it becomes something you cannot, not do. (click to tweet that)
If you’ve gone through something painful you will do more to help alleviate that pain for others than someone who has never experienced that pain themselves.
Your pain and your problems become redeemed on the pathway to helping others overcome the same things.
So if your purpose feels lost at sea, you can’t give up now.
Your greatest purpose might be found in your greatest problems.
(Your calling is) the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” – Fredrick Buechner
Your struggles aren’t a distraction from your calling, sometimes your struggles are the pathway to it.
Just like the butterfly who can only fly because of the struggle out of the cocoon — you need the struggle to prepare you for your purpose.
You need the struggle to infuse in you the grit, perseverance, and humility it takes to produce change.
The Gift of Problems
Your biggest problems might be your purpose waiting to be unwrapped.
Like the most meaningful present you could ever open, yet covered in barbed wire. It looks nothing like the gift you’d expect, yet inside is meaning, resolve, grit, and a passion you didn’t know you had.
Look at your problems, and you might find your purpose waiting there with a slight, knowing smirk.
(I go much deeper into the 6 ways to identify a problem in your life that you might turn into your purpose and passion within my Finding Your Signature Sauce online course. And I’m letting everyone preview the entire lesson and workbook questions right now for free.)