We are all seeking to find purpose in our lives, that is, to find the thing we most want to become. When we lose that sense of purpose, we get confused. That’s why, on a rainy August night, while camping in Wisconsin, I started to cry. Not because I was sad, but because my purpose was about to change. I had decided to leave my job, friends, and the country I had called home where I thought I would stay forever. It was a decision that was two years in the making. I thought of my nephew during my last trip home when he told me, with tears in his eyes, that he doesn’t see me enough and when I do come home, he knows I will just leave again. In the middle of Yellow River State Forest, with the rain falling like pebbles on my tent, I suddenly came to a realization that had eluded me since I gave my resignation letter two weeks prior. I stopped crying and felt a sense of happiness. Today I want to tell you about the concept that came to me during one of my most vulnerable and uncertain moments.
Passion + Intention = Purpose
In that instant, I realized that my purpose in life had changed. Traveling around the world, and working in Iowa as the Program Director of a youth mentorship program was accomplished. In its place, a new sense of purpose emerged: To be the world’s best uncle in Barbados. These three words (Passion + Intention = Purpose) are seen more as buzzwords, are sometimes difficult to define, and often are seen as clichés. Follow your passion! Live with purpose! What does it all mean, and how do they connect? That night it became clearer.
How Do You Find Purpose?
Passion is the ‘why’ behind our decisions and desires.
“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how’.”– Friedrich Nietzsche –
‘How’ and ‘what’ are incredibly important factors, but they are rational decisions and can change at a moment’s notice. But why? “Why” is an emotion, it’s a deep feeling in our souls that fills us with hope to accomplish our dreams. Having passion alone is not enough. We can all remember moments where we had that wonderful idea of what kind of careers we wanted, or that whimsical adventure we were going to take. Or maybe it’s that new hobby or side hustle you were going to pursue. What became of it? The reality is that a passion without intention is just a nice feeling or idea of what could be.
The intention is the action, no matter how small, that helps our passions become reality and drives us towards our chosen path. Simply, calling for information on how to apply for a new educational program, setting up a meeting to gain more information on a new venture, or researching online how to get started in a new hobby. Intentional action drives us towards our purpose. Most importantly, intentional steps should be celebrated along the way, making sure we enjoy the journey along with the destination.
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Purpose, at the most basic level, is what you want to become. It is potentially a loaded word that conjures up a feeling of stress and anxiety, especially if we are uncertain what it is, unsure if we are on the correct path, or have not achieved it by the time we anticipated. Seeing it as ‘on a journey towards our purpose’ takes the stress away. It becomes a summation of small intentional steps that are planned, evaluated, and improved. Purposes can also change because you are the author of your own life and destiny. There is no shame or guilt in changing course, adding more (volunteering, running a 5k), or feeling fulfilled and finding a new one.
When You Find Your “Why,” You Find Purpose
Putting this equation together helped me to dry my tears and go home knowing my “why”- To become the world’s best uncle in Barbados. I had a renewed passion for my being with family and as such, I took intentional steps to return to Barbados. All of a sudden going home made perfect sense, as scary as a step it was.
Where Do You Find Purpose?
We are often told that we need to find purpose in our work. Our careers are a significant and essential component of our lives. As we grow older, we may feel stuck, or have the impression that our job is not as purposeful as we imagined, but it helps us to take care of our financial obligations.
Does this mean we have failed and aren’t purposeful? Not at all! You have simply developed a different purpose in life, your family.
Passion is your kids + Career that pays well and offers ample time off = to be a great parent.
You very well might have the job you always dreamed of, but you are now unsatisfied and thinking it’s time for a change. Go for it! You have enjoyed a career that gave you a sense of fulfillment, and now it doesn’t. A need for a career change can come at any age. And quite honestly, the ability to rekindle your fire with a new passion and purpose is incredibly exciting and rewarding!
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However, let’s be realistic, the best-planned intentional steps do not always succeed as we predict. In other words, what do we do when we can’t find purpose? In my next article, I will address how to handle the disappointment, negative feedback, and healthy steps forward (stay tuned…).
All of us are looking to find purpose in our lives. So, go forth, follow your why, choose your intentional steps, and go towards the purpose you have chosen.
Born in Barbados, Marlo Clarke played for the national rugby team until he moved to Iowa in 2012 to become a Youth Program Director. After seven wonderful years, Marlo moved to Europe for a year to travel and craft his TEDx talks “How was your day today?” and “What now? What next?” Currently, he is a global public speaker, teacher, and writer.
“I don’t always have the right answers, but I eventually find the right questions!