If you read this blog regularly it’s not going to be news to you that the main reason we all over-extend ourselves is because we can’t help but say yes to everything. Why? Because ‘everything’ is an opportunity and no one wants to let amazing opportunities go begging.
Ultimately though, saying yes to everything just leads to resentment (because we find ourselves doing tonnes of stuff we’re not really that passionate about) or burn out (from doing tonnes of stuff we’re not passionate about).
It’s a fact of life that people seldom burn out doing something they love – even if that something is very consuming and keeps them very busy.
So how then do we figure out what we love?
How do we figure out the things we are passionate about?
How do we figure out our purpose in life?
Well the first thing you have to do is clear some space in your diary. Because deep down you actually know the answer to this question. But you’re so darn busy you can’t actually see your way to answering it right now!
Once you’ve created some clear air in which to think, it’s time to ask yourself some questions. The answers should be very telling!
Question 1: What do your friends and family know you for or rely on you for?
Is it being passionate about raising money for various causes and having a deep care factor for those less fortunate than you? Do they want you to write them an exercise program or tell them how to eat more healthily? Do they want help fixing their computer?
Are you the go-to person when it comes to organising all the social gatherings? Or connecting people with the best person to help them do … anything?
Question 2: What do you find yourself reading about obsessively?
Is it the sports pages of the daily newspaper? Is it every marketing book you can get your hands on? Or every self-help/personal development book? Does politics fascinate you? Or is the state of the environment a huge concern?
Question 3: If you find yourself bored (ha ha yes fellow parents I am laughing too) what do you find yourself doing?
Reading a book? Heading out into the garden? Immediately calling a friend to come and have a coffee with you? Sketching up the bones of that new business idea you’ve been dying to implement?
Question 4: What do you absolutely make time for in your life (besides the essentials like food, family etc)?
For me it’s exercise, writing and reading for an hour each night before I go to bed. For my husband it’s exercise and being able to read the paper in peace every day. For some people it’s crocheting. For others it’s being able to blog.
Question 5: What makes you super buzzy?
What’s the thing that once you start talking about it you can’t shut up? The thing that makes your friends and family laugh ‘there she goes again!’ What’s the thing that after you’ve been talking about it for a while you just feel completely energised and ‘buzzy’?
For some people it is food, for others it is movies and concerts. The options are endless!
Question 6: What’s something you happily do for no money and if someone were to pay you for it you’d feel guilty because you enjoy it so much?
I always think cricket commentators fit firmly in this category. I mean seriously, they get paid to talk about the thing they love most in life when they’d be delighted to do it for free!
I know for me writing is that thing. I write because I can’t not write. So when I get paid to write … well that’s just a giant bonus.
The final step
Answering the above questions is going to throw up a LOT of stuff and you’re probably thinking I’m no closer to figuring out my passion and purpose than I was at the start.
Which is why you now need to look at all your answers and distil them down by answering a few more questions:
Of all the things that make you super-buzzy, which are the ones that if they were missing from your life you would feel quite bereft.
For me these were writing, reading, running and being healthy in mind and body.
Where is your ‘tribe’?
That group of people you love being around because ‘they speak the same language as you’? I have a few tribes – my athletic friends, my bloggy friends and my writerly friends.
When are you at your best within your tribes?
For me I thrive when I help people through giving advice and mentoring.
So my biggest passions in life are writing, reading, running and being healthy in mind and body.
My purpose is life is to help people in some meaningful way.
I really start to thrive when I manage to put these things together.
Once I figured this out it became clear that every ‘opportunity’ presented to me wasn’t an opportunity at all – there were lots of time sucks in there. So I started saying no to opportunities that didn’t fit with my stated passions and purpose.
Life didn’t become any less ‘busy’. But it sure became a lot happier and more fulfilling.
Are you feeling a bit frustrated with life at the moment? Need a bit of help finding your passion and purpose in life? I’m going to be running a (free!) week-long series covering off some of the exercises above in more detail in September. If you want to be sure you don’t miss it, jump on my email list here.
Bloggers, why don’t you link up your favourite post from the week just gone (it doesn’t matter which of us you link up at, your post will be visible on all of our sites). Readers, why not check out some awesome blogs you may not have come across before.