The Path to PurposeFeb 07, 2024
The human animal is an aiming, aspirational creature. We’re hard-wired by biology and evolution to set and achieve goals. It’s how we build identity, forge meaning, and find significance in our lives.
This is why so many of us have a nagging sense that we were born to be and do more and better with our lives than what was taught to us in school or is expected of us on the job.
At some point, some of us decide to hop off the hamster wheel of “the pursuit of happiness”1 and follow the path to purpose instead.
But the path to purpose is fraught.
We don’t receive much training or encouragement to “know thyself” in school or on the job. Sure, there’s plenty of well-intended advice about how to find your purpose. But most don’t align with time-tested ancient spiritual and philosophical traditions and scientifically vetted modern psychology and neuroscience.
What to do?
I have found that the path to purpose is as unique and distinctive as every individual’s purpose. There’s no roadmap that everyone can follow. After all, roadmaps can only take you where others are going (or want you to go).
You need a process that encourages you to build a compass and encourages you to use it to wayfind to your unique destination.
But where do you begin?
I use a two-step approach to help clients decide the difference only they can make in their life’s next chapter cultivating greater clarity and confidence as they continue.
Since many people who read things like this already have some idea of their purpose, we’ll invert the two-step process. We begin with the purpose refinement process. If you need help dialing what your purpose is, the second process will help.
Ready? Let’s go.
Frequency, Intensity, Purpose
Purpose isn’t something you discover. It’s an emergent property. Here’s how to encourage that emergence.
Frequency, Intensity, Purpose is an approach I learned from Randy Massengale,2 who was an advisor to Bill Gates and Microsoft in the 1990s.
If you have some idea of the work you’re meant to do now, this process is a force multiplier.3 It helps refine it and catalyzes your progress.
Here are the three elements.
Frequency nurtures your purpose by committing to a daily discipline of doing the work. This practice encourages developing the difference only you can make.
Intensity is your unique stamp on doing what you do. It’s revealed through mastery of the fundamentals of your practice.
Purpose is an emergent property. It develops from your commitment to doing work that matters and grows alongside your passion.
The essential thing to remember when employing Frequency, Intensity, Purpose is that it does not move in one direction. It encourages a micro-step approach of experimentation, trial and error, and following your curiosity and intuition.
As you explore, paying attention, remaining present, being mindful, and playing with possibilities without attachment are essential.
Sometimes, it will make sense to move from Frequency to Intensity and continue into Purpose. But slipping from Purpose back to Intensity and perhaps Frequency might make sense when you encounter dissonance, imbalance, or a lack of harmony.
The path to purpose is rarely linear. It also doesn’t guarantee specific results, such as fame or fortune.
The process is the shortcut and the reward.
“But what if I don’t know where to start?”
If you don’t have enough clarity about your purpose, the first thing is that it’s not your fault. Modern society encourages you to play the game of life by society’s rules, not to play your game.4
And yet, once you wake up to this fact, it is your responsibility to define your game and play it all in and full out.
If you’re looking to get started with defining the difference only you can make, here’s a Venn diagram of a process for getting started.
My clients, students, and readers succeed with this approach.
Again, the process is straightforward but individualized, so time and space don’t allow me to fully unpack it in this article.
However, if you need help dialing in your purpose, here are some questions to help you get started.
Who are you? What are your core values and guiding principles?
What are you good at? What are your natural talents and the skills you’ve learned that tap into them?
Where do you belong? Where are those who share your values and need your talents to enhance their lives?
The path to purpose benefits from some planning, but it begins with taking a first step into possibility. What’s your next step in your pursuit of finding fulfillment, forging meaning, and making a difference through identifying and leveraging your purpose?
And remember this. While your journey is intensely personal, it shouldn’t be traveled alone.
Trusted guides and fellow travelers provide the support, reflections, and questions you need to succeed on your terms.
If you’re ready to take a bolder step into possibility and your potential for purpose-driven living, consider completing the Catalyst Questionnaire.
Here’s a short video where I walk through the process of getting started defining the difference only you can make.
Scott Perry, Chief Difference-Maker at Creative on Purpose
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