Everyone has something unique to express, some unique gift or gifts to give to the world. Giving that gift is our Work or purpose. And in giving it, we are most truly ourselves. Taking the time and making the effort to clarify our purpose leads to a greater sense of wholeness, connection, and meaning. Here is an exercise I found useful in clarifying my purpose. It comes from The Path of the Everyday Hero by Lorna Catford and Michael Ray.
Question: What is my Work?
Exercise: Do what you love; love what you do.
We use two forms of the word work to differentiate between our everyday professional work and our essential life’s work. Our work is what we do every day, our job or profession… Our Work, with a capital W, refers to our reason for being in the world. It embodies our highest purpose and transcends our everyday work…
All of us have both our Work and our work, whether we have articulated this or not. It is our Work that gives us meaning and very often is set aside in order for us to do our work to pay the bills. Do the two have to be separate? How can you have both going at once?
Do What You Love
When have you felt the joy of being alive? What are your most important values? How do they manifest themselves in your daily work and interactions with other people? In the last twenty-four hours, what has stirred your soul? If you answered “nothing” to this last question, what would stir your soul?…
If you consider your life, you’ll probably find that you felt most fulfilled when you were either doing what you loved or when you somehow saw the higher purpose in your life and were able to love even the drudgery connected with it…
All available evidence says that it is in doing what you love that you will find your purpose. There is a connection between what we feel deeply about in our soul and our highest purpose in life. For at least one week, live by the motto Do What You Love, Love What You Do. Keep it alive in the back of your mind…As you live your week with this motto, you will be in a prime position to discover more clearly what your purpose is, and how you do or do not live your life according to your purpose. Experiment. See what happens.
Here are some things you might do during the week:
• Be conscious as you do things. If you find that you are not loving a certain activity, just stop and see how that feels.
• Increase the amount of time you spend (as close to 100 percent as possible) in activities that are intrinsically interesting, personally rewarding, and feel natural to do.
• If you encounter a required task that does not meet these criteria, figure out a way to transform it, or your attitudes about it, so that you love doing it.
Be sure to stop and observe your actions. Take some regular time every day (most people find that the evening is best) to reflect on your last twenty-four hours. Make some notes in a journal about your experiences.
Love What You Do
How can you live with the second half of the motto: the Love What You Do part? The more you examine this question, the more you will realize that living with the second part of the motto is just as involved with your ultimate purpose as the first part…When you live with purpose, even drudgery can incorporate a sense of purpose and fulfillment. For example, you might be bothered that you have to clean the kitchen when you cook or make a long commute to your job. But if these tasks are necessary to express your essential self, you can see them in a larger context.
Your challenge is to think of one task you absolutely have to do this week that you do not love to do. How can you perform this task so that you love it? Identify one thing that you must do this week. Then jot down three ideas for ways to do it so that you can love doing it.
Something Unpleasant I Have to Do:
Three Ideas for Enjoying It:
Now go about your business for the week, and make use of at least one of the ideas you just wrote. When you have actually done the unpleasant task, write a brief evaluation in your journal of what happened in your attempt to love doing it.