What If ‘Purpose’ Isn’t Just a Career-Related Achievement?

NOT into reading? LISTEN to the audio version instead! (Or listen to me narrate along as you read the text. Best of both worlds? #AudioBlog)

This week’s blog post was supposed to be on a career-related topic I had spent days polishing up, as career (or at least ambition and achievement) is something my identity has been attached to since my earliest of memories (which you’ve probably learned by now.)

But I think a lesson that I’m being taught (or rather, reminded of) this week is that…there’s so much more to life than that.

Like millions of people, I was shocked by the unanticipated death of Chadwick Boseman — the Black Panther himself, an incredibly inspiring artist, who succumbed to colon cancer at 43.

I spent Friday night browsing through social media, taking in the reactions, quotes and videos that were being shared as the world mourned this loss.

This one in particular moved me — it resonated because of its focus on purpose: that God-given thing that motivates you to do what you do.

“The funny thing about purpose is that it unfolds more and more to you every day.”

– Chadwick Boseman

Purpose became my new blog post topic for the week – something I felt innately compelled to write about.

In fact, when I first decided to pivot to this Chadwick Boseman “purpose” blog topic, I fully intended to explore it with professional goals in mind, as I’m a huge believer in doing the thing you’re put on earth to do.

But the truth is, Chadwick Boseman’s passing wasn’t a reminder of purpose as it related to career at all — at least for me.

Chadwick Boseman’s death, for me, was a reminder of…well, exactly what I wrote in a couple late-night Instagram posts.

Re-reading these today, I couldn’t help but think…what if purpose isn’t just career-related, a title to strive for? What if it was something else?

Reflecting on both my two-hour observation of Chadwick Boseman casually hanging out with friends at an Italian restaurant on Beverly Boulevard during Black Panther’s opening weekend in 2018, as well as my initial reaction to his death (the latest casualty of 2020), I noticed the focus wasn’t ever about accomplishments in either of the above posts. Instead, the focus was on joy and happiness and authenticity and the people in one’s life.

Was there something more to that?

INNER VOICE:  What if, in a broader sense, purpose isn’t some outside goal that has to be attained?

SK: Then why do people strive to find a purpose? If it’s not an external goal?

INNER VOICE: It can be a feeling or belief – a motivation usually based on your own inner values – that then drives your every day actions.

SK: So “finding my purpose” is really just code for “finding my inner motivation”…?

INNER VOICE: Yes

SK: And based on what I highlighted in those social media posts, my motivation likely is based in…

INNER VOICE: Human connection.

SK: Which I could do through artistic endeavors – like a book or a show – or through interviewing someone interesting, or befriending strangers while campaigning or hosting a monthly brunch with friends or simply hugging my mom…

INNER VOICE: Exactly. If ‘human connection’ is indeed your purpose, then even you just hugging mom daily would fulfill that (though knowing you, you’d still strive to do more than that.)

SK: Right. Like…at least twice daily. *smirk*

LESSON

Instead of thinking one’s purpose is to be [insert random impressive job here], what if the focus is instead on the motivation?

What if it’s:

  • To make people feel included? (i.e. an event planner – or simply giving someone a ‘like’)
  • To share new insight, offer a new way of thinking? (i.e. a revolutionary politician – or simply canvassing for a cause you care about)
  • To brighten up days? (i.e. a comedian – or simply offering a smile while walking past a stranger…you know, pre-COVID)
  • To connect with others through shared experiences? (i.e. a NY Times best-selling author – or simply going for a walk with a friend)
  • To make people feel like winners? (i.e. Lebron James on behalf of his city – or simply complimenting someone on their outfit)
  • To serve God? (i.e. become a religious figure – or simply volunteering or helping someone out)

Viewing purpose as what motivates you, rather than the “title” that you must attain, makes finding your purpose a task that can be done without feeling like you need to literally change your whole life path around or accomplish something that gets you in TIME Magazine.

This, to me, makes sense.

This feels realistic.

This feels like something attainable.

This makes it clear that everyone can live their purpose — yes, even in the COVID era.

Because purpose is not the career goal, but rather, the motivating factor that influences the actions you take (which may or may not include a career goal, depending on your own needs and if ambition is something you value.)

Basically…you can live your purpose and have a big, lofty goal (i.e. becoming the leader of Wakanda), while still practicing a simpler version of it in the meantime (i.e. leading a fun conversation with a few friends while at an Italian restaurant on Beverly Boulevard.)

Recommended Listening: Thomas Rhett – Be a Light

In a place that needs change, make a difference
In a time full of noise, just listen
‘Cause life is but a breeze, better live it
In a place that needs a change, make a difference

(These felt like very purpose-driven lyrics that I happened to hear while driving Saturday, hence the choice. Enjoy. I’ll see you next week. — 💜SK)

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ICYMI…PREVIOUS BLOG POST: Why Do I Always Need to be Right? (i.e. How to Lose a Friend in 10 Seconds)

START THE JOURNEY FROM BLOG #1: Am I Too Scared To Start Things?

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