Projecting confidence is easy enough if you have confidence to project. But what happens if you’re lacking confidence to begin with?
Allow me to illustrate this with a situation we’ve all been in:
Imagine you’re at a social gathering with people you know from college, high school, your hometown. Let’s say it’s a wedding and you know most of the people there, but you haven’t seen them in a while.
When they ask you what you’ve been up to since graduation, or how life’s treating you, you freeze like a deer in headlights. Speechless, your confidence goes out the window and you mumble something unremarkable.
As you wonder at how such a benign question totally deflated you, you have a revelation!
The truth is, you don’t find your work fulfilling, you are lacking a close friend or confidant, and lately you haven’t had time to do the fun things you used to do, such as painting or playing hockey.
So in your mind, you’re thinking, “what’s there to talk about?”
Hmmm…okay. Well now it makes complete sense why you’d tweak at what seems like a harmless question. It’s hard to sound confident when that’s your state of mind.
Wouldn’t it be great if, instead, when someone asked you that question, your face lights up and you speak with glowing confidence about what you’ve been up to?
Well I have just the remedy for helping you get there.
It comes down to one word: Purpose.
Today we’re going to talk about how to find purpose and how a strong sense of purpose can be a tremendous source of confidence.
Let’s get into it.
Alright, let’s start with a quote from Oscar Wilde, the great novelist and playwright:
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
Sit on that for a second. Oscar is highlighting the difference between existing and living. They sound similar, but they’re not.
All living creatures exist. But they don’t all LIVE, at least not in the Oscar Wilde sense.
Existing is merely a state of fulfilling your biological functions. You eat, you sleep, you wake up and do it again. That’s about it. Nothing else particularly matters. You do it, your goldfish does it. Sounds dull, right?
Living, on the other hand, is so much more. Living is to transcend your biological functions and partake in the grand buffet of life. Wonderment is around every corner and you don’t have enough time in the day to see it all.
When you are living, you eat and sleep because you must, but such things are a distraction from the bigger picture. When you wake up, you do so for a reason. When you take your first waking breath, you feel invigorated. You have so much today that you wish to accomplish; nay, you MUST accomplish!
To live is to have a purpose.
Now at this point, you’re probably wondering, what exactly do you mean by “purpose”?
So let’s define purpose, and then we’ll look at how to find it in our lives. After that, we’ll discuss why that matters.
You with me? Ok, good.
Definition of Purpose
According to William Damon, author of The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life, purpose is: “a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond the self.”
Purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning, and more importantly, it gets you to do it willingly, even gleefully.
What do you look forward to each day? What can’t you get pulled away from because it’s so important to you and, by extension, the world? What gives meaning to your life?
Purpose can vary greatly from one person to the next. For some, it might be the work they do in their laboratory or the content they write for a publication, or the art they produce in their off-hours, or even their foray into parenthood.
Whether it’s a job, an unpaid passion or both, purpose looks different to all of us.
And in a world where we have so many choices and not enough guidance… it’s up to us to give our life meaning and purpose.
Having purpose is the most wonderful feeling in the world. Every minute counts and every action you take is deliberate. You see the world with absolute clarity.
By contrast, not having purpose is painful. There is an emptiness at the pit of your stomach and each day feels like grueling slog that you must somehow get through. The world appears confusing and uninspiring.
In fact, a lack of purpose is a primary catalyst for depression and anxiety. And it’s no wonder such feelings are on the rise. We are not given any time or guide for how to find purpose. We go straight from school to a job we may not love, and we’re pressured into starting a family before we may be ready.
Meanwhile, we haven’t really taken the time to ask: “why am I doing this?”
How to Find Purpose
When it comes to finding your purpose, “why am I doing this” is actually the first question you need to ask yourself.
Finding your purpose is all about finding the “why” of your life. Why does it matter if I wake up? Why does it matter if I get out of bed?
A great way to start thinking about this is to keep a journal. Write down what comes to mind at the end of each day, and after a few weeks, you might start to notice a pattern in terms of what you are writing about.
Typically, you write down what is meaningful to you, and that’s a good place to begin exploring your purpose.
What’s amazing is that finding your purpose doesn’t necessarily require you to make any drastic changes to your life. Purpose might already be hiding in your existing day-to-day and you just haven’t noticed it.
For example, even if you’re not enjoying your job, that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to quit to find a sense of purpose. Instead, consider carefully reviewing everything you do at your job to determine if there’s anything about it that you actually enjoy. If so, that might be an opportunity to create a sense of purpose.
Or maybe it’s not the job itself, but the people you interact with at your job. Maybe helping them do the best they can do is fulfilling.
Or zooming out even further, maybe it’s not your day-to-day work that matters, but the bigger mission of the company. If you can get inspired about that, then you know that every hour you put into your work brings that vision closer to reality.
More than anything, finding your purpose is an exercise in listening to your inner voice. According to Eric Barker, a prolific personal development writer, it’s about asking yourself identity-forging questions like:
- What’s most important to me in life?
- Why do I care about those things?
- What does it mean to have a good life?
- What does it mean to be a good person?
- What does the future me enjoy and appreciate in life?
- If I do or don’t pursue XYZ, will I regret it in 5 years?
This introspection process takes practice. But rest assured, it is very much worth getting good at.
Why Purpose Matters
So why does a sense of purpose matter?
Well, we’ve discussed how a sense of purpose can dramatically improve your mood and perspective on life. It fills you with energy and generates momentum that carries you through any challenges that the day serves up.
For those reasons, purpose gives you confidence – confidence that you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, even if you don’t yet know how to do it. Purpose provides certainty that what you’re doing matters.
And when you act with purpose, you project strength, authority, and authenticity. Your presence and the energy you exude inspires others to be their best, and in many cases, your purpose becomes their purpose. Talk about a win-win!
Once you find your purpose, you’re not just existing, you’re living.
Alright, that was a big one. Big questions, big discoveries, all of which lead to big confidence.
To briefly recap:
- Purpose is what gets us out of bed and gives our life meaning
- Finding purpose is a gradual process of self-discovery
- Achieving purpose provides a deep sense of confidence and fulfillment in yourself and those around you
Now if you can say at this moment that you know your purpose, that you are on a mission you care about, well congratulations. That means you’re living, not just existing. Keep at it.
But if you can’t say that quite yet, that’s absolutely okay. Most of us are in that spot. But that doesn’t mean we have to stay there.
I strongly encourage you to embark on your own journey of self-discovery to find your purpose because when you do, the world will be a better place for it.
So now that I've shared our thoughts, I’d love to hear how you go about finding purpose in your life. What gets you out of bed and why? If you haven’t found it yet, what steps are you going to take to do so?
Share that with me and the Explearning community in the comments below.
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With that, have an awesome week, Explearners.
Thank you so much for joining me and I’ll see you next time for your next Explearning lesson.
Happy Explearning ⚡