What is your purpose? Is the answer clear as a bell or do your palms start sweating at the mention of it? There’s an entire industry built around the concept of finding one’s purpose. But what if the answer is a simple formula?
Matthew Paetz is a personal coach who helps his clients find the path to their passion. His powerful story of abuse, addiction, and near-suicide is the reason why he helps others learn to live their best life. Through his work, he discovered the secret to finding purpose.
To start, he shares 4 key insights to define purpose:
- Purpose can’t be found
Isn’t this entire article about finding your purpose? Yes, but it’s time to throw away the notion that it can be found. That’s because purpose is actually an emotional state – not a destination.
Just like other emotions such as joy, anger, or happiness, purpose is a state that can help create the rhythm of your life. But it isn’t somewhere you can go.
- Purpose isn’t just about our passions
You may believe that if you follow your passions – and love what you do – you’ll find your purpose. After all, your passions are the things you like to do. They create inspiration, motivation, excitement and fun.
But here’s a secret: many people become successful doing what they love and still have a void in their lives. They reach a false summit and wind up even more unfulfilled than before.
- Purpose is born from pain
To be purposeful is to be of service or of value greater than self. Doing something for others – for the greater good of others – is what gives you a sense of purpose or fulfillment. If that’s your purpose then where better to extract wisdom than from the things you’ve struggled with yourself!
The painful part of your life is where your purpose is born. That’s because your struggles bond you to others. And when you bond with others, you have to power to help them.
- Your body is wired to keep you safe
Did you know your nervous system doesn’t care about your success? It has just one job – to keep you safe. For most of humanity, that meant staying alive. Today, you’re a primitive operating system trying to function in a modern society. You’re rarely faced with those original threats like cold nights or ferocious animals.
Instead, the things that make you feel unsafe are your insecurities, doubts, shame, guilt, and anger, to name a few. When your nervous system is constantly working to protect you from your feelings, it can be difficult to work past them.
These four insights lead to the formula for purpose:
Pain + Passion x Safety = Purpose
Pain – Extract the wisdom from your deepest struggles. The aspects of your life that you feel disqualify you from fulfilling your purpose are actually what enable you to do so.
Passion – What has your attention? Let yourself lean in to what you enjoy doing or feel led to do more of. Your passion is the vehicle you will use to deliver your wisdom to the world.
Safety – Stop running from the things you’re hard-wired to avoid. When you confront them, you won’t need to resort to survival mode. Instead, progress will begin to feel safe.
Your life is happening for you, not to you. Practice the formula above and live out your purpose.