A single-minded purpose or a purposeful life?

Some books have the power to change the trajectory of your life. Two books changed my own life trajectory many years ago. The first was The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, a course in discovering and recovering your creative self. The second was Firms of Endearment by Raj Sisodia, a book proving that world-class companies could be more profitable when driven by a higher purpose.

Both books inspired me to write my own books. The Artist’s Way was my constant companion for Unstuck in Provence while Firms of Endearment was the fuel behind Conscious Marketing which led to The Purpose Project.

Writing these books changed the course of my career. I turned from being a banker and marketer into an author and educator with a business specialising in teaching personal and organisational purpose.

It wasn’t my intention to become a purpose expert. I just wrote what was calling me because I wanted to change the world with my words.

And now here I am ten years later still teaching about finding purpose and living a purposeful life.

Purpose is an idea that has found its time in the sun. From start-up founders to corporate CEOs and everyday humans, everyone is talking about it.

Pursuing a life of purpose and meaning has become an imperative, not just a nice-to-have. If the pandemic has had a bright side, the pursuit of a purpose beyond profit and a pay-cheque, might just be it.

Finding purpose vs a purposeful life

There’s a difference between finding our purpose and leading a purposeful (or intentional) life. We need to kill the idea that we have one purpose to fulfil and that is what we must devote our lives to. It’s a boring notion and takes the thrill out of life.

Instead we might lead purposeful lives by taking on numerous projects, one after the other or at the same time. Treat them as experiments and see where they lead. Through action you will find clarity. No five year plans, just short-term projects (90 days to a year) that might become a long-term purpose.

Show not tell.

The upside of leading purposeful lives is that we become wicked role models for our kids. (By wicked I mean curious, adventurous, playful, experimental and brave.) It becomes a case of ‘show not tell’ by practicing what we are preaching and inspiring them to follow suit.

I’ve had a humbling realisation over the last couple of years that I’ve been preaching more than practicing. That’s why I devote time each week to two purposeful projects; the publishing of Brave Women Write and the launch of Love Stories of the Yarra Birrarung, alongside my work of teaching. Oh, the joy!

This was my sit ‘n write spot last Thursday at Alphington for Love Stories of the Yarra Birrarung. I sat on the muddy river-side bank for two hours waiting for passers-by to share their river love-story. I had zero takers but at least I got to discover a new swim-spot on my beloved Yarra Birrarung.

Conscious leaders in many companies know their people need meaning at work and an opportunity to pursue purposeful projects. It’s the key to a happy healthy workplace.  But you don’t need to wait for your leader to offer it. It’s up to you to bring your own why to work.

What’s your purposeful project right now? I’d love to know.

With love and purpose