Find Your Passion and Purpose! Uh, Excuse Me, But How?
By Mike W. Warren
It’s common advice to people who may be starting their life journey, who are at a crossroads in their life or are looking to take their lives to the next level, to:
- Follow your passion!
- Do what you love!
- Find your true, authentic purpose in life!
We’d be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees with these ideas. But it fails to answer the next question, which is: How do I know what my passion is?
Some people know what their purpose in life is. They were meant to sing, or become a doctor, or have a family and raise great kids. What about the rest of us? What’s the best way to find your life’s passion or purpose?
Testing to get the best answer
There’s really only one way that we ever solve these kinds of problems, but we may not realize we’re doing it. We try something, see how it goes, then try something else and decide which we like best. This allows us to compare A to B, and select the best fit.
In marketing, they find the message that best resonates with customers by presenting them with an offer. Then get a similar size and demographic group and make a 2nd offer which is similar to the first, but with some clear, easily defined difference. It’s called a “split test”.
The results of the 2 offers or ads are then evaluated (by survey, purchase or other feedback) and a winner is determined. Now they take the winner, create a new offer, submit that to customers and measure the results again.
Each time the process is executed, the result is one ad or offer which yields better results than the alternative. Repeated over time, this is a process that leads to steady improvement, improves results and ultimately gets closer and closer to what customers or consumers want.
Applied To Life
It’s not always easy to decide what we want, whether it’s career choices, potential mates or fitness regimens, from the comfort of our couch.
Our best decisions come from trying something, determining how we felt about it, and moving forward with the new information and perspective gained from the experience. It’s why we should date different people before getting married, take a variety of courses in college before deciding on a major, or try working in different departments in our company to assess where we find the most satisfaction. It’s what internships are for.
Fail Forward Fast
I heard a speaker once promote the idea to “fail forward fast”. As a determined perfectionist I found that advice lame, but now I understand what he was trying to say. If I try different alternatives over a period of 6 weeks, I’ll be much be better off than if I took 6 months to get the same information. Rarely are perfect decisions made the first time, regardless how much analysis we do before hand. Steady, consistent improvement is a much more effective approach, and the quicker you get those experiences under your belt, the better the decisions you can make.
What does this look like when applied to goals?
First, we set our sight on a target (goal). Then we just try whatever seems like the best way to reach that goal, paying close attention to our results. When we’re done or if we decide it’s not working like we had hoped, try something else. See how that worked, pick the winner and try again.
What’s the ‘Catch’?
The flaw in this plan for many of us is that we try something, it doesn’t work, we get frustrated and quit. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Believe me, I know. I’m the first one to hear “well, that was a waste of time” when I try something and don’t get the results I had hoped for. But on my better days, when I’m thinking a little more clearly, I realize that this is part of any process and the right thing to do is get back up and go again.
It Takes Effort
If you’re thinking this sounds like a lot of work, I would say…. “yeah?”. If you’re looking for the “big success, low effort” plan in life, think again. The rewards generally go to those who (a) work hard, and (b) work smart. This is a way to accomplish both.
In fact I think this is good news, because no matter how much or little talent, or what advantages, disadvantages or handicaps we may start with, this method can lead each of us to a better place. I find that empowering.
Consider the Wisdom of These Leaders
See if you can tell how the continuous improvement approach is incorporated into the following ideas:
The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure. Colin Powell
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Henry Ford
The most successful men in the end are those whose success is the result of steady accretion…. It is the man who carefully advances step by step, with his mind becoming wider and wider-and progressively better able to grasp any theme or situation-persevering in what he knows to be practical, and concentrating his thought upon it, who is bound to succeed in the greatest degree. – Alexander Graham Bell
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. – Thomas Alva Edison
Get started trying things. Move forward. Fail, as quickly as you can. For more information on this and other goal setting topics, check me out at Achieving Personal Goals.
You can read more at my Achieving Personal Goals site here.