Life purpose – finding it really has nothing to do with serving people
There are loads of guru’s, old and new, that say the answer to finding one’s life purpose is to serve others.
Serve others? What does that even mean?
From a noble persperspective, perhaps this directive is all about literally working to save people and/or the planet? Perhaps ‘serving others,’ means that we should apply for a job at the UN or Greenpeace or join a Big Brother/Big Sister program? Maybe it means that we should volunteer to help fight the war on terrorism, drugs or crime?
Or perhaps, serving others doesn’t necessarily mean getting a job that supports world change. Maybe serving others is about being a good friend, learning how to parent in a way that supports emotional, mental and physical growth or merely looking for opportunities to assist those in our community.
But if you’re only serving people in your social life rather than your work life, or vice versa, are you only living your life purpose on a part-time basis?
To be rich and successful you need to serve people – don’t you?
When I was growing my financial empire I learned from a mentor that the secrete to success was to be helpful. To give, give and give. Create things that solve a problem and then overwhelm the target audience with so much value that they want to buy from you over and over again. This is what I called ‘service.’ No, I wasn’t helping to save starving children but I was employing several people, saving people money, providing serious value and positively engaging in life.
I was serving customers, employees, suppliers and partners through my companies. On a personal basis I was serving others by being a good friend, a supportive family member and holding doors for the elderly.
From my perspective I was doing everything I could to serve others however a growing part of me kept thinking I should do more. I should be building houses in Africa or finding a way to create clean water systems.
I was serving people and I definitely didn’t feel like I was living my life purpose
For years I felt as if I was following the rules to success yet I felt something was wrong. I certainly wasn’t living my life’s purpose – that’s definitely for sure. Yes, I was ‘serving’ people and yes I made money, but after you have everything you want/need money has no relevance.
But was building houses in Africa the answer? (no)
When I had my ‘mid-life challenge’ and left my company I spent a year or so pondering what my life purpose might be. I had several opportunities to join charitable organisations and/or work for businesses with very lofty world changing goals. None of them felt right.
I’m not sure when or how the penny dropped but eventually I realised that finding my purpose had nothing to do with thinking of others first. It wasn’t about figuring out how to serve the world. In fact, I came to the realisation that asking ‘how can I serve others?’ is not the right question to ask regarding the pursuit of one’s life purpose.
Ironically, however, once you find your life purpose, you inevitably serve others in the process, but I’ll come back to that.
Your life purpose is all about YOU first
Your life purpose has nothing to do with what your mom, the Dali Lama, your partner or your teacher think. It’s all about what makes you feel alive. What makes you excited, engaged, happy, excited. What makes you want to jump of bed? What gives you little butterflies in your stomach when you think of it?
As a side note, I went so many years without allowing my heart to sing that I had no idea what would excite me. I dreaded getting up in the morning and sadly, the more money I made the more depressed I got. It took a lot of introspection and questioning myself to determine my life’s purpose so if you have no idea what makes your heart sing, don’t fret too much – you can figure it out just as I have.
Kim’s steps to unearthing your life purpose
- Understand that what you believe creates your reality and you can believe anything you want to believe. Change your beliefs and your life changes (Read my book, How Life Really Works, for more information on this concept).
- Realise that you’ve been installed with the beliefs of your parents, peers, the media, goverment, and your communities about what you could,/should or couldn’t/shouldn’t do regarding your life path. Your installation may not be benefiting you. In other words, you might need to remove or change some beliefs you have about life purpose and serving others. These beliefs about what you can and cannot achieve are often hard to spot, but if you purposefully look you’ll find them!
- Your life purpose is all about finding out what you love about life. It’s about figuring out what makes your heart sing and then doing it. It’s NOT about forcing yourself to be or do things you don’t like to do. It’s not about reading a ‘How-to-get-rich’ book and then following an action plan. At worst, you won’t get rich and the journey might be laboured and at best, you’ll get rich, have a crappy journey and realise you’ve been pursuing the wrong path! Please don’t go after riches only – go after your life purpose and the riches will come.
Look to others that are already living their life’s purpose
There are many every day people that are living their life purpose – either part or full time. They’re the one’s you talk to about any profession or topic and they light up when they speak about it. They might be talking about 3D printing, playing Minecraft, investing in the stock market or making pottery bowls. They come alive and glow as they express themselves. They’re natural, authentic and their personality engages us to want to be near them.
Think about the people you engage with. Do any of them stand out? Who do you feel inspired by? Who do you want to be like? Are they living their life purpose? Are they doing things they love to do and because they’re doing so, are they shining?
One celebrity that I love to watch is Jamie Oliver – his passion for food and cooking is so infectious. Not only does his love of food pour out but whole life purpose revolves around it. He has lobbied to get everyday people cooking healthy great tasting fast food in addition to making school lunches more nutritious and delicious. He has worked hard to give underprivileged people a career path in the food industry and always comes up with new ideas on how to expand his purpose to more and more people. Jamie Oliver oozes a passion for food and life is a conscious creation of doing what he loves most. Imagine if Jamie Oliver was told to ‘stay out of the kitchen,’ by a teacher when he was a child and Jamie listened? He would be depriving us all from his amazing creativity.
What were you told not to do when you were a child?
This was my path from living a life without purpose to one that’s now full of purpose
I write loads on this topic, so read more of my articles or biography if you want to know my past. In a nutshell, I became financially successful by starting and managing a few companies. My whole worldview was very materialistic – life was all about making money. It had nothing to do with being happy or fullfilled.
Once I made money I realised that I was chasing something that was great to have but didn’t make me fulfilled. I then analysed my life and took an inventory of what I liked and didn’t like. This happened over a year.
I had to be honest with myself and it was difficult at first. After lying to myself for so many years, I had no idea what I really thought. Over time, I realised that I didn’t like being a boss. I didn’t like HR, Legal stuff, Management or Finance. I didn’t like working in an office or a 2 hour commute. I didn’t like the idea of competition or someone having to win and others having to lose. I didn’t like my whole life revolving around something that seemed so uninteresting (my main company was currency exchange).
I did, however, realise that I love to write. I love working with others on projects. I love connecting and I love to flow. I love people. I love to understand how life really works and how we can all increase our fulfillment. I love live and I love to write about it. I also love sailing 🙂
The beliefs that hampered my efforts to find my life purpose
Sadly, I had a few beliefs that hampered the early arrival of me being able to live my life purpose. I believed that I couldn’t write (professionally). A teacher told me that it would be better for me to pursue a career outside of writing. Another teacher told me that the best I would be able to achieve would be a job at McDonalds. I also was installed with the ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy. Furthermore, Dad told me that it’s a dog-eat-dog world and you need to screw others before they screw you (and I believed him). Hopefully, you get the picture.
The essence of all of this is this: I grew up with beliefs that hindered my ability to pursue what made my heart sing. I was told by some people that my skills were not good enough. I was told by others that the world doesn’t work the way I want it to work. It was instilled in me that life sucks and then you die. How sad is that?
Eventually, however, I learned how life really works and realised I could change my beliefs and then change my life.
What does my life look like now that I’m living my life’s purpose?
As a result of my contemplation, questioning and desire to live MY life purpose, I quit my job, sold my possessions, bought a very nice 56′ sailboat and now I’m going to sail around the world writing about the things that make my heart sing. To read about my sailing adventure, please go to Sailing Britican.
Because I’m now being me – I’m authentically doing what makes my heart sing, everything is flowing. My life is amazing. I can’t fall asleep at night because I can’t wait for morning to come so I can live life more. I jump out of bed full of excitement. And because I’m being true to who I am and what I want I am inevitably serving others.
What’s the point?
My point is this: Serving others is the result of figuring out how to live a life that truly makes your heart sing. Find your life purpose and then you’ll notice that you’re indadvertedly serving those who come in contact with you.
Kim Brown helps people to find their life’s purpose and exponentially increase their fulfillment. To get started read Kim’s book, ‘How Life Really Works: The Answer to Finding your Purpose & Personal Fulfillment’