Over the month of November, I will be posting one blog a day under the theme of ‘My Biggest Lessons’. This is an expression of the 30 biggest things I’ve learnt over the last two years in transforming every single aspect of my life – getting over depression, launching my dream business, going vegan, paying off £100k in debt etc. Click the tag ’30 Biggest Lessons’ to find more blogs in this theme.
 Your purpose is to express the highest version of who you are
I’ve written about ‘purpose’ and ‘how to uncover your purpose’ for just over two years now. As each month passes I get more and more clarity on what this means. As in: what is a ‘purpose’? How do we know if we have a purpose? How do we uncover our purpose? And especially – how can I live out my purpose?
In recent months, I’ve realised something pretty cool and I’d like to share it with you here…
I used to say everyone has a unique purpose but that’s not quite true. Everyone has the same purpose in life and that is to express the highest version of who we are. What makes this purpose unique to each of us is that ‘the highest version’ of ourselves is different for each person. So for example, the highest version of one person might be to learn forgiveness (and that’s a big ask for this person) whereas the highest version of another person might be to communicate an important message to one million people (a big ask for this person too).
You see, your purpose isn’t about scale or even impact: it’s about realising your personal destiny; it’s about expressing the truest form of who you are.
It requires us to be true to who we are and it requires us to find the courage we need to express it outwardly. This is why it does us no good to live out the expectations of others or compare ourselves to other people. In many ways, this is the opposite of living a life of purpose.
Living a life of purpose means bringing your external world into alignment with your internal world. Those secret ideas, that crazy idea, the dreams you play over and over in your head.
I often ask my coaching clients: ‘what would the world look like if everything were perfect’. The answers are all so different. Some people say ‘well, we wouldn’t eat animals’ and others say ‘there would be no such thing as poverty’. Some people say ‘my daughter would be free to marry who she wants’ and others say ‘we’d change the way children are educated in schools’. It’s really cool hearing what people say and I don’t think they realise, at first, that they’re expressing an element of their purpose in life.
In return, my clients often ask me ‘is it possible to have more than one purpose’ and I think it is, although each purpose or intention will manifest in different ways at different times to different degrees.
For example, I believe that everyone should be able to make a living doing what they love. I know it’s crazy but I just don’t like the idea of ‘jobs’ and working 9-5 in an office just to pay the mortgage. It’s the idea of getting up every day, putting on a uniform of sorts and trekking across a city to be at a desk at a certain time when you don’t really want to be there. Fair enough if you do but most people I speak to hate their jobs and have a dream to run their own business.
It seems crazy to me that we keep going into work when it makes us so unhappy but, of course, it didn’t feel crazy to me when I was doing it for six years myself; first as an employee and then as an employer.
In fact, because of this, my intention in life is to never hire anyone but instead to work with freelancers and business owners who want to work with me not for me. Now, I’ve built an entire business around this idea: teaching people how to make a living doing what they love so they don’t have to ‘have a job’ to get by. I’ve built courses, I’m writing a book, I give talks, I post a weekly VLOG on my journey and I have really big targets for how many people I want to help next year. It’s huge and I give a lot of my time and energy to it. This is my purpose right now and that is how it’s manifesting itself in this moment.
But, I also believe in the fair treatment of animals. By that I mean I don’t think we should eat them, wear them or test on them. I know there are lots of views on this and that’s mine. Right now I’m vegan, I buy cruelty free products (check out Arbonne for skin / beauty products – amazing!) and I’m planning a vegan cooking blog but I’m not in a hurry to get this off the ground. I’m not sure why – it just isn’t happening right now. It will come out when the time is right, when I’m ready to give it my all. My goal with this purpose is therefore very different and I think this hints at an important concept when it comes to purpose.
We all have a purpose and that is to realise the fullest version of who we are deep down. But, in order to live out our purpose, we must also get a deep sense of joy from making it happen.
You could say that purpose isn’t just about what we feel driven to do but what we enjoy doing in the moment, and both can change over a lifetime.
This means that each of us has a unique journey ahead of us. It begins when we stop doing what’s expected of us and we turn inwards to listen to that little voice inside. That voice that says write, leave, stay, hand in your notice, forgive, start, stop, travel, do it. It’s not even ‘one big thing’. It’s the 100 things you’ve always wanted to do but never dared because of fear, circumstances or self doubt.
And that’s why living a life of purpose doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not one major change you make. It’s 1000 changes over a lifetime. It’s that one time you stand up for what you believe and never go back. It’s the one time you say no and prioritise your plans and then continue doing from then onwards. It’s the one time wear what you want to wear and then change your entire wardrobe over the year. It’s the one time you help someone in the way only you can and then do it again and again for more and more people. It’s the one time you express an idea even though your friends find it peculiar and then you share it far and wide.
You see it’s not ‘where you’re going’, it’s who you become. It’s who you are: who you already are. Purpose is about realising who you are and then stripping back all of the distractions and masks and cover ups to actually be that person.
This is such a different way of thinking. Instead of looking outwards and asking ‘who am I supposed to be’, ‘what can I achieve’ and ‘what can I collect’ it means turning inwards and asking ‘who am I deep down’, ‘how can I express myself’ and ‘how can I be of real service in this world’?
My life changed dramatically when I did this; when I finally gave up trying to impress others and ‘be successful’ and started doing what I felt called to do. The first major change I made was giving up my recruitment company and marketing agency. This was so hard because so much of perceived identity was tied up in my reputation as a successful business owner, an MD etc. I was so scared to tell my clients and I was so afraid of being judged. But I was even more afraid of dying so miserable and so I made the change. Other changes I made included launching DARETOGROW, cutting my hair, going vegan, talking about crazy topics like ‘purpose’ haha.
What I’ve realised in time is that my happiness, joy, peace and sense of fulfilment were never in my successes or my ‘identity’. Yes I’d built big companies and had some pretty major wins but I also had severe depression and forgot what happiness was. Now, I get to make a living doing what I love whilst baking vegan cherry scones in the middle of the day. I teach people how to change their lives by writing blogs and filming my journey. And I know happiness and how to cultivate it.
I’m still coming to understand my purpose on this planet but I know it involves helping people to wake up to this new reality and helping to free animals from cruelty. My sole focus now is building a life around these two intentions. One day at a time.
So my question to you is ‘what would the world be like if everything were perfect’?