How to ‘find your purpose’

I was recovering from a long term illness and the depression and panic attacks that it had triggered, my relationship had just ended and my job wasn’t going anywhere.  

I wanted to give up.

But instead of recycling the same old feelings and wondering why the same things kept happening, was it time to pick myself up and do things differently?

I spent the whole summer learning the skills I needed to change.  I read everything I could find on coding, business communication, copywriting so that I could convince the company I worked for to create a completely new role for me.  

I presented the proposal to the CEO who put me in touch with a man so high above my pay grade that I’d never even seen him in real life before.  I scheduled a meeting and when the mythical man walked in, I immediately understood why he was held in such high esteem. He had presidential presence. He commanded the room.  

“I’m going to ask some difficult questions.  That’s because I like what you’ve written. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t bother.”  

I wanted to be this man! I wanted to have this kind of gravitas!

When I told him about how I needed to redesign my role to stay excited about my job, he sat back with a quizzical look on his face then said something that changed my life:

“Who are you? I’m asking because you have something about you. You’re going places.”

Who… me?! Little, tiny, insignificant me who never even thought I was allowed to reach beyond my job description?  Who never believed in myself enough to stop hiding, to stop keeping myself ‘in my place’?

That short meeting changed everything. It defined ‘Purpose’ and ‘Passion’ for me which, until then, had seemed abstract and impossible… things like saving the Amazon rainforests, curing cancer.  But it turns out that for some of us,

maybe purpose is born in the moment when another person sees in you something that changes you from who you thought you were into who you want to be. And maybe your purpose is to create a moment like that for someone else

In less than ten words, I changed from being a person who hid myself away to a person who pushed myself and my ideas forward.  I changed from a person who thought she was mediocre, nothing special, into a person who believed I had something important to offer.  

And it felt like oxygen. It felt like breathing.

So if you’re looking for your purpose but think that saving the rainforests isn’t quite it, look for a moment that changed things for you, that made you feel special, that made you see yourself differently, that transformed something inside you, because maybe your purpose is to make that moment happen for other people.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”

Benjamin Disraeli

Who has changed the way you see yourself and what you’re capable of?

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. ironicus15 says:

    I like this piece more than the others. It is more personal and tells us a lot about you. The others are fine – very nicely written – but I’m not sure where you are in them. This more directly combines your own experience with the point you are putting across. Lannie – PS where’s my Christmas card?

    Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2kI


    1. Shâo says:

      This is really useful… thanks, Lannie. When I started this it was mainly to get better at being disciplined and committed by writing every day. But next up is ‘finding my voice’. It always feels riskier writing more personally but taking a risk is the whole point, isn’t it? For the first time I actually do have a Christmas card for you! Was going to give it to you last week. Text me your London address and I’ll send it today!


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