“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
After attending a big writing conference in February, I decided to do an audit of my book writing efforts. I avoid numbers like I would flesh-eating disease and haven’t done a proper check-in (Amazon stats) for a long while.
Most of what we are taught about business is about process, and everything I was trained for in my sales career was about logical, steadfast method. When I say process, I mean the mechanics of managing a successful business or career.
As the book industry—and the world—changes at a dizzying pace, we, as writers, are inundated with what we must do to succeed. Having been indoctrinated for so many years, and achieving a high level of success in sales by the A+B=C program, I have been a diligent and obedient student.
I could show you my four websites and write you a 100-page report on everything I’ve done, by the book, including the creation of an extensive marketing plan that became the example by which all future classes will use as a guideline (Momentum’s Women’s Business Accelerator Program).
So what did the audit reveal? A staggering defiance of the laws of physics. If a mathematician were to calculate my extensive efforts over the past umpteen years and determine what my results should be based on the law of averages, she/he would tell me that I have broken all laws of probability. What I discovered was that I could likely have done as well sitting under a coconut tree soliciting the odd passerby.
I have friends who are successful via a strict adherence to process. I have friends succeeding through radical non-conformity. And I have friends beating their heads against the same unyielding cement wall to live a painful and confusing reality.
Which brings me to the pursuit of our purpose. I believe everyone comes here with a unique gift (or gifts) to use and to share.
I had a life-altering AH-HA epiphany eighteen years ago while I was on a gondola in Venice. A stranger saw who I was before I knew who I was. As we floated down a dark canal, she blurted out, “We think you’re really a famous authoress, traveling incognito and you’re just not telling us!”
I’d been a voracious reader since childhood and realized, in that beautiful Italian moment, that I’d always wanted to be a writer, but had not given myself permission to be one.
The following year I began to write and self-publish while working full-time in a sales career. Destinations Extraordinaire is not just a small business idea; it is what I believe to be my life’s purpose, and my raison d’etre.
After reviewing my audit, I’m wondering if maybe I’m off base. Or … maybe I’m going about it all wrong.
Do you believe you have a purpose? Do you believe you are living it? Do you care? And the big question: if you were given a month to live, do you feel you have fulfilled your life’s mission?
I have always been on a quest for meaning, but since another harsh brush with my mortality, this question is the theme of my existence:
Why am I here?
Our purpose could be something less grand than we imagine. My mum has frequently stated that she’s never known or fulfilled her purpose. I beg to differ—emphatically. She has been a Mother Hen of Excellence and gave us a sense of balance and love in an often-tumultuous family life. She has an innate sense of goodness and generosity and has instilled many values that have served her three chickadees well. Now she has reassigned all of that good mothering to her six grandchildren who revel in a deep sense of safety and love in her care.
While doing some research on ‘finding your purpose’ I came across a blog post called, How to Discover Your Purpose in About 20 Minutes. When I read the instructions, I thought the concept was an interesting one, but that I would definitely not cry, as the writer stated. Because I have spent innumerable hours pondering and journaling on this topic, it was a speedy exercise. Within a minute, I was in tears. (I recommend you give it a try if you’re at all interested in finding your purpose.)
For graduation night at business school, we were asked to write a letter of commitment to ourselves and recite it aloud. It is a worthy task for clarifying what is most important to you. This was mine …
My self-commitment is to:
Rebuild my life through my writing and speaking. My vision is to create a business to support myself while living a completely authentic life that honours my values.
Investigate beautiful planet earth while inspiring, sharing insights, entertaining, revealing the soul, and promoting compassion through storytelling.
Excellence: a commitment to ongoing learning, and to improving my writing, artistic, and speaking skills.
Challenge the status quo and be a pioneer by incorporating play, pleasure, joy, and love into business.
Be a goodwill ambassador as I make my way through the world.
Continue to stretch myself by doing things that I’m afraid of, but that will grow me and inspire others to do the same.
And lastly, to make enough money so that I don’t have to do my own damn bookkeeping!
Possibly the universe is telling me to toss method and the myriad rules to the wind for a while. My surrender after last year’s flood exposed a sweet secret. Pragmatism and process are not always the way. I learned that magical things can happen when you just relax, listen to your heart, and allow.
There sometimes comes a point when we need to do a 360. When you’ve proven to yourself beyond a shadow of a doubt that following convention is not bringing you to your life’s mission the way you’d envisioned, it might be time to play by a different set of rules. For someone who is addicted to plodding along the path of process—which means throwing a lot of poop at the wall to see what sticks—it may be a formidable challenge to shift perspective, but it’s one worth testing.
Do you feel alive each day? Excited? Exhilarated? If you find that you are fighting your way against a strong current and going nowhere fast, or feel utterly uninspired, maybe it’s time to turn the game upside down.
Maybe instead of strategies and tactics and dodging flying monkeys, asking for the guidance of our White Witch (divinity) and clicking our ruby slippers (our higher wisdom) with faith will spawn better results than following the herd’s methodology. More active gratitude, visualization, meditation, and heart work, less marketing. More listening for the guidance, less busy work. For others it may be letting go of doing the same things over and over while seeking different results (definition of insanity, according to Einstein).
The pot of gold at the end of the Yellow Brick Road, for me, is life with a deep sense of purpose, peace, play, and joy. How I get there or where I land may, after all, be none of my business.
Check out my new website The Write Way Gift Café with some neat new gifts and a cool way to practice random acts of kindness for $5 a pop!
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Post © Wanda St.Hilaire