Mark Twain once said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
For some lucky people, “the day you find out why” arrives at an early age. But for many of us, finding our passion takes longer.
Vera Wang was 40 when she launched her beautiful line of bridal wear.
Pat Brown was almost 60 when he decided to find a way to produce delicious, affordable meat and dairy products directly from plants. Soon after, he founded Impossible Foods.
And then there’s Grandma Moses. She didn’t start painting until she was in her late 70s.
No matter where we are in life, each of us needs a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning.
Not long ago, I suggested five ways to “find your why” in a guest talk given to Hear Me Roar Toastmasters (HeR), which focuses on leadership issues of importance to women. I’m sharing the suggestions below with the hope that they’ll help others.
1) Get to know yourself better. This starts with knowing your core values. Do they include authenticity, a strong work ethic or kindness? Or maybe spirituality, community service, justice? When you have a clear set of core values, you can find a purpose that aligns with them.
2) Scratch the Itch. Think about an unmet need in your life. Is there a pressing concern or issue that isn’t being addressed? Or a product or service that doesn’t exist? This could become your why. Many organizations and inventions came about because someone who had an itch uttered these seven words: There has to be a better way.
3) Try New Things. Thousands of nonprofits, with all kinds of missions, need help with data entry, marketing, translating, teaching – you name it. Choose a volunteer opportunity that lets you explore interests. It’s a great way to discover what you like – and what isn’t the right fit before you make a long-term commitment.
4) Be willing to make mistakes. On December 26, 2010, I launched this blog. Having never written one before, I had no idea what I was doing. I made lots of mistakes — but I kept going. More than a decade later, I’m still here. I would never have gotten this far if I had let a fear of mistakes get in the way.
5) Join Toastmasters. The mission of this terrific organization is to help its members improve their communication and leadership skills. It’s also helped many people find their calling. Some become professional speakers and leadership coaches. Others transition into advocates, mentors and teachers. Joining Toastmasters lets you find your voice.
One more suggestion: As you explore your life purpose, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. That, by itself, can be very gratifying.