with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Finding Your Life Purpose

Passion comes in many forms. It provides us with keys to our heart. The power of passion will provide you with the fuel to enjoy a new hobby, create a new career, and do something that serves others in a very powerful way. Your purpose in life is what you do to feed that passion.

I believe that many people are living their passion already, but they just don’t realize it. Passion is a powerful force. My favorite definition of passion is focused energy that turns the light on in your soul.

Finding your life’s purpose is similar to finding your life’s passion. While they are similar, they are also a bit different. Before we get into helping you to find your life’s purpose, let’s look at the difference.

The Difference Between Purpose and Passion

In the simplest of terms, passion is your heart’s desire, the thing that makes you get up in the morning and what drives you through your life. It is an action or activity that gives you joy in the process of living or doing it. It doesn’t matter if it is baking bread, climbing mountains, strumming guitar, writing songs, singing, dancing, driving cars really fast, or yodeling. Everyone has an activity that gets them motivated and inspired through the doing.

A purpose is more of a mission statement. It is the true reason you find joy in living your passion. It is the answer to the “because” and the “why” in your passion. You may find joy in baking bread because it feeds people or makes them smile or connects you with your past spent watching your grandmother knead the dough with her gnarled fingers. The because is the feeding of people and the why is the connection with your grandmother. You may love dancing because you love stretching your body to its physical limits or the ability to express emotions through movement or the expressions or sound of applause from people who enjoy the art form you present. The passion is the dancing and the because and why (purpose) is related to challenging the physical you or expressing emotions through movement, or the reward of acknowledgment. The “because” and the “why” justify your purpose in life. There can be many purposes behind your passion, but most people honestly have only one true passion and one purpose, and together the combination gives them the reason to keep on moving through life.

Sounds a little fairy tale, right? To judge the magic that passion and purpose bring to one’s life would be belittling to the power of this spiritual combination. One of the joys of watching the television talk show, Oprah, comes from her new focus on her own purpose to change the world by inspiring people to be better than they think they are; to help others see the potential in who they are and help them take the steps to change their lives, whether it is to look good or release dark fears held in silence due to cultural indifference or resistence. While Oprah Winfrey’s purpose is changing the world through teaching, and her passion is the reward of watching people change.

Over and over, Oprah introduces us to other people who are living their passion and purpose. You can spot them in a minute, can’t you? There is a glow about them, an energy that says “confidence”, “I know who I am”, “I can do anything”, and “I am okay!” I know you want some of that, so let’s look at how this works.

How Do You Know If You
Are Living Your Passion and Purpose?

I honestly believe that we are living our purpose in life even though we aren’t aware of it. Passion and purpose are strange things. They motivate us to do things in powerful ways, moving through our unconscious mind out into the real world. We have to become conscious of our life, lifestyle, and life actions to notice what our passion and purpose are, but they are always there. They are so strong, they peek out from behind our self-imposed restrictive living layers of self to expose itself all the time. We just have to pay attention.

As a young child, Ruth felt she was ugly. Her mother died when she was nine, leaving Ruth to care for eight brothers and sisters, and her father was frustrated with the lack of adultness in this nine year old to run the family. He psychologically punished her in ways that he thought would keep her “in her place” taking care of the family. Ruth now believes that he thought that if she felt she had no value outside the home, she would have to stay and take care of the family. His fear of abandonment was that strong. And Ruth became the parent, moving her family to a kibbutz to help care for the children, Ruth felt unloved, unwanted, and ugly. Her move into the teenage years didn’t help. As in most fairy tales, the ugly duckling grew into a stunning woman often mistaken for Elizabeth Taylor. Yet, inside, Ruth was still the awkward, unwanted duckling. When the children were old enough, she drifted into the cosmetology industry trying to find her own unacknowledged beauty. Yet, her years of care taking brought an overwhelming desire to take care of other people, and what better way to do that than to help others find their own beauty. For more than 30 years, Ruth has been bringing beauty out in people as a top cosmetologist, working in California, Africa, France, England, and finally coming home to Israel.

When I asked her what she thought her passion was, like most of us, she had no idea. As I got to know her better, it was clear exactly what her passion was, but still she didn’t see it. She wore it on her face like moisturizer, unaware that she was living her passion and purpose every day.

One day she called me up all excited. She had been working with a young teenager for many months with terrible acne and skin problems. Unable to deal with the stress of her family life and school, exacerbated by the hormones, the girl had become extremely anorexia. Ruth worked with her to understand that healthy skin came from within not just from without, and that proper diet would make her look more beautiful than any cream she could put on her face. “She told me this morning she had gained weight and was actually proud of it!” she practically yelled into the phone. As she spoke, I could see her standing next to her desk, formal in her white clinic jacket, but dancing around, her eyes sparkling and her hands waving in the air. When she calmed down, I told her that this was her passion. Stunned, she thought about it and proclaimed that indeed it was.

“All my life I thought I was ugly. I felt that nobody loved me. When I work with these girls, I tell them over and over again that I love them and that they are beautiful, using my words and my work, until they begin to believe it themselves. You are right! This is my passion! I have been living my passion my whole life!” While her work is not limited to teenagers, this is indeed where her heart lies, healing the teenager inside of her while she heals the teenagers around her.

Ruth’s passion in life is to make people feel beautiful, inside and out, through skin care. Her purpose is to overcome the ugly duckling inside of herself and stop others from being ugly.

Ruth could have picked numerous jobs such as fashion consultant, makeup artist, clothing designer, seamstress, art director, interior designer, all kinds of jobs which make people feel good by having good surroundings, clothing, and other exterior accouterments. But she chose cosmetology. This is her passion, the activity that gives her pleasure and satisfaction and serves her purpose in life. A purpose in life is like a mission statement, a form of job description, and passion is the motivator.

The Purpose Mission Statement

The definition of a mission statement in business is that it is a clearly defined statement of purpose and goals. In the article on networking, 10 Words or Less, I discuss how to describe what you to for others in the clearest and most concise way. You can use this same process to clarify and explain your purpose statement.

In brief, it must describe what you do, why you do it, and the benefit of doing it. Remember, the why and the benefit are part of your passion statement, but the “what” is the purpose. Give it a try.

Play detective with your life and look around at the things you do, your activities, hobbies, interests, job, and recreation time. Also pay attention to your “wish I was” thoughts. How many times in a day do you think “I wish I was doing…instead of this” or “I wish I was [bigger, thinner, smaller, healthier, happier, richer...]“. If you are spending more time thinking about something else and not thinking about what you are doing, odds are there are some clues there in the thinking.

Remember, you are probably already living your purpose, you just need to fine tune it and recognize the passion that is the driving force in your life’s purpose.

It’s no good running a pig farm
badly for thirty years while saying,
‘Really I was meant to be a ballet dancer.’
By that time, pigs will be your style.
Quentin Crisp

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