Two words you need to add to your purpose statement. RIGHT NOW.
“How do I find my purpose?”
“What is my ‘thing’?”
“What is it that I do, actually?”
“How can I get clear on what it is that I have to offer?”
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t asked myself all of these questions along my solopreneurial journey.
Not only once or twice, but CONSTANTLY.
These are questions my clients ask me…over and over.
Why is it that we’re so consumed with ‘defining our purpose’ as solopreneurs?
Well, for one thing, we are told that in order to build strong brands and market ourselves effectively, we have to have a core message. An ‘elevator pitch’.
When we feel the urge to create offerings and be of service, we feel lost if we don’t have a core aim in mind.
And most of all, it gives us stability. It gives us a sense of validation that we are who we say we are, and a marker for knowing where to channel our oh-so-limited time and energy.
All of these things are true.
Strong brands DO revolve around a strong message.
We CAN market ourselves more effectively, if we know our why.
We DO feel lost without a concise idea of what it is that we do.
And yet, figuring out our ‘purpose’ can feel like the most challenging thing we’ll ever do in the course of our business.
We think we have it nailed…until the next day, when everything we thought we believed seems to crumble beneath our Moleskines.
We spend days – if not weeks – perfecting our purpose statement…only to find we’ve outgrown it quicker than the flash of inspiration it came to us in.
I’m no philosopher, but I have observed one or two things about the art of purpose-defining that I’d like to propose to you.
01 The more you try to pin your purpose down, the less potent it becomes.
I have been known to paraphrase from The Sound of Music before now, and I think that now is an appropriate time as any.
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? And how DO you keep a wave upon the sand?
This is EXACTLY the dilemma we face when it comes to defining our purpose.
Just like the cloud, it evaporates the moment we try to grasp it. And just like the wave, it has receded back into the ocean before we’ve even had a chance to get our hands wet.
You see, the thing about Maria was – they thought she was a problem.
They were so busy trying to figure out how to fix her, and ‘contain’ her, that they couldn’t see her for the miracle that she was.
(Can you see where I’m going with this yet?)
The tighter you try to grasp your purpose statement, the less of a miracle it becomes.
Which leads me beautifully onto my second observation…
02 Your purpose isn’t something you define. It’s something you ARE.
Do you think Mother Teresa was able to reel off her elevator pitch on demand?
Do you think Oprah Winfrey has her purpose statement written out on a post-it note stuck to her refrigerator?
You may or may not realise this, but you ARE your purpose statement.
Let me break that down further.
Your purpose statement is only as strong as your embodiment of who you REALLY are.
Until you have really worked through the mysteries of your soul, you can’t possibly expect to be able to define a purpose statement that actually means something.
When you have worked through the mysteries of your soul, you BECOME your purpose statement. You become a statement of the purpose of your presence here on this planet.
Which leads me beautifully onto my third observation…
03 Your purpose is constantly evolving…as are you.
One of the key principles behind the work I do is that we are not a thing to be branded (ie…to be permanently marked with a branding iron to confirm our everlasting identity) – but an energy that is constantly evolving. Expanding. Learning. Reaching. Stretching.
Our collective purpose here on Earth is to expand. We were not put here to stay still, and we were not put here to diminish ourselves.
God, the Universe, the Higher Power…whatever term you prefer to use, planted you here on this Earth – at this specific time – to evolve. To expand. To become the person you were meant to be.
How can we expect to have a perfectly-defined purpose statement when our ULTIMATE Universe-given purpose is to evolve and expand?
Do we REALLY think that defining a solid purpose statement is beneficial in achieving this aim?
I think not.
At this point, you may be thinking – I get it. I see how defining a purpose statement might not be all it’s cracked up to be. But. I have bills to pay. And I need to get clear on who I am and what I do before I can target my audience and actually start to sell my stuff.
Here’s my proposition for you.
Why not develop a purpose statement…for RIGHT NOW?
One that begins, “My purpose right now is….”
This month. This week. Today.
The truth is – as you’re an evolving human being (and not a huge corporation who is trying to hold together a team of thousands), your purpose WILL change.
It will fluctuate.
One day you’ll have clarity, the next day you won’t.
One day you’ll feel like you actually know what you’re doing, the next day…you won’t (or it will look entirely different).
The more you stress over your lack of clarity – and the more you try to ‘hold your moonbeam’ – the less room you are making for your REAL purpose to shine through.
Focus on what is right in front of you. Develop your brand based on what you know, what you feel, right now. Offer what you’re being called to offer. Listen when inspiration strikes. Follow the trail that has been laid out right before you. All you need to do is take the first step, and have faith that the rest will take care of itself.
Don’t worry about creating the ‘ultimate’ purpose statement. It is an ideal that is unrealistic to achieve. And, even if you do manage to get clear, I would hazard a very strong guess that in six months time, your landscape will look very different.
The growth of your brand and business isn’t going to happen in the future.
It’s happening NOW. Right now.
Trying to define the perfect purpose statement blocks your own expansion from occurring.
I decided – back when I launched The Brand Alchemist at the beginning of 2014 – that I wasn’t going to define my purpose statement too tightly. After struggling to do it so many times before, I wasn’t playing this time.
Now, over a YEAR into my journey, I’m starting to see the patterns. I’m starting to draw the right conclusions. I’m starting to gather enough evidence to be able to have a really good grasp on what my purpose is (which, if you’re wondering, is to help solopreneurs step into their archetypes so that they can become expressions of love).
NOW this feels good to me.
NOW this feels soothing to my soul.
Could I have reached this point if I’d have started out with ‘my purpose is to help solopreneurs brand their businesses?’. Absolutely not. I’d have closed my mind before it had had chance to expand (which incidentally is exactly what I did in my first year of business, and didn’t exactly get me very far).
Listen to your heart, open your mind, and write a purpose statement that feels good to you NOW.
Give yourself space and time to really BECOME your purpose statement. To expand into it.
It isn’t just a collection of words you can cram into a tagline…it’s the highest expression of who you really are, and as such it requires respect, nurturance and devotion.