She sat across the table from me, looking deflated as a popped balloon. Her eyes sank into the depths of her untouched cup of coffee; her fingers fiddled with the saucer.
“Deanna,” she said, “I know I’m supposed to be happy. I have a job that pays well and I’ve just been offered a nice promotion, but…” She let the sentence hang in the air for a moment. “I know I could be more satisfied in the work that I am doing.”
I nodded and resisted the urge to dart around the table and wrap her in a hug. I’d heard this story far too often from far too many people.
This individual is just one of many whom I have coached through the troubling question: How can I use my skills, knowledge, passion, and opportunities to create meaningful change and live in my purpose?
I am often approached by people who are struggling to connect their daily work to the larger issues that they care about. These are people who know I have worked for (and founded) numerous nonprofits, spearheaded community outreach programs, and advocated for marginalized communities…all while being a wife, mother, and social entrepreneur. People wonder how I’m able to keep my purpose at the center of my existence WITHOUT giving up things like family and financial stability. They may have a strong desire to follow their life’s calling, but simply don’t know how to get started.
How does one go from passively living moment after moment, to creating a life full of meaning?
What I realized is that my experience does not have to be an anomaly. I have a process, and it can be replicated. In fact, I’ve talked about the process so often, I decided to condense my strategies into a book, Purposeful Hustle, written specifically for individuals who want to make a difference in this world, but don’t know how.
What I discovered is that in order to be an effective change maker, you have to blend intentional thought (purpose) with intentional action (hustle). In Purposeful Hustle, I continuously talk about the importance of naming one’s purpose. You must be able to articulate what you believe your ultimate purpose in life is. This can be accomplished by taking time to reflect on what you are most passionate about and what you are most uniquely positioned to accomplish.
However, it is not enough to know what your purpose is. You also must have the skills to live within that purpose and create intentional action (hustle). I have found that there are four crucial concepts that fuel a Purposeful Hustler.
If you are to create any sort of meaningful impact, you MUST be courageous. Yes, the thought of stepping out of your comfort zone and into your purpose is frightening. I get it. However, with time and practice, you will create reservoirs of courage that you can tap into when you need them most.
Build up your courage reservoirs by performing small courageous acts every day. Stand up for yourself or another. Speak out, even when it’s uncomfortable. Go out of your way to help someone. Regularly acting within your purpose will help fortify you for those times when you need a BIG courage boost.
Change stems from curiosity. Do not let a lack of knowledge or experience inhibit you from taking action. While working in your area of purpose, you will probably wade into some foreign waters. That’s okay!
Take a step back and reflect on what you already know. Make a list of your assets and consider what you might use to further your purpose. Then figure out what you don’t know. How will you close those knowledge or skills gaps? Are you able to take online classes, learn from an expert, or read up on the topic?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You can’t be an expert in everything. Know your limits and figure out who can best help you forward your purpose.
In order to let purpose guide your life, you must be willing to follow it through failure. Failure is inevitable and it will hurt, but once you have spent some time “in your feels,” it is essential to confront your failure.
Purposeful Hustlers do this by taking the time to dissect their failure and embracing it as a temporary setback. Once you have determined what lessons can be gleaned from your failure, it is time to restrategize, while making sure you keep your end goal in sight.
Stop waiting for permission to live an impactful life! Three of the most common excuses for avoiding your passion include not having a well-developed plan, lacking money, or feeling short on time. It is time to dismantle these assumptions.
For one, you’ll never have a perfect plan. The key is to strategize as best you can and then go for it. Be flexible and adapt to the bumps and curves in the road. If you keep rehashing your action plan until it’s perfect, you’ll never act.
Similarly, you don’t have to wait until you have fistfuls of money to start working within your purpose. Much can be accomplished on a slim (or no!) budget. All it takes it some ingenuity, willpower, and enough people who believe in the cause.
And if you’re pressed for time? My answer to you is: Who EVER has enough time? Leap over this hurdle by focusing on bite-sized goals. What can you accomplish in five minutes today? Ten? You may be surprised by what you can do with a focused amount of time. Dedicate yourself to your goals and your purpose each and every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
If you’ve been itching to do more with your life, this is YOUR time. Identify your central purpose, banish your excuses, and strategize about how to take intentional action to further your goals. As a Purposeful Hustler, you will face obstacles, but it’s up to you to tap into your resources, personal resilience, and reservoirs of courage. Remember: your purpose drives your hustle and your hustle gives shape to your purpose.