Working & Living On Purpose.

by Alice Thompson

Finding yourself is hard. In a world that wants you to find the "right" way of doing business, it's difficult to drown out the distractions and busyness for long enough to connect with you. To discover a purpose you can bring to the planet and feel good about at work and at home without second-guessing yourself and measuring yourself against what other people are doing. Stay in your lane. Their path is not yours. Comparison IS the thief of joy. Find stillness in your life so that you can check in with yourself and get to know that part of you that knows exactly what to do. Breathe deep, for long enough that the world stops feeling like an intimidating place. I'm constantly relearning this, swinging on the relentless pendulum of proactive-successful-Alice right back to clueless-confused-Alice. But with every time the pendulum swings back in the other direction I learn more. Resisting this natural process is where we get tied up in knots.

For this moment, let's embrace our lives moving back and forth like the tide. It's natural, it's pure and it's real - instead of trying to be the finished product with all of the answers already. The truth is that I'm always trying to figure out the "right" way forward and I never really know! And the more I speak to other professionals the more I learn that most people feel like they're making it up as they go and waiting for someone to poke holes in their approach.

I think the trick is to play and not take ourselves too seriously. Having a stab at something because you have an inkling that that direction could be a direction worth going in, and seeing what unravels from there. And then rinse, lather, repeat. I look back over the successes in my career: running national events; opening cafes; designing menus; hiring people who were homeless; hosting celebrities; housing people; managing people; fundraising millions of pounds. It all looks so impressive from the outside, but the truth is that the best stuff in there is the stuff we made up along the way and not the advice we took from people we thought knew how to do it. Don't get me wrong, surrounding yourself with good people who can help guide you and give sound advice is certainly wise. But ultimately it's you who has to walk your path, no one else has to be in your body every day. So it matters what you think, what you feel about your work and your life. So we have to stop trying to please others and first please ourselves, which ironically will please others because we will be the best version of ourselves to be around!

But we so rarely serve ourselves first. We so rarely take the time to check in with ourselves and investigate how we actually feel and what we really want so that we can actively move towards that life. Instead, all too often we are slaves to our default settings. After all, 95% of our brain is unconscious. Add on top of that that our brains will always take the most energy-efficient route and no wonder our emotional reactions and default habits are running the show! We are human. We shouldn't beat ourselves up for it. But the fact we are human also means that we can grab ahold of the steering wheel any time we choose to, and live on purpose.

I'm not someone who believes we all have one purpose on this planet. I believe there are all sorts of purposes out there that we can pick from and I believe some are better suited to us than others based on our life experiences and our natural predispositions. I believe the world around us will be a better place if more people are in line with themselves this way. Deciphering people's mindscapes with them, helping them find themselves underneath all of the noise - that is my joy and that is my sense of freedom. What will yours be?

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