Have You Started Seeking Your Purpose? Now is the time.
On the day I am writing this blog, I bought my only daughter’s senior prom dress. I fared pretty well I think. She found her dress on the second day of shopping (online doesn’t count) at the third store and only after trying on about 17 dresses. She thought she wanted a red ballroom-style dress. She ended up in a straight empire-style dress in black (yes, a color she wears almost everyday). And the price? Did I mention she’s my only daughter? Anyway, I talked to one dad who said his daughter has been shopping for a dress for 3 months! Now that’s persistence!
Let me backup a bit. When we left the second store, I saw the common look of disappointment on my daughter’s face. Ok, what was going on? We’ve only been at this for 4 hours. She expressed to me her fear of leaving the store without a dress because she might not find anything else. What if she needed to come back and some of the dresses she kind of liked would be gone. My advice to her: if you don’t love it, don’t get it. You’ll know when you find “your dress”. When she tried on the black dress, her face lit up with a smile before she walked out of the dressing room that stayed on while she modeled it for us, confirming her love of the dress.
Are you thinking, I’m not going to prom and what does this have to do with my purpose, Leah?!
From my experience, many of us feel about work the way my daughter felt during this shopping experience. We’re ready to settle, we’re discontent, we don’t want to get too far into this exploring because we might have to go back to square one. I often find we settle in a job for three reasons. One, to get our foot in the door of a great employer; two, to get the bills paid; or three, because we’re afraid we won’t find anything else. I’ve taken jobs for all three reasons. I “got my foot in the door” with the government. Then incurred debt and had to keep working in a field in which I wasn’t particularly happy just to pay the bills. At some point, I also told myself to, “just be grateful because this is the best it’s going to get.” So, if you’ve had any or all of these actions or thoughts, I feel you on all levels. But I have good news and it’s similar to what I told my daughter, Cheer up girlfriend! Your job - Your career - Your ministry - Your purpose is out there. When you find it, the weight will be lifted and you’ll hold a smile and joy in your heart, even on the tough days. You’ll know you’re doing exactly what you should be doing and it will feel so amazingly right.
Praise God, I always had a nudge there was something MORE out there for me. Some people never feel that nudge. Some people believe that work is supposed to be hard, boring, and just not fun. I’ve had great hard-working role models in my life. Everyone works. Everyone is responsible. But how many talked about or actually pursued their dreams or purpose? Not any I can remember. What’s even more wild in my case? I found my perfect-fit job is to help others find their perfect-fit purpose.
When we got to the final dress shop, there were quite possibly 3,000 dresses at the store (maybe more, I’m bad at estimating). My daughter narrowed her options by going rack by rack looking at just 3-4 colors and styles she would even consider. She ended up with 5 dresses to try on. That’s a lot like purpose and career exploration. Your options are innumerable but you already know your general likes and dislikes. Assessments and coaching help you narrow what you’ll actually see what works. The dress consultants helped each shopper explore options and build confidence in a supportive, patient atmosphere. They asked questions about what the girls were looking for and used their knowledge of the inventory and their expertise to help the frenzied girls narrow down, narrow down, narrow down. As a coach, I let my clients know they can take their time, it will all come together. It’s okay to feel discontent, because that means they haven’t found their thing. But you don’t want to stay discontented, right?! You must keep exploring, getting input, asking questions, refining, assessing, and learning.
For several years I woke up everyday asking God to just help me get up and get through the day, because I hated the work I was doing. The whole time I was ashamed because I wasn’t being grateful. One day, I finally prayed probably my most heartfelt, faithful prayer ever. I just told God I was ready to do whatever work he had for me, even if it meant a loss in pay. Yes, I was terrified. No, I didn’t know what I would do if I did lose half my pay pursuing some unknown dream job. So I started on my journey by laying down my expectations, past disappointments, and ideas of work. It took about 90 days to find that which I had been searching for years. A lot like our shopping experience, I came away with something that didn’t look anything like what I thought I wanted - and I love it, it is perfect.
Finding your purpose is not a race, you might find it within the first week of searching or it might take a year. With guidance and strategy it likely will take somewhere between 60-90 days. And just like finding the right dress, finding your purpose is really just the beginning. It’s an exciting event that sets in place what’s needed for all the other details to fall in place. When the opportunity arises, you’ll know and be amazed and be ready all at the same time. Find a supportive community where you are allowed to feel discontent and disappointment, explore, get advice, ask questions, refine your vision, assess, and learn ( and not necessarily in that order). My prayer for you is to find your purpose because no matter where you come from, what you look like, or how stuck you feel, you have abilities and knowledge that are absolutely needed in this world. You might use your purpose in your job, your volunteer work, or your role in your family but you have to find it to apply it.
I hope the dad I chatted with and his daughter found “the dress” but if not, I am confident “her dress” is out there. She’s not settling and neither should you.
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