It happened again the other day, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across the post of a female influencer who shared a picture of that “moment” when she knew she found her calling and her higher purpose in life. She was successful in her business, making six or seven figures, and she finally felt at peace with what God wanted from her.
In this particular picture, she was on the beach with her young child, a vacation that she paid for in full, thanks to her success. According to her post, in that moment all the stars were aligned in her life, and she was right where God wanted her to be.
I have no doubt that this particular woman is wonderful at her job.
I’m sure she finds contentment in her business of helping and inspiring women.
It’s easy to assume that her improved financial situation helps make life easier.
I can imagine the joy of spending a week on the beach with family, alone, and at peace.
But there was something about her post that was so unsettling to me… This concept of finding purpose in a career, and only after success.
More and more, I feel as if I see these words often intermixed and used without caution – “passion, purpose, and calling.” Along with that, more often than not, they’re used right along with pursuing a goal, building a business, or finding success.
Here are three ways that I find women can become easily discouraged with this dangerous mindset of passion = purpose and what we can do to address it. Please note that this is my opinion and personal experience after spending five years in this online industry of building a business, pursuing my passion and focusing on personal development.
MYTH 1: BY PURSUING MY PASSION, I WILL FIND MY PURPOSE IN LIFE
I take no issue with any form of business, whether that’s an online business, a brick and mortar startup, or an MLM. I think it’s amazing that more women have the opportunity to stay home with their families while still contributing financially. Admittedly, that’s why I originally pursued photography and my own business. As a former full time nurse, I was working nights, weekends, and holidays, right along with my husband who is also in healthcare. Our lifestyle was overwhelmed with work.
However, it was only after I entered the business and online world, that I discovered personal development and learned more about having a “growth mindset.” I consistently found women who were living out their “purpose” and earning a (BIG) living doing it. I loved my business in the photography industry, but as a multi passionate person, I wasn’t sure if this was where God “called” me to be. Why? Well, because I’m also passionate about functional health and wellness, I still enjoyed being a nurse, I was also passionate about blogging and helping women grow their own business.
For over a year, I struggled with this concept of wondering if I was missing my calling. I believed the lie that if I pursued my passion, I would find my purpose in life. What about women who are multi passionate like me? How far do we go in this pursuit of passion in order to find where God has called us to be? And what if we’re missing what’s right in front of us? What if we have a passion outside of the home, but we can also find purpose in being a great wife and mom?
These are all questions that I started to really struggle with after starting my business and diving head first into the entrepreneurial/self development world.
TRUTH: You can have one or multiple passions, but you do not have ONE purpose. You are complex. You are constantly being molded into who God wants you to be.
MYTH 2: I WILL BE SUCCESSFUL WHEN MY WORK IS ALIGNED WITH MY PURPOSE
Every career in life can and will have growing pains and cause moments of burnout. It happens with nursing, it happens with photography, it happens with blogging, it happens with running a business. Ask me how I know. I’ve done it all, found joy in it all, and also struggled with intense burnout in it all. The burnout was another experience that caused me to believe that I was not living in pursuit of my true purpose. This wouldn’t happen if my work was aligned with where God called me to be, right? My business would be more successful if I was working in my area of purpose.
Or so I thought…
The problem with that mindset is, what happens when we ARE working in an area of our true passion, but we’re not successful? Does that mean we’ve missed our purpose? Does that mean we need to try something new in order to find it? What happens when we find success with our passion, but then lose it? Businesses fail. Lives change. It happens every day. This belief is so harmful to our self-worth and ability to be successful in life.
Success in itself is not a bad thing. I’m happy for women who have found success in life. However, I think women need to stop sharing the harmful message of “I’ve found my calling in life, which has led to my success, and you can do so too.” Success that’s tied to self-worth is damaging to whom we are as individuals.
TRUTH: Your worth is NOT your work. Your worth is found in your character, your relationships, your love of self and others, and your good deeds.
MYTH 3: I HAVE ONE PURPOSE/CALLING AND IF I MISS IT I COULD MESS UP MY LIFE
I saved this myth for last, because in ways I believe that it can cause the most damage.
My greatest fear is chasing something unattainable my entire life, and missing what’s right in front of me, so much more so than missing my purpose. As humans, we are not an object, we do not have one set purpose in life. We are complex beings who are constantly being molded by our experiences and life journey. Purpose is all about perception. What if rather than chasing one specific purpose in life, we lived a life of intention and focused on the value that we provide in whatever it is that we do.
To reference the first two myths again, there is danger in believing that our purpose is tied to our passions and in order to find it, we must focus our energy on what we love most in life. There is danger in believing that we can only find success after we’ve found our purpose. This leads to a harmful cycle of convincing ourselves that we’ve “gotten it wrong in life,” and puts us on a hamster wheel of constantly chasing passion, purpose and success.
What if our so-called “purpose” is simply to work hard, love deeply, care for people, rest well, and add value to the lives of others. That purpose can be carried out in any form. In a job, in a business, in volunteering.
TRUTH: You have purpose just as you are. Your purpose is not defined by any one thing that you (or don’t to) do at any one time in your life.
YOUR VALUE IS NOT DEFINED BY YOUR PURPOSE
You can bring PURPOSE into your work.
You can find PURPOSE in your success.
You can instill PURPOSE into your daily habits, and intentions.
I believe that you can live a life of intention, and that if you’re struggling you can change your story with daily habits, goals, and the power prayer.
But you yourself are not created for one purpose. Your life cannot be summed up into one objective. It does not have a tagline. You were not created for one main goal. And most importantly, you do not find purpose in success, and success is not attainable only after you find your calling in life.