We’ve been told all this time to do what we love. That it doesn’t matter if we can’t make any money with it. That it doesn’t matter if society doesn’t get a real benefit from it. That nothing matters but what you want to do. And I both agree and disagree with that.
Should you hate what you do? Absolutely not. You probably won’t have as much motivation to make a stellar career out of something you despise. I believe that you should have an interest in what you do.
However, in my opinion, careers are also meant to make money. You have to be able to pay rent, and you have to be able to eat. If your passion isn’t paying the bills, it might be more of a hobby. I’ve observed that society works on a reward system: you give people a unique skill that benefits them, and they’ll give you money in return. This is an important idea to keep in mind when we start talking about purpose.
So, what have we got so far? Society needs solutions. Sometimes, trying to make a living out of your truest passion isn’t realistic because society doesn’t feel it needs it to advance (I’m not saying society’s always right, because I have lots of short stories that I think contribute to the greater good, but stick with me). We also work on a skill-for-money system.
Let’s cut to the real reason you’re here: how do I figure out my purpose? What am I supposed to be doing? I think there are two very important questions you need to answer: “what problem do you want to solve,” and “what are you really good at?”
When you start shifting the focus from what you like to do to what you want to improve, you also shift from an activity that’s just for you to an action that benefits the world. For example, if you’re passionate about cooking, you might find interest in issues that surround food safety or hunger. If you volunteer at homeless shelters, you could give poverty activism a go. Converting what you love into a bigger, world issue is the first step to finding your purpose. The beautiful part about this is that society needs these problems solved, so there’s a greater chance that you’ll be in a higher demand in your field.
The second is the fun one: finding out what your good at, and making that fit into the problem that you want to solve. It’s like a puzzle, where you’re looking for a perfect fit for your unique skills. Take me, for instance. I like to write, and I want to help develop some of the most impactful pharmaceuticals of our generation. Technical writing, or maybe patent law, seem like pretty good fits to me.
I’ve always heard from people that kids need to do what they’re passionate about, and the money doesn’t matter. But, I don’t like that advice, because if that passion doesn’t make you money, you can’t feed your family. Ultimately, discovering what problems you want to help solve and your strengths that you can use to solve those problems can aid in finding your purpose.