Lately I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis. Nothing major, just one of those “What is my purpose in life?” kind of crises. You have those from time to time, right?
When I was teaching, purpose felt easy. I knew I was helping people by teaching. I was shaping the minds of America’s youth for goodness sakes! I could see the difference I was making, the lightbulbs turning on. I have always felt drawn to teach. Leaving the teaching field was a very difficult decision because I knew I was leaving something that I was good at and something that mattered.
Nevertheless, I knew it was the best decision to make for the time. I knew I wanted and needed to be home for my daughter more than I needed to be in the classroom. And I am so grateful that I’ve found a way to work, be creative, and be home for her. I know that I am still helping people–I’m providing something they need and in a beautiful way. I hope (and I hear) that I’m doing it in a way that makes the invitation process easy and fun. When my customers write and tell me they cried when they opened their invitations, I know I’m doing something good for the world.
But is it enough?
I just feel like there’s so much talk about “finding your purpose,” and running a business with purpose, that maybe I’m not purposeful enough. I mean is my true “purpose in life” really in paper and envelopes? Is providing couples with clever designs and a great experience enough of a purpose? Is raising my daughter the way that I am enough of a purpose? Aren’t I supposed to be doing something more?!
So then a couple weeks ago I stumbled across Jess Lively’s website. At first glance, I was like, “Ok, this is kind of like everything else. Live with intention, be present in the moment, uh huh, I get it.” But something kept drawing me back. And I saw she was hosting a free webinar about how to write an “intention.” Guys–I love free webinars. I just love learning and I love free. Free webinars are made for me. I can’t always devote the time to actually watch them, but this one happened to be on a Tuesday morning and worked with my schedule, so I signed up.
And it was great, I’m intrigued by the idea of “intentions” vs. “goals” and I suggest you read her blog and sign up for her classes if that kind of thing interests you. But what really stuck out to me wasn’t even really part of the class. It was just this simple statement: “Your purpose is to serve others in the present moment.”
I’ll be honest, the first time she said it, I actually blew it off! I hear plenty of people talk or write about serving and there’s something that just feels a little fake about it. Like a little holier-than-thou or a little look-at-me-I’m-being-selfless. I actually said to myself, “Ok yeah, that’s her purpose but not mine.” But one of the participants in the webinar asked a question later and she came back to it. And very bluntly said, “Your purpose is to serve others in the present moment. That’s it. That’s purpose. Your purpose is not your career. If you’re an artist and your hand gets blown off, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a reason for living anymore.” She went on with other examples, and it all started to really sink in. And it didn’t feel fake anymore. It just felt… simple.
Your purpose is to serve others in the present moment.
That’s it. It’s that simple. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. It doesn’t have to include how you’re going to serve others. In fact, she went on to say you can wake up and say “How do I want to serve today?” and that really resonated with me too! Not, “How can I best utilize my talents to make the biggest impact possible in the world.” Just, “How do I want to serve today?”
So I’ve been trying it on for the last week. Because it’s totally like me to be struck by something seemingly amazing and then 2 days later I’m over it. I thought about giving it a few more weeks until I shared, but I can’t. Because I feel like this has changed my whole perspective on why I’m doing what I do, and I think it can help you too, so why hold back?
Randomly throughout the day, instead of asking myself, “What should I be doing?” or “What needs to get done?” or “What would give Olivia the best possible childhood?” or “How can I grow my business?” I’m just going, “Hmmm, how do I want to serve right now?” Do I want to serve my family by making them a delicious meal? Or serve a client by putting her at ease in the middle of her wedding stress? Or serve Olivia (and myself) by playing at the park for an hour?
There is something magically freeing about this. I dare you to try it for a week. I’m finding myself enjoying more moments and feeling more confident in how I’m choosing to spend my time. Just by saying okay, I’m here to serve–we’re ALL here to serve–in some way. And that the way we choose to serve doesn’t really matter. We can change our minds daily or build a career around one way to serve. We can serve our own children or children around the world. Even serving ourselves from time to time helps the greater good! That “purpose” doesn’t have to be some hidden gem we try to uncover with workbooks and workshops, it can just be to simply serve.