We need to stop asking what our purpose is in life. We’re all wandering around searching for our purpose on this weird globe floating in space. It’s very easy for us to get so hell bent on finding that purpose that we miss the whole point of living.
One of my favorite books is Start with Why by Simon Sinek. The book was written based off a popularized Ted Talk he gave around this idea of how great leaders inspire action in this world. If you haven’t checked it out, I recommend taking some time to do so. Simon makes a lot of great points about getting clear on your why and starting from there. Here’s where it gets a little tricky though. People have taken this notion of finding their why and mangled it up into thinking a job will fit it perfectly for their entire life. And they’ve now gone running around seeking that perfect fit that they’ve missed this point: our why can morph and evolve over time with the seasons of life we are in.
When we are in this constant search for purpose, we often miss the beauty of the chapter we are currently in. Constantly living into the future and missing the present.
How can we then find our purpose in this universe while also enjoying where we are at?
By understanding the difference between curiosity, passion, and purpose. We struggle to differentiate the emotions associated with each of these because they’re all flow triggers that are releasing some serious feel good hormones into our blood stream.
Let’s break it down:
Curiosity- defined as a strong desire to know or learn something. This is often the kindling to our fire, the thing that gets us started. It’s why athletes typically start in a setting like Summer League Swimming. One of the things MCSL, the league I first started in, does so well is they made it FUN! Themed meets, pep rally’s, weekly trips to the movies, what 8 year old wouldn’t be curious about what’s going on at their local summer pool?
Curiosity is our foot in the door, the first step down this journey to finding a deeper meaning. We need curiosity because it builds the foundation of what is to come. The beauty is curiosity can constantly evolve. I had a strong desire to learn all I could about Dinosaurs growing up, so much so my parents would drive me and my buddy Marcos who shared the same curiosity around these ancient beasts all the way out to Dinosaur Land in White Post, Virginia. If you’ve never been, I’m sorry you didn’t have a childhood, but that place was every Dino lovers dream. We’re talking life sized velociraptors and Tyrannosaurus. Like I said, curiosity is great kindly to our inner fire and flow, but it doesn’t always last. 20 years later, I get some nostalgia thinking of the Dino days, but I’m not lit up to go and learn about them as I once was.
Curiosity is great at getting us into bouts of micro flow throughout the day as well. It’s that feeling when you listen to an educational podcast on a topic you’re deeply interested in or when you pick up a new activity that excites you such as playing the guitar.
Look at the various curiosities in your life and notice how they’ve shifted over the years. Curiosities often come and go, that’s part of our human experience. We should always pursue areas we are curious about because they do lay the foundation of answering that question of “What is my WHY?”.
Plus you never know what curiosities will stick and burning into passion.
Passion- defined as strong and barely controllable emotion. This is the next step up to curiosity, we have our fire started thanks to our curiosity, and now it’s really catching some traction. Notice that it’s barely controllable, not uncontrollable. When we hear the word passion, I’m sure an image comes to mind of someone in our life that is extremely passionate about what they do. It could be about the environment, their politics, social issues, etc. Notice how to have passion towards something, we must have first been curious towards it.
It was because I was curious about MCSL summer league swimming that I then felt compelled to join a year round swim program in RMSC. From that decision, passion towards the overall sport of swimming was formed. The water went from just something I was curious about to a much needed sanctuary in my life. It got to the point where I’d long to spend my time in the pool just because it provided an escape from things. Notice the shift that happens when we find something we are passionate about, we often sacrifice responsibilities in other areas of our life to do more of it. It didn’t matter how much homework I had, I was more called to swim than I was to study.
It’s when we are doing something we are passionate about we access a deeper level of flow and the fire gets bigger. You hear in people’s voice when they talk about a subject they’ve dedicated serious time to. You feel it in your own body because your own biochemistry shifts to this place of almost euphoric high, even when you could be doing something physically taxing. That’s what goes on for athletes in flow. I look back at my best performances in the pool and realize even though my muscles were aching as they were being pushed to their limit, I found a 6th gear I didn’t even know existed thanks to the flow state I was in. When we are in this depth of flow, we are able to get out of our own head and push past perceived limits.
Passion can be a strong feeling, almost overwhelming at times, but even it can fade over time if we don’t continue to add fuel and evolve it. Look at once fiery passionate relationships that don’t exist anymore. The passion fades over time if we don’t allow it to grow in other ways.
When we continue to foster our passions, whether it be a romantic relationship or we deepen it to a level that it now becomes purpose.
Purpose- a person’s sense of resolve or determination. When we are in alignment with our purpose, we will stop at noting to see it through. We feel so so so strongly about our task that we are hyper focused on seeing it through.
We were are acting in alignment with our purpose, focus is so depended that time gets warped. Swim seasons would last upwards of 9 months between major competitions, yet it’d feel like a blur to me looking back on it. This was because I became so determined to see it through, it didn’t matter what obstacles were thrown my way.
Purpose is a result of curiosity growing into passion and then adding more curiosity into the mix. It wasn’t until I had reached later high school years that I realized, there was still another level I wanted to take my swimming career. That passion turned into my sole purpose of receiving a division one scholarship for my efforts. Even then, once that became a reality, I got even more curious about what I could do in the sport.
Many of us reach passion and then fail to find purpose because we lose the initial curiosity that got us there in the first place. I realized I needed to always keep the curiosity around my performance no matter how “good” I got if I wanted to improve and still enjoy what I was doing.
Purpose comes from an intersection of all the curiosities and passions we’ve ever had converging into one place. It’s the final depth we can reach of acting in alignment with flow.
The beauty of purpose is that it too is always growing and evolving, adding in a new layer. That is the true secret behind the high performer that seems to always have a 6th gear when the rest of the world is stuck in neutral.
Here is why so many people are struggling where they’re at: at some point they lost their curiosity along their journey.
Even the strongest of fires need new kindling to keep them going ablaze. Make sure you are continuing to explore new curiosities, find how they overlap with your passions, and you’ll end up with an unstoppable purpose.
When you do this right, you become truly limitless, your potential sky rockets, and you find the macro flow of life we are all after.
Curiosity fuels passion which feeds into purpose. Fuel your inner flame and let it get brighter by the day by staying curious.
Flow on friends,