One question our #Almost30Nation fam is constantly asking is, “How do I find my purpose?” First, let’s be grateful to ourselves for asking this question — asking is the beginning of our wisdom and searching for who we are. Still, it’s a daunting question and it can feel overwhelming to confront.
So we asked the absolutely brilliant Jay Shetty, podcast host, author, and former monk. He told us on the podcast that he often turns to the Japanese term “ikigai,” which means reason for being, and Dharma in the Bhagavad Gita when examining purpose. He breaks it down with Dharma, which can mean eternal purpose.
In the episode, Jay shared the formula he uses for finding and living with purpose. Dharma breaks down purpose this way: Passion + Compassion + Expertise = Purpose. Jay found that it’s about figuring out each element and seeing how they all fit.
Here is how each element breaks down:
Finding your purpose can definitely be intimidating. Try starting with identifying your passions. Ask yourself: “What am I passionate about?” And if that doesn’t work for you either, you can start by looking at curiosity and interest. Jay sees it like this:
Curiosity = womb
Interest = child
Passion = teenager
Purpose = adult
If you don’t feel like you can start at passion, instead ask yourself, “What am I curious about or interested in?” Curiosity gives birth to interest; interest grows up to become passion; passion is figuring it all out; and purpose is an adult who has it figured out. Jay reminds us to stop putting pressure on ourselves to find a passion and instead see what fascinates us. That will all evolve into purpose.
Ok, so maybe finding your passion or curiosity didn’t work. That’s totally fine! Jay shared that sometimes people find purpose through pain rather than passion. Compassion can be born through personal pain — for example, health issues can force compassion on yourself and create a whole new journey. Compassion can also be for others. If you’re mad at the injustices in the world or the environment falling apart, this can be a place to start. It can be about, “I don’t like this, and I want to fix it” and go from there.
Expertise is all about bringing the skills you already have to the table — and trust us, you have a lot to bring to the table! Ask yourself, “What skills do I already have? How can I start using them more purposefully?” By doing this, you can then ask yourself how you can use those skills to help someone else and make a difference.
All of these pieces help us find and live our purpose. Using your passion in the service of others as a compassionate act lets it become a purpose. When you use your skills and gifts in the service of others, it elevates your purpose and satisfies you.
While doing what we love is fulfilling, Jay shared that we won’t be fully satisfied until we use it to make a difference in someone else’s life. We’re educated for greed but wired for generosity, and it can be so easy to forget that. Jay reminded us how important it is to act in the service of others, and in turn, this will help us find our purpose.
Check out our full episode with Jay on spirituality, leadership, and finding your purpose here. It’s an EPIC interview and one of our favorite conversations!