“What sets your soul on fire?”
This is one of my favorite questions to ask people, especially when it’s met with sparkling eyes, a wide smile, and a passionate response. There’s nothing I enjoy more than listening to someone rave about the very things that get them out of bed. Music, art, poetry, hiking, surfing, rugby, dancing, interior design, spirituality, neuroscience — whatever it might be, if it makes you happy, it deserves your attention.
Our passions fuel our souls, and our souls fuel our purpose. But finding your passion and your purpose in this world isn’t always as easy as being born with an innate talent or clear vision of what you want to be when you grow up.
There have been times where the above question was met with responses like, “That’s a heavy prompt” and “Honestly, I’m still trying to figure that out.” And that’s okay. In some seasons, our purpose is just to exist, and that’s enough.
But I truly believe, if we really let ourselves dabble in our little joys without worrying about judgement or make time for the things that spark excitement, we’d all be much more fulfilled. In a world full of digital distractions, societal pressures, and financial burdens, here’s how to find — and fuel — your purpose.
Ask yourself the right questions
If you’re searching for your purpose, here are some questions to ask yourself:
What would I do if I had all the time in the world?
If you didn’t have to work over eight-hour days, keep up with your workout routine, cook healthy meals, clean your space, stay in touch with loved ones, get enough sleep, etc. — how would you spend your time?
Maybe you’re thinking, “I’d relax a lot more,” which is valid in today’s always-on working world, fit with hefty bills and overwhelming responsibilities. But let’s pretend, for a moment, that none of that existed. Imagine an ideal world where you could spend your time however you wanted to.
Other than catching up on your Netflix shows and seeing your friends more, what would you do? How would you pass your time?
What would I do if money weren’t an issue?
As mentioned above, money is often a barrier to our personal goals and passions. We spend most days at work just to simply stay afloat financially, just to come home to sleep and do it all over again tomorrow. This deters many of us from pursuing careers that would actually bring us joy, because happiness doesn’t pay the bills, does it?
But what if you didn’t have to worry about rent or student loans or credit card debt? What if you hit the lottery tomorrow and never had to work a day in your life again? What, then, would you pursue?
What would I do if I didn’t fear judgment or being seen?
I used to be my own worst enemy, and so I’d project my own judgments and assume everyone else saw me the way I saw myself. This held me back a lot in the past. If I hadn’t given up on trying to please everyone, trying to be every person’s cup of tea, I never would have published my first book, shared poetry on social media, dabbled in spoken word, or even started this blog.
But when I released my fear of judgment, my fear of being seen exactly as I am, I started reaching goals I once thought were just dreams and connecting with people I once assumed wouldn’t even “approve” of me (and got over those who still don’t).
So, let go of what others think and be fully honest with yourself: What sets your soul on fire?
Turning your passions into your purpose
Think of your passions as fuel for your soul. Sure, you might need the food you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe; but what do you want?
Without passion, without purpose, without going after what you want instead of only giving yourself what you need, you’re not living — you’re just surviving.
It really doesn’t take much. You don’t need to quit your day job to pursue some risky career or spend thousands of dollars on equipment for that sport you’ve been wanting to take up. For instance, if you like singing, you can go to an open mic event near you after work once a month; if you enjoy being outdoors, make it a Sunday routine to go hiking; if you love soccer, join a club team that isn’t overwhelmingly demanding, or even just kick the soccer ball around with a friend on the weekends.
And talk about it. Talk about what brings you joy. Share that excitement with other people. Find out what makes your loved ones happy, and show interest in their things, as well. Believe it or not, our purpose comes from those very interactions — from spreading the happiness that’s felt when we’re in that flow state of living, coasting on a high that can only be felt when you’re doing what you’re meant to do.
The rest will follow. You’ll find more hours in the day, meet more people in your life, become more fulfilled and ready to get out of bed each morning. Work won’t seem as dreadful, and your energy will skyrocket. You’ll spread positivity and hope, will be overall more pleasant to spend time with, and feel more accomplished in your day-to-day life. You’ll be more in touch with yourself, which will help you be in touch with others, too.
Your purpose doesn’t have to change the world; it just has to change your world.