Remember the difference between your professional mission and your personal purpose.
I read this in an awesome book I finished recently entitled Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Holy long title but very short and solid read for any human wanting to do any of those things. Small biz or big corp, I recommend.
Anyway. To the point:
Many – and I mean like, MANY small biz owners, solopreneurs, and entrepreneurs are constantly talking about or being told to FOCUS ON THE WHY. What is your WHY? And for many of them / us, the response is all about helping clients and customers. Helping them advance their business, helping people Do A Thing better, or improving This Part of people’s lives and businesses. Lots of people feel GREAT passion around their business’s purpose and mission, and the impact that their Thing has.
This is obviously important! Why run a business if you feel pretty meh about it, right? There’s no point in that.
But I’ve always struggled with the fact that I DON’T feel a great and intense passion around building websites. Like yes I do firmly believe every business needs a solid website and I have capital-F Feelings about what makes a good website and what makes a bad web experience.
But are THOSE things the underlying reason why I run my business? Are those Feelings enough to keep me going on days when I have shitty client dealings and seasons of financial difficulty and weeks of what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life moments and days when I have such intense imposter syndrome that I feel the need to move off-grid and disappear completely?
No. For me, the answer is no. I often feel like I would do ANYTHING – any task, that is – any job, any profession (almost) to avoid having to work FOR someone else ever again. I LIKE building websites, so it’s a great fit. But building websites isn’t what gets me up in the morning.
And for a long time I’ve sort of battled with this fact. Like, seeing so many other small biz people around me just throwing parades for their cause like the level of just PASSION people show is really moving, but also made me question some things:
- Am I doing the wrong thing if I too, do not feel that [perceived] level of passion for my profession?
- Is all that passion really REAL? Or is some of it a little embellished for social media / to motivate clients / to appear the way people think they should when it comes to the services or products their selling?
It always made me wonder who was wrong here: me – for not being “into it” enough, or them – for being TOO into it, so into as to edge into disingenuous and inauthentic territory. [Please note this is NOT commentary on the “authentic” convo. Not going there.]
And I never really figured out the answer. I’ve just been plugging away, like this is what I know, this is me, I’m just going to keep doing it the way I know how and perhaps someday I’ll either be inspired to raise my level of passion – specifically, outward-facing passion, OR I’ll discover the THING that I’m “supposed” to be doing for the world and then everything will make sense.
Spoiler alert, neither of those things has happened. I still make websites and I still maintain my Capital-F Feelings around them. I still like helping people in this way. I am getting better at these skills. It’s gratifying. But I am still not feeling that UBER level of all-caps PASSION for it.
And so, reading that statement gave me this lightbulb: I don’t HAVE to want to take a bullet for making websites! I don’t HAVE to want to throw myself into oncoming traffic for the sake of a solid web presence!
I CAN have strong yet even-keeled feelings about my profession, and keep these tasks and feelings RE my PROFESSIONAL MISSION – helping people and businesses by building solid-in-every-way websites – completely separate from my PERSONAL PURPOSE.
And the two don’t have to cross paths. Like maybe you’re a CPA at one of the “big four” firms and you really love the high-energy-ness of it all, but your personal purpose is to help refugees and immigrants. So you volunteer on weekends as an English-as-second-language teacher or tutor. You’re fulfilling both sides of this coin, and sacrificing nothing.
Or they totally CAN cross paths: like maybe your personal purpose is to help refugees and immigrants and your profession is as an English-as-second-language teacher at a non-profit or community college or something. Boom! Your shit is aligned!
The bottom line I’m trying to get at is this: if you, like me, have ever wondered if something was WRONG with the way you do things, this is your permission to let that shit go. It all comes down to being true to yourself, what you need, and what you desire. Which is obviously really easy to write and in practice not so easy to implement. But it certainly was freeing for me to read that statement and realize that WEBSITES don’t have to be included my personal credo for me to feel like a fulfilled human being.
So, let’s be free, eh? Passionate, freaking out, straight-faced, or completely monotoned. YOU DO YOU.