What’s your purpose?

If you wonder, “What’s my purpose?” and feel like you haven’t figured it out…

I have a suggestion: Focus on your pain.

I know, that sounds dramatic. But you don’t have to hole up in your bedroom with a Costco-sized box of Kleenex, wailing and sobbing for the rest of the weekend. It doesn’t have to be like… that.

You can take a walk with a friend, or your dog (dogs are the best listeners!) and have a relaxed, unhurried conversation about your life. Take a trip down memory lane and try completing the following phrases:

1. One experience that really broke my heart was…

2. One of the most difficult chapters in my entire life was…

3. One thing that seriously annoys me is…

4. One thing that keeps me awake at night is…

5. My heart breaks whenever I see someone struggling with…

Talk it out. See what comes up. Whatever situations or experiences have brought you the most pain… most likely? It’s all directly connected with your purpose.

For example, I know what it feels like to have a career that sucks every last drop out of you. I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to put on a gray pantsuit, march into corporate boardrooms, and pretend to be someone you’re not. And I know what it feels like to come home and sob to your partner about how much you hate your work, and how you wish you could start your entire life over.

I get it. I’ve felt that kind of pain, and today—as a business strategist—I help people create businesses that feel pleasurable, fun, and full of personality and joy. Because I don’t want anyone to feel the pain that I used to feel. I’m determined to help people get away from business-hell! Helping people do that is part of my purpose.

Another example: I got into screenwriting because it broke my heart to watch my actor friends lose roles because of their appearance, age, gender, or race. It made me sooo angry. Why do 30, 40, and 50-year-old women always get relegated to stereotypical roles like “soccer mom” or “nurse” or “nameless serial killer murder victim #5”? Why can’t we have a female Walter White or a female Tony Soprano—strong female protagonists with complex motivations and meaty storylines?

There are so few of these roles in Hollywood. This has always bothered me. That’s why a few years ago, I decided, “I’m going to write those roles.”

That’s a big part of the reason why I decided to become a screenwriter, move to LA, and pursue my dream seriously. Changing the film/TV landscape has become part of my purpose, too. (‘Cause who says you need to have just *one* purpose in life? 🙂

If you’re struggling to figure out what your purpose is, I urge you to focus on your pain.

Look closely at the challenges you’ve survived, the crap you’ve cleared out of your life, the difficult lessons you’ve learned.

Study your headaches, your heartbreaks, and all of your bruises and scars.

That’s where you’ll find the answers you’re seeking.

Your purpose might wind up being simple and obvious… and right in front of your eyes.