Inspiration often leads you to take a chance at doing something great. In Lidemta’s, our Project Manager’s case it led to a career change. This is her take on what inspires her.
Connecting the Dots: Finding My Life Purpose Lessons from Steve Jobs
“What on earth am I here for?”
This is a question I struggled with for a long time in my life. I read books, attended seminars, and listened to audio and videotapes on the topic, all in an attempt to find an answer.
During my quest, I came across the concept of ‘Life Purpose’. Everyone talked about how important it is to find one’s purpose and live it out, but no one really gave me a concrete ‘roadmap’ or the ‘HOW’ to find a purpose that was specifically mine. All suggestions offered sounded general and like speculation to me like I was supposed to try and if I’m lucky enough, I would get it right.
My challenge was, I wanted guarantees in life before I could fully commit to something. This need to know was enhanced when I listened to speakers or read books on the law of attraction which said I needed to have a desired end result in mind to “attract”.
I was afraid to commit and invest myself into something and find out down the road, that it wasn’t what I was meant to be doing – my purpose. So I got stuck.
This was the case until I had a light bulb moment when I watched a remarkable speech given by Steve Jobs during Stanford’s commencement address in 2005. It got me unstuck and changed my life forever. To a large extent, many of my questions on life purpose were answered in that brief speech. You can listen to it here.
Here are some highlights of what stood out for me and how they’ve influenced my life:
Have faith and follow your gut
In life, I hardly took chances without seeing an assured end in mind. I wanted to be sure that whatever I ventured in would be successful, and would be in line with my purpose (which I didn’t know).
As a result, I wasted a lot of time being undecided. To this, Steve had the following to say, which forced me to completely change my approach and start moving.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever; because believing that the dots will connect down the road, will give you the courage to follow your heart even if it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.” Steve Jobs
I was also held back by the fear that other people might not approve of the path I chose to follow. That I would fail to meet society’s expectations of me. To this, Steve had the following to say, which was greatly liberating.
“Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is the result of living with other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice and most importantly have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs
This advice gave me the courage to change from a career I studied at school, an agronomist, to something I am more passionate about – Marketing…and I’m glad I did.
You have to find what you love
Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It’s great advice, but it’s not always that simple.
It’s easy to get trapped in a job that only allows you to pay bills, especially when you are starting out and money is scarce.
Since our work fills a large part of our lives, it’s absolutely necessary that we find what we love. And I believed Steve when he said that we’ll know when we find it. The only thing that will keep us moving when the going gets tough is the love of what we do.
“The only way to be truly satisfied is to do great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what we do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it” Steve Jobs
One of the best decisions I made while in University, was to spend my long holidays/school breaks doing internships.
After I graduated from high school, I admired the idea of working in an office every day. I thought the ‘working class’ white-collar workers had it all. And my wish was soon granted when I got 4 months internship where I was working in an office every day as a supporting admin staff. It was great, but it soon began to dawn on me, that I wouldn’t like to do that work for the rest of my life. I realized how quickly I got bored with routine and the importance of having a work-life balance.
Then I thought, I really wanted to save the environment from the effects of global warming; and wildlife from the negative effects of human use. So I interned with a conservation organization.
I loved the travels and adventure of spending time in the wild, contributing to research work and working with a great team.
However, deep down I slowly began to realize that was not ‘it’ for me. It wasn’t what I was looking for.
I started thinking that maybe it would be more beneficial to spend all the efforts and resources we were using to help people by doing things like feeding the hungry. So I joined and worked for an agricultural organization, in an attempt to feed the hungry. This involved going to the farms and teaching people how to take advantage of modern tech to enhance food production, especially in areas where there was no/unreliable rainfall.
It wasn’t long before I realized that the chemistry between me and the soil was lacking. I liked the concept of what I was doing, but I didn’t enjoy the process of implementing it.
After kissing all the frogs :), I found what I love almost by accident.
One day, a friend called and said: ‘Hey, there’s an opportunity to do some work, involving marketing, do you want it?’ I said yes. To me, it was a chance to create some extra income…and I would do it as a side hustle. It involved taking some courses first and doing some write-ups, which I did, and then began working.
I don’t remember exactly when I fell in love with being a modern-day marketer, but I remember I found the courses fascinating. I was impressed by how simple and logical the ideas were and the magnitude of the impact they had on businesses.
I love the design which spurs my inner artist, the research, connecting the dots and being able to see the big picture through real-time analytics, the diversity and waking up to something new every day, and I love seeing the inside of many businesses in diverse industries.
Your time is limited
In dramatic imagery, Steve points out that soon our time on earth will be over. As we work towards our purpose, it’s important to focus on what is truly important. Keep aside fear of embarrassment, failure, and pride. I found this an effective way to remind me to avoid the trap of thinking that I have something to lose.
“Right now, the new is you. But someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Steve Jobs
This helped me to learn to prioritize and develop a habit of planning/scheduling my month, week, and day. I also realized the importance of setting priorities to spend time with family. For example, this year, I’m intentionally going the extra mile to do something special for every family member on their birthdays.
Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish
This was Steve Job’s farewell message in the speech. To me, this is a reminder to always be coachable and eager to learn and sharpen my skills. I believe this will give me a huge advantage and accelerate my growth as I live out my purpose in life.
Following this advice, I set out to be reading two books a month. Some months I’ve done well and some others I haven’t been so consistent, but I’m 80% on track. Searching for knowledge has now become a habit. I do this by reading or listening to audio/visual content, attending webinars and conferences among other ways on topics that I’m interested in.
Have you struggled with the question of finding your life purpose? Have you found it yet? How did you go about it? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.