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I recently had a revelation that our purpose in life is to create.
At a basic, biological level we are driven to create life – i.e. children. But even as we evolve and it gets more complicated, that drive to create something is much stronger than many people give credit.
For those of you who do spend time creating – be it paintings, or technology architecture solutions, or coaching – when do you feel most fulfilled? When do you most feel like you are contributing to life? For me it is when I put a magnificent idea into action, or when I step back and look at a lovely drawing I created. Those creative products make me feel like my unique being contributed something to life in a big picture way. Art, process changes, powerful words, new life, new products – these creative outputs live on without their creator and are the summary of someone’s purpose.
There is a certain satisfaction in getting a job done. There is a measure of happiness that comes with enjoying a vacation. There is certainly a feeling of gratification after a great conversation, or movie. And winning an important sports match will have you laughing and celebrating for hours. But making something that will exist independently of you and is unique to your personality truly connects to your purpose – and you can feel it.
As someone who worked in computers in the corporate world for years – I can recall the times that I felt like I was using my gifts to create something (and that was the minority of the time). Those times did indeed fuel my fire for long periods of time.
Now that I own my business and have ‘come out’ as an artist – I spend much more time being creative, and I can feel it. I actually feel the urge to exercise that muscle now if I have been doing straight forward activities for too long.
I have 3 kids – so it is easy for me to say that my main purpose in this lifetime is be a great parent. But this creative purpose is much harder to put words on – but it is so important. You don’t need to be able to draw to be creative – you just need to be open to the massive array of thoughts that bubble up in your brain. And honour them!
Maybe you feel an urge to write poetry once in a while? Take a secret notebook and write. As you become more comfortable in your words, you may share it one day. If you are lucky enough to encounter people who resonate with your words, you will feel a joy almost as lovely as becoming a parent. Do you always have ideas on how to do something better – at work or in the world? Pick one idea per year to put out there. Investigate it, see what it would take to implement, look for partners. Imagine the feeling of accomplishment that would come with a successful implementation.
I will go a step further – it is this power of creativity that is the apex of evolution and has made humans the dominant species. Using a round rock as a wheel or using fire to cook food wasn’t learned or instinct – it was creativity. As long we stay with what we already know everyday, all day, we stop evolving. And as soon as we push our own envelope, even a little bit, we start to feel our place in this life. The more you explore your creative skills, the more energy you put towards it, the more you evolve personally, and become more connected to yourself and the planet.
There is one caveat to all this. Creative thinking is only step one. As a creative infant – it will be a wonderful masterpiece, but once you have mastered thinking, it is no longer really being creative and it won’t bring you much joy. You need put it into some kind of action, some kind of commitment, you need to get it out there. Any career graphic artist will tell you that designing within the same box over and over again stops feeling creative – even if they still produce amazing work. Your creative muscle is strongest on the edge of your comfort zone.
Go ahead – learn the meaning of life. It is within you.
Encouragement and positive feedback are very powerful. I didn’t realize the truth in this until recently.
I dabbled with the idea of quitting my corporate job of 9 years for a couple of years, and really considered it for 8 months. But it wasn’t until I hired someone that said “you can do it” that I believed I could do it.
I find that when you share and idea, opinion, dream – whatever, just something different. Most people will: play devil’s advocate (which sounds an awful lot like disagreement), be interested and politely converse or reply with something related from their mind. Not often do you hear “Great idea! Have you thought about what you need to do make it happen?” You know, really dig in and convey enthusiasm about your strengths, direction, goals.
As a parent I grapple with this. I find myself nagging more often than not. And when I do feel like I am engaged in their thoughts I don’t get the instant ‘thanks mom’ verification I expected. Regardless, I am making a concerted effort to notice the ideas and dreams and make sure I don’t instantly respond with something thoughtless.
At some point, most people reach a level of confidence that they don’t need or even appreciate encouragement. But I think every time you look outside your comfort zone there is a gap – bigger in some people than others – that needs a bridge to get to the other side.