Discovering Your Passion & Purpose with Jonathan Fields
"Your passion can be expressed in thousands of different ways throughout your life."
Some of the most common questions in the Kwik Brain community are: how do I find my passion? How do I find my purpose? Some of you might be feeling discouraged by not having found your passion or not knowing what your ‘why’ is in the world, or you might be confused about what having a passion means after seeing the term overused in the media. If this is you, today’s podcast will help!
What does having a passion and a purpose mean? Can we have more than one passion? What can we do if we have no idea what our passion is?
The best-selling author of How to Live a Good Life and host of the wildly popular Good Life Project podcast, today’s guest Jonathan Fields has built his career on helping others to think differently about the definition of a good life. He’s here to tell us how we can work out our purpose, find more meaning in our days and live a deeper, happier life.
In this conversation, we delve into the definitions of passion and purpose, and why you shouldn’t be afraid to have multiple passions in your life. We’ll give you some ideas for ways to find your purpose, and explain how you can pursue a path that will bring you a life filled with meaning rather than empty success. We’ll explain why having a sense of purpose can decrease your risk of disease, and give you a practical exercise you can do to help you on your way to working out what you deeper driver and purpose might be.
DEFINITIONS OF PASSION AND PURPOSE
- ‘Passion’ and ‘purpose’ are terms often used interchangeably, leading to confusion
- When people think about passion, they think about a thing that leaves them breathless, something they can’t do when they wake up every day
- Do most of us have some sort of sustained through a line of purpose that follows them for the majority of their lives? Have come to believe that most of do have this
- Jonathan’s definition of purpose: drive to do something that at the end of the day fills you with meaning
- Definition of passion: granular external expression of purpose
- Confusion between the two terms comes from people asking ‘what is your passion?’ as if it’s one thing, but actually there is a core deeper imprint driving a lot of the work and the way you contribute to the world, but that can be expressed in thousands of different ways over the course of your life, so you can have thousands of different passions
- Very often these passions all relate to being expressions of this deeper driver within you
- You could be painting, building spreadsheets or launching companies and be deeply passionate about each one of these activities
- Ask yourself: what is the universal deeper driver, the deeper meaning underneath doing all of these things (passions)?
- Remember: we can have multiple passions. People can feel like there’s something wrong with them because they haven’t found that one thing they’re passionate about, but it’s okay to have many intense interests
- Your passions may evolve many times over the course of your life with your interests, skill sets, location and experiences—you’re not going to express the same thing in the same medium in the same place exactly the same way for your entire life
- In fact, if you define yourself by one time-limited, very specific expression and circumstances change in your life that doesn’t allow you to do that anymore, you could find yourself lost
- Rather than saying: this activity was one way that I let this deeper drive out, has come to an end, but because I know my deeper driver of purpose, the thing that gives me a deeper sense of meaning that’s more universal, I can look out at the world and see any number of ways to channel that into a new passion
HOW YOU CAN FIND YOUR PASSION & PURPOSE
- Important to run experiments constantly: call it play, or doing new things in domains that you have no idea if you have any interest in at all
- There tends to be an intense focus (especially in the US) on getting really good at just one thing—we conflate accomplishment with purpose, but they are not the same thing
- You can be extraordinary at one thing—which is the modern definition of success—and become incredibly accomplished at it, and you will be considered successful
- But, Jonathan knows so many people who have become incredibly accomplished at doing certain things (even people who have built companies) that don’t want to do their work anymore, who do things that give them no true enduring sense of meaning and purpose
- We tend to automatically assume that the pursuit of accomplishment and checking things off the list will make us feel this amazing thing—a deep sense of purpose, meaning and passion, but this is not true
- If instead, you pursue the path of accomplishment starting from something where its shown itself to as being an expression of a deeper driver, a thing that intrinsically lights you up, that’s what we all can aspire to
- If you pursue accomplishment aligned with this type of deeper driver, that is an important part of the way you contribute to the world, the way you fill yourself up and is a big part of a life well lived
- Deeper driver: Jonathan’s Sparketype
- If you ask the average person what are you here to do? What is your purpose? You’ll usually get a very superficial answer that is very often actually a passion: a time-limited expression of a deeper driver
- If you keep asking: what’s driving that? Eventually, you’ll get down to a much deeper imprint
- Sparketype: your inner DNA for purpose expression and flow—the source code level answer to the thing that allows you to do something that gives you a sense of purpose, which leads to the feeling of meaning, to feel like you’re fully expressed in the world
- This allows you to more readily access a state of flow: where time seems to fugue, you become absorbed in the thing and become hyperproductive, efficient and creative
DO THE WORK
- Remember: effort and work can be fulfilling
- We seem to think that we don’t like work—we love work, we just don’t like work that empties us
- The effort is not the problem, alignment is the problem
- Meaning is the difference—some people bring joy to their work because they find meaning in it and it allows to express that deeper purpose
BENEFITS OF FINDING YOUR PURPOSE
- In research, it is the purpose in life: a sense of meaning in life
- Neurologically and physiological benefits to having a purpose in life
- In older populations, the risk of dementia and cognitive decline drops significantly
- For anyone in the middle years where cognitive decline is normal: having a sense of purpose is neuroprotective and helps to stop the decline that comes with age
- At a broader physiological level: a strong correlation between having a sense of purpose in life and reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and reduction in inflammation in the body
- The strong connection between inflammation and disease risk
- The purpose in life also affects the state of mind and lowers the risk for depression—research suggests it is more protective in younger years where now there tends to be a large amount of anxiety and stress
- Overall: purpose in life has a strong connection to your performance metrics, your health and your risk of disease, it’s all tied together
- You can endure so much more when you have a clear understanding of why you’re doing something when you derive a sense of meaning from it, and even it’s hard and stressful along the way, you’re doing it because it’s the thing you can’t do
ADVICE FOR ANYONE WHO IS DISCOURAGED
- For anyone who is disenchanted and discouraged, feeling less than because it seems like the people on social media are living their purpose
- Contrary to what you see on social media—research shows the vast majority of people aren’t living perfect shiny happy lives, haven’t figured it out, this is largely fiction
- Know that you’re not alone, most people haven’t figured it out
- Nobody has taught us how to figure this out
- Key is to keep running experiments out in the world
- Not a matter of doing something to succeed, but is a matter of doing something to see if yes, this gives me energy or no, this empties me, so you can start to figure out what the thing is you want to wake up in the morning and do
- Journal the things that give you energy
- Take the Sparketype assessment here!
- Start looking for the things you feel intrinsically compelled to do
- Over the next 24-48 hours, pause on a regular basis throughout the day and ask yourself: what am I doing? Do I feel right now intrinsically compelled to do more of this, or is my internal compulsion to just get it over with as quickly as possible so I can stop doing it? Is the thing that I’m doing right now giving me energy or taking energy?
- If you do this, it will start to give you a strong sense of day-to-day activities that will give you hints as to what your deeper driver is, what your immediate passions are, what things you could start to avoid, what things to build your day around
- Remember: self-awareness is a superpower
- Maybe we’re not burnt out because we’re doing too many things, maybe we’re burnt out because we’re not doing enough of the things that give us that spark
- Don’t forget to take a screenshot of this episode, tag us both on social media (@jonathanfields & @jimkwik) and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us!
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Episode 31: The Champion’s Mindset with Olympian Dr. Jeff Spencer
Episode 39: Wipe Out Negative Thoughts & Limiting Beliefs
Episode 47: How Gratitude Rewires Your Brain
Episode 79: Imagination for Courage, Creativity & Change with Beth Comstock