“Wisdom begins with a radical self-knowledge before it becomes wise enough to be helpful and useful to others.” Michael Meade in Fate and Destiny, The Two Agreements of the Soul
The most practical thing you can do when you work for yourself is to know your soul purpose or what I call your life project. Until you know this, all talk of finding your niche or your unique offer in the marketplace is futile.
When you do know your life project, it infuses the shaping of a profitable business with meaning, which transforms otherwise daunting and tedious work into creative action.
So lets look at how to bring your life project into form in meaningful and profitable work.
The five questions
The following five questions will not only awaken you to your life project, they will distill that project into daily action. They will give you both the big picture and the granular detail you need to be the change you want to see in the world.
* Why are you here?
* What’s your vision?
* What’s your compelling goal?
* What will it take?
* What’s one step?
Why are you here?
The challenge in asking and answering this question is to dance at the edge of great seriousness and great lightness. If you are not serious enough, you will miss the sacred essence of your life project.
If you are too serious, you’ll be weighed down and unable to respond to what life asks of you.
What’s your vision?
Your vision is different from your life project. It’s how you see the world being blessed or enhanced or shaped as the result of living your life project.
There can be as many different visions as there are people with a given life project. One healer may envision a world free of malaria, another a world in which young girls love their bodies.
What’s your compelling goal?
Your compelling goal is the pivot on which your life project turns into meaningful and profitable work.
What specifically do you intend to accomplish through your business in service of your vision?
The healer who envisions a world free of malaria might have the business goal of ending malaria deaths in Africa by 2015 (malarianomore.org).
The healer who envisions a world in which young girls love their bodies might envision a spa especially for pre-teens.
What will it take?
What has to happen for your goal to be accomplished? What projects should be undertaken?
(Yup, I said “should.” Should is not necessarily the imposition of a neurotic pattern by a cranky inner critic. Sometimes you really should do something. When you’ve chosen a compelling goal in service of your life project, your very soul will issue a mandate about what you should and shouldn’t do. Don’t let pop psychology keep you from heeding that mandate.)
What’s one step?
Life happens and life projects are served one action at a time.
It’s easy to be dazzled and overcome by the scale and significance of your life project and vision. It’s easy to be paralyzed and overwhelmed by the multitude of details involved on a daily basis.
It’s in tying these together that you’ll find a semblance of surefootedness. (I say a semblance, because if you’re doing it right, your balance will be challenged on a regular basis.)
That’s why I say your compelling goal is the pivot. When you get lost in the clouds, your goal will ground you. When you get mired in the details, it will pull you out of the muck.
The sacred and mundane work together
A life project is never finished. It is lived rather than done. Expressed rather than accomplished.
When you know that your life project is bigger than, though served by, your business and your goals, you are free to live your vision in the most practical way.
You are free to claim and express your soul work even though you can’t cram it all into the confines of a business plan.
At the same time, you are free to do the creative and practical work of making a business profitable. It’s okay to function well in the mundane world, because your mundane activities serve a sacred vision.
Photo by Moyan Brenn via Flickr