For most of us, the idea of “work” is pretty un-glamorous. A girl’s gotta earn a living (hello, student loans), and more often than we’d like to admit, earning that living requires us to clock in to jobs that are less than fulfilling. Cue the old Dad-ism about “it’s called work for a reason,” because while many of us enter the work force with all the best intentions of doing our small part to change the world, it’s a lot easier to find yourself pushing papers and sending emails to pay the bills. Oof.
Before you start feeling guilty about not serving some grand purpose in the universe, though… stop. Peta Kelly — conscious entrepreneur, speaker, author, and generally awesome millennial voice — is helping take the pressure off. And if her perspective can’t help you slow down, take a breath, and stop overanalyzing the situation, we’re not sure if anyone’s will. She did write a book called Earth Is Hiring ($18), after all.
“I think it’s important that [people] take the pressure off themselves to search for a purpose and instead start paying attention to how their soul wants them to live, to thrive more, to live a more beautiful alignment in their own lives,” Kelly says. “From there, all the ‘work’ we are meant to do becomes so obvious that we’ll laugh over how we ever went looking for it. Everything is clear when we live in alignment.”
While Kelly’s advice for finding purposeful work might not be as specific as seeking out the right kind of job or launching a do-good side hustle, it will still lead you to live in a more meaningful way, and she breaks down the process into seven intellectual, creative steps. Keep reading for all the details, then give yourself a break. There are plenty of ways for you to start working purposefully, whether it be full-time or in small doses. Deciding that this kind of purpose matters to you is half the battle!
1. Pay attention. Before you can get to work pursuing a job or side hustle that will make you feel fulfilled, you need to start tuning in to what you really want. Ask yourself: If my purpose was to feel aligned and alive, what would I be doing instead of what I do now?
2. Let excitement be your evidence. Your emotional work isn’t done just because you’ve done some light soul searching. Now that you’ve started considering what kind of work might bring you into better alignment, you’ll want to gauge your energy on an ongoing basis to be sure you’re on the right track. “Excitement is crucial evidence in the purpose puzzle,” Kelly tells us. “Become super curious about the things, places, and ideas that continuously excite you.”
3. Test yourself. One of the tools Kelly suggests to help you find meaning in your work is something she calls the Energy Test. Take a step back every time you find yourself experiencing a spike in energy, and think about what you’re actually doing in that moment. When you’re working purposefully, you’ll experience the good vibes a lot more, so why not try to find a gig that allows you to partake in those high-frequency activities on the job?
4. Get in your tap. “‘The tap’ is my term for the waterfall of ideas and inspiration that is always on offer to you,” Kelly says. “You know when you’re in the shower and you need a notebook to write down all of your ideas? Or when you’re at your fave coffee shop and are so inspired you can’t handle it? It’s [because] your tap is on.” Figure out what kinds of activities turn that tap on for you… then, do more of them.
5. Get rid of the kinks. Picture a garden hose that’s knotted and twisted into kinks. Nothing can flow through it! The same thing happens to your brain when you’re not taking good care of yourself. Get rid of your own kinks to unlock maximum creativity and ambition by shuffling your schedule, adjusting your wellness routines, or reconsidering a toxic relationship. As long as these obstacles are in your way, you’ll struggle to find the purpose you’re looking for. Kick them to the curb and see how much more aligned you feel.
6. Romance your ideas. What does it mean to romance your ideas? Kelly suggests writing them down and getting curious about them. “If you can create a safe space for your ideas to live, they’ll feel safe to keep coming to you,” she says. Jot down and dig into all of the ideas you have about purposeful work. More are bound to come your way!
7. Have fun! “Honestly, play is not a distraction from our purpose,” Kelly tells us. “It is our purpose. Don’t mistake this as being not profound enough. If you’re in doubt, play.”
What kind of work or side hustle sounds most meaningful to you? Tweet us @BritandCo!
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.
(Photos via Peta Kelly)