If a sense of purpose has eluded you so far in life, you’re not alone. After all, finding one’s purpose isn’t in any job description. Fortunately, we’re never too late to start our quest for purpose.
Some might argue that a lack of purpose is less of a limitation and more of a gift to be a multi-potentialist (someone who is open to possibilities, lacks focus, and sees potential in everything instead of having one single purpose). Until three years ago, when I suddenly noticed I was closer to age 50 than 40, I always opted to wave the “potentialist” banner—until I discovered network marketing.
In this world, having a sense of purpose is undoubtedly a powerful manifesto to guide conscious decision-making and courageous action. Coming from a corporate background based on hierarchy, exploring—let alone sharing—a sense of purpose with others seemed an unnatural and herculean task. But still, I was envious of those who seemed to know their calling. Work independently? Sure I can do that. Handle rejection? If I must. Talk whole-heartedly about my sense of purpose in life to others? That was going too far.
However, network marketing has become a haven for the workplace traditionalist. From someone who fought the notion of purpose, actively avoided the pursuit, then finally surrendered, figured it out, and ultimately soared. Here are my three counter-intuitive but proven strategies to help transition yourself, and corporate types, from purpose-avoidance to purpose-awareness to a purpose-driven career and life.
Patience. As you start your network marketing business, take time to discover and declare a purpose. Your goal is to find focus and sustainability, neither of which happens quickly. Only after extensive study and reflection was I able to identify common ground about purpose. At the three-way intersection of “what I love,” “what I’m good at,” and “what the world needs” lies the beginning of the process. This is where patience comes into play.
Quick confession: When I started my business, I did it first because I had something to prove to the doubters, and after that to other top leaders in my company, and then finally to myself. I reached a state of bliss six years into building my business when I realized I no longer had anything to prove to anyone.
During these first years, my motivations were externally focused on recognition, money, status, trips. In that mindset, there was little room to develop a purpose or quest—and I knew it. But after five years of self-discovery, learning to love my own story became its own quest. My advice to anyone unsure about purpose, therefore, is to cultivate patience. After all, it is “the greatest of all virtues.”
Pain. No pain, no gain, right? But hey, life gets easier when you discover your calling, doesn’t it? The sky opens up, bluebirds appear on your shoulder, the world is full of rainbows and puppy dogs, and everything is downhill from here. Wrong! In fact, it’s quite the contrary. The paradox of purpose is that to become worthy of it requires mastery, and mastery can be exhausting.
Dan Pink identified what some call “the trifecta of motivation” in his book Drive. “Autonomy, mastery, and purpose is what we all seek,” he argues, and he backs it up with terrific research. Clearly, anything worth calling your purpose is worth mastering, and with that comes the painful pursuit of excellence, which comes with repetition and even failure. Chances are, if you’re working hard to master something and you still love it whether you’re failing or succeeding, it means you’re on the right path.
Practice. Your purpose isn’t a destination, a mantra, or a meme. It’s a daily practice, a ritual of behaviors. To be purpose-driven is to put your passion into practice, with tangible outcomes for you and others. Sometimes you get it right. Often you fail. But once you identify it, you want to fortify it. Then elevate your mastery with striving and continual learning.
I arrived at my purpose at age 50. It actually reflects something I’ve done all my career, but never as meaningfully and effectively as I can achieve in network marketing. As a marketing consultant, I represented clients, products, and corporations to put forward their best brand message. “What am I good at” is a skill set that has been honed for decades. Yet network marketing helped me identify what I truly love—that moment when a team member discovers their own why and becomes self-motivated.
Finding my purpose has taken patience, pain, and practice. But since I’ve uncovered it, I love to share it with everyone. Now, what I strive for every single day is to “champion the dreams of others.” There it is! There’s my purpose. If you’re ready, go find yours and please share it.
BRIDGET CAVANAUGH grew up in Montana where her family’s hobby was thoroughbred racing. After a year of building her network marketing business part time, she walked away from a 23-year career as a top executive in public relations to apply her talents helping others start and grow their own businesses. The time pressure of running a traditional consulting business and her desire to be more present with her young kids are what led her to discover a new path.Today Bridget speaks regularly at women’s conferences and regional business conventions. She is an expert in personal branding, social media, marketing, and leadership, all of which she executes from her ranching life in Bozeman, Montana. Bridget is also passionate about her non-profit board positions that impact her community and competitive equestrian sports, which she now has time to pursue.