Asking This One Question Flips Finding Your Purpose On Its Head

Our purpose may morph over the years, often many times. The Great Resignation has left many asking, ‘What’s my purpose?’. Ask this instead.

Living with cancer that’s no longer curable has been a game-changer. Surprisingly, it’s also been a gift. Transitioning to a portfolio career to live well with cancer also means living well, period.

Live a great story. Do it on your own terms. You have permission. You’re unleashed. In the words of Terri Guillemets: “Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.”

Sean Aiken had an unconventional litmus test for this, working a different job every week for a year to find his passion. After 52 weeks of collecting experiences and advice, he distilled it to this: it’s not just important to find a job but to discover our true gifts and our life’s work. “What fulfils you? What’s the contribution you want to make? What makes you come alive?”

It’s also important to recognize that our “purpose” may morph over the years, often many times. Sometimes it’s the world itself that has changed, changing us. Never has this been more apparent than in the past two years. Instead of asking “What’s my passion or purpose?” I now ask, “What energizes me? What makes me happy right now?”

We’re no good to anybody when we’re miserable, sick and burnt out. Sometimes you can expand or reinvent within your current workplace. Sometimes you need to move on to grow. Some people may flourish with a “portfolio career.” (Hand way up!)

Look for the opportunities that align with your most authentic self, even as that changes. Especially as that changes.

Great places to start:

April Rinne’s Harvard Business Review primer on career portfolios.

More about Sean Aiken’s experiences here.

Sue Braiden.

Thanks for putting your elbows on the digital kitchen table with me! If this resonates with you and you think it might be of use to others, please share and invite them to tuck a few thoughts into the comments along with your own. I’d love to hear about YOUR adventures in the pursuit of meaningful work. What “Aha! Moments” has it led to? Has a portfolio career expanded your work/life? Let’s talk …

About the Author

Sue Braiden — Solutions Journalist & Better World Technologist

I’m a Solutions Journalist and Better World Technologist pivoting to a portfolio career while kicking cancer’s butt for the second time!

Having spent more than 35 years as a social impact tech pioneer, I’m reinventing. I’m leaning in on the lessons I learned serving locally as a CBC Radio Computer Columnist and mentor working with at-risk women and children, to globally through servant leadership as the North American Vice-Chair for UNESCO’s efforts to keep kids safer online and community sustainability projects in Africa.

Now living with metastatic cancer, I’m building a portfolio career based on my deep love of storytelling as a vehicle for change while indulging in a lifelong love of creating jewerly, music and art. The gifts of cancer in Act 2 are many! You get clear about the importance of bringing your whole self to work, the power of Joy Experiments and the privilege of reinventing even later in life.

Having spent much of the past 2 decades as a remote worker building and leveraging online community experiences, I feel incredibly empowered as I step into this reboot and am looking forward to connecting with other entrepreneurs at this digital kitchen table.

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram or by visiting my website.

Why not say “Hi!” in the comments below? 👇🏻



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Sue Braiden

Solutions Journalist and Better World Technologist. Superpowers ▶ Asking 2 questions: 1) What works? and 2) How can we do more of that?