What is your purpose?
If you can’t answer this question immediately, then you’re on the wrong track. It should be very simple: What is your passion? What do you enjoy doing most? What is most fulfilling to you? While fulfilling your purpose, or engaged in an activity that you’re passionate about, time flies. You lose yourself. You become completely focused. Everything else fades away. Psychology professor Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls it “flow.” Check out his Ted Talk to learn more...
But how many people are actually pursuing their passion/purpose? My guess is not very many. We live in a culture that encourages the pursuit of personal wealth, rather than personal fulfillment. But what if your passion was your job? What if your monthly paycheck was determined by how well you fulfilled your purpose that month? There is absolutely no reason why this cannot be.
From this moment onward, consider it your job to follow your dreams. 9-5. Everyday.
But traditionally, there is a stigma/conflict between art and business, art and money, art and industry. For me, they are delicately intertwined. Business/marketing is just another way to be creative and express myself. It’s part of my creative process.
“Good advertising is simply good art.”
(Taschen, The Evolution of Advertising, Peter Russell 2013)
But I wasn’t always that way. I used to be vehemently opposed to the idea of making films for money. I didn’t care who saw my films. I was a “pure” artist! I used to believe that thinking about marketing/business hindered the creative process. I used to believe that money tainted creation.
I absolutely believe that intending to do something only for personal gain (in the form of money) yields poor results compared to doing something for the pure love/joy of it – and fails in comparison to the fulfillment and impact of doing something for others instead of yourself. When doing work just for money, one’s motivation originates from a different place in your body and mind that does not stimulate the passion, inspiration, determination, and creativity that is required to manifest exceptional results. It is much easier to consider money as a means to an end, not an end in itself.
The key is to perform your unique talent/gift in creating work that simply fulfills you(whether it be art, media, product, or service), then figuring out how to monetize that. Now imagine monetizing your work with the intention of helping or adding value to others. WOW! Now that’s a business! See how a simple shift in perspective can completely change the results?
Some common objections that I’ve heard from artists AGAINST monetizing their passion:
• “I don’t know how.”
• “Sure, but let’s get realistic.”
• “I don’t want to sell out. I’m a pure artist.”
• “Too much work.”
• “I’m afraid I’ll fail or look bad.”
• All the “what if”’s in the world.
These are all perfectly understandable fears and objections. But if you are allowing one of these measly thoughts to prevent you from pursuing your passion, then you don't deserve all the splendor and wealth that comes when fulfilling your purpose. If you do have any of these thoughts, then the work you are doing is NOT your purpose, it is not fulfilling you enough, you are not living at your full potential. YOU have been endowed with a special gift/talent. Yes, YOU! You are here on this planet for a very specific reason. It is your responsibility and your duty to yourself and your species to figure out what that purpose is and pursue that like there is no tomorrow. The world needs you now more than ever. But do not fear – you are probably on the right track, even very close. An activity that embodies one’s purpose is very specific, usually combining two or more unique talents. For example…
I have always loved making art. My parents tell me stories of my artistic escapades as a child – falling asleep on coloring books at 3 yrs old. Art was one of the ONLY classes in school that I could enjoy – the bell would always ring too early, and I would often stay after everybody left. The only other class I enjoyed was math. I absolutely LOVE math and solving problems. I took both years of AP Calculus, and got 5’s on both the AP tests. If I wasn’t doing something creative, I’d probably be a mathematician, electrical physicist, or engineer. It wasn’t until I got my own computer that my love for math became practical, and I developed a deep fasciation with technology, making my own electric brush motors and adams motors from scratch (yes, I was and still am a nerd). I enjoyed making art and I enjoyed technology, but my fulfillment was on a whole new level when both joys were combined in making films. I know I am good at making films. I have understood this to be my purpose for 12 years now. The very first week I started making films at age 14, I knew that I would be doing it for the rest of my life. I remember that first week like it was just yesterday; I remember the very first film I made, I remember the moment that I realized this was my very special gift and that I would be doing it for the rest of my life. That moment is branded into my consciousness forever. It was like love at first sight (I’m still waiting for that to happen with a girl). But filmmaking has only brought so much wealth and fulfillment into my life…. My other great passion is business – I’ve always been obsessed with entrepreneurs, companies, brands, marketing, sales, product development, and making money. I know that my talents have always fit very well into a very specific space between business and art. Some would call this space “marketing.” Ever since I was 16, I have been helping other businesses to brand and market themselves to make more money using promotional, branding, and commercial marketing materials(in both print and video). For me, using my filmmaking skills to help businesses make more money has brought even more wealth and fulfillment into my life. But neither of these passions(film and business) has brought me nearly as much fulfillment as teaching and helping other artists. It’s still too early for me to tell, but when I decided to start this blog, I had another love-at-first-sight moment: I felt like I was fulfilling a new purpose (or a purpose that has been there all along). And since I have shifted my focus towards helping other artists become financially independent with their work, I have experienced a huge increase in income, opportunities, fans, clients wanting to work with me, as well as personal joy and fulfillment. In my mind, my purpose is crystal clear. As you can see, my journey has brought me from the discipline of art to technology, film, business, marketing, and now teaching – rolling up all my passions into a super tasty/satisfying burrito, requiring from me multiple talents/skills that I am gifted with. That’s kind of a long story to explain my point, but my experience is exemplary: your purpose will require multiple skills/talents from you.
Here are just a few ways you can monetize your passion/purpose:
• teaching (get a masters degree to teach at school, or do your own private lessons)
• freelance (self-employed, work for yourself, handle clients, gigs through word of mouth)
• job / long term client (work for somebody else, or work for only one client)
• sell your work yourself (online retailer, storefront/gallery, build an audience)
• small business (open up a storefront or build a team)
• personal coaching/trainer
• sponsorship (get a company to pay you in exchange for advertising)
• critique, write as a critic (blog, magazines, newspapers)
• form a non-prof/charity for your work
• entrepreneurship (go big or go home)
• rentals (equipment you may have, etc.)
• investing (use your knowledge of your work to invest in solid companies in your field)
Seeing a list like this reminds me how easy it is to make money doing what I love. Do you feel hopeless/helpless when it comes to our economy and the job market? We’ve been conditioned to believe that getting a job or trading our time for a paycheck is the only way to support ourselves and pay the bills. But do not fear – for the age of self-distribution is finally here.
I will leave you with some wisdom from one of my favorite books by Deepak Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success… Discover your special talent/gift. Use it to serve others, and you will bring more wealth and fulfillment into your life than you could ever imagine.