7 questions that will help you find fulfilling and lucrative work.

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Back in college, I was on a relentless pursuit to discover my purpose — I thought that if I could find my life's purpose, I would finally be successful.

So, for an entire year, I would waltz into a Starbucks once a day with my little hipster man bun, a couple self-help books and my Mac, and I would order a $5 iced caramel macchiato.

I would then spend an hour or so reading and searching the web for my life's purpose (and would never find it). Discouraged yet hopeful, I would come back the following day and repeat the entire sequence again.

At the end of the year, I had spent hundreds of dollars on Starbuck's iced beverages and had nothing to show for it — except for a longer man bun, a higher caffeine tolerance and perhaps a couple thousand self-help pages worth of knowledge lost somewhere in my brain.

Looking back on it, I laugh at how ridiculous my thought process was — if I sit here long enough, eventually my life's purpose will just sort of fall into my lap.

It wasn't until I was 22 years old that I realized there is no such thing as finding one's life purpose.

"Fuck purpose, get money."

Wow, not exactly, but kind of…

I think the word purpose gets thrown around too often by internet entrepreneurs and life coaches.

They romanticize this idea of waking up in the morning, tears of happiness running down your face, shaking uncontrollably with excitement as you think about living yet another day fulfilling your life's purpose.

But, I think this is bullshit. I don't think purpose works like this, and I would even argue that purpose doesn't exist — at least not in the way that these shallow social media personalities are selling it.

The day I stopped living to find my purpose and started working towards making money doing something I liked (not necessarily loved) was the closest I have ever been to finding my life's purpose.

So, for the remainder of this article, we aren't going to talk about purpose. Instead, we are going to use a different term — scope.

The definition of scope (or at least my definition of scope) — is focused work that you like doing and that adds value to someone or something.

Below you will find 7 question that will help you discover your scope. And, to each question, I am going to give a hypothetical answer. At the end of the article, you are going to find an example of how these hypothetical answers can morph into a Scope — or fulfilling and lucrative work.

Let's pretend the person answering these questions is Denise, a project manager at a small marketing firm in her hometown of Chattanooga, TN.

7 questions that will help you find fulfilling and lucrative work (a.k.a your Scope).

1. What would you do on a random Tuesday afternoon if you had absolutely no responsibilities or obligations?

"I would sit in one of my favorite local coffee shops and listen to music while I sketch and color."

2. Give an example of a person whose life and work you admire. In other words, who is someone that has a life you would like to have?

"Well, there is a girl that works in one of the coffee shops I go to… she is a freelance writer. I love how she can work from wherever she wants, while getting paid to do creative work that she enjoys. I am not a writer, I am terrible at writing… but I think it would be cool to have a life similar to hers."

3. What is your unfair advantage? In other words, something you are really fucking good at.

"I have noticed I have a great eye for interior design. I never went to school for it, but I am really proud of how I have put my apartment together."

4. What would your friends say you are good at? (If you don't know, ask them).

"Okay, I just texted a few of my closest friends. They said I am a great bargain hunter. Also, they said I am ridiculously knowledgeable when it comes to coffee (I am a bit of a coffee snob I suppose). Oh, and one of them mentioned that I was a great doodler."

5. What is a major problem you see that could be easily fixable?

"God… where do I begin? I think a lot of men are extremely poor dressers. I also have noticed people think they need to spend a lot of money on their clothes to dress well. And finally, I am not in love with how coffee shops design and lay out their websites. I think a lot of them lack personality"

6. As a child, what did you love doing?

"Haha… honestly, I loved coloring and adored art class. I actually took art all the way through high school, but stopped in college. I thought a degree in business would be more helpful."

7. What are your three favorite T.V. shows?

"Game of Thrones… Mad Men… and maybe… I don't know, I can't think of another."

A few scopes to consider.

From Denise's hypothetical answers… here are a few scopes I would recommend for her to explore…

  1. An Ambiance Specialist for coffee shops and boutiques. Denise could travel the United States working with coffee shops and boutiques on improving their in-store experience. This may include putting together custom Spotify playlists, coming up with creative Instagram campaigns and creating a stellar in store experience through interior design.
  2. A stylist and dating coach for men. Denise could work with men on improving their personal style and updating their wardrobe. Most men who are interested in this, are probably looking to appeal more to the opposite sex — Denise could up-sell them by offering dating services to help them become more of a "ladies man".
  3. A graphic & web designer that works strictly with coffee shops. Denise could take a few courses on graphic design and start reaching out to coffee shops across the United States offering graphic design services — there are countless coffee shops looking to revamp their current logo or create a whole new one from scratch. And, if she played around with Squarespace, before too long she could build websites for these shops too.

Purpose is Thinking, Scope is Acting.

"Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don't know.
Cat: Then it doesn't matter which way you go." 
— Lewis Carroll

This is one of my favorite excerpts of all time and something I refer back to in my writing frequently. I think it sums up perfectly the dangers of getting lost in thought (even if that thought is about purpose).

I am not for certain if any of us ever find our purpose. I think we find a focus that we enjoy doing and that we become good at and that we can make money being good at it.

I think then and only then we become passionate, and then and only then can we begin to wave around the word purpose.

But all I know, is that purpose is not found lost in thought at coffee shops, it's found through deliberate action.

Choose a scope and double down.

By Cole Schafer

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