FIND YOUR PURPOSE
Listen to your inner voice
Mine has been an extraordinary road trip of a life. At 17, expelled from school, I opted to become a mother in an attempt to give my life a sense of purpose. I gained the latter in abundance, with the birth of my daughter sending me into a spiral of achievement, which ended with the creation of Color Blind Cards, my multicultural greeting-card business. The cards were exported around the world, and started a national conversation on representation and diversity. I was invited to join round tables with the Prime Minister, deliver assemblies to children in South Africa, and received an MBE for services to entrepreneurship – all by the age of 34. I was your classic success-against-theodds story. Behind the scenes, however, I was struggling. Plagued by depression, my self-esteem was non-existent. Having spent 15 years trying to be happy and attempting to ‘fix’ myself (when I wasn’t broken to start with), the zest for life I feel today is a 360-degree turn on the angst that used to be hidden behind my outwardly ‘successful’ life.
The difference? Today my sense of self isn’t dictated by what I do for a living. I’ve become acquainted with my true self. I’ve found my voice – and my standards – and won’t compromise on either. To find it requires peeling back the layers and remembering who we are. Purpose is the tiniest Russian doll nestled at the centre of ourselves and setting her free can transform your life. This is what I’ve learnt…
1 CLEAR UP YOUR SIDE OF THE ROAD AND GET ACCOUNTABLE
For me, my relationship with my mother was the Achilles heel in my life. Mum had problems throughout my childhood and while this affected me and my siblings as kids, as an adult I’d unconsciously allowed it to be the excuse for many of the things that weren’t working in my own life. I’d made my mum the baddie in my story, and when I finally woke up to that fact, I was able to take responsibility for allowing myself to continue being impacted by my childhood dysfunction. I called up my mum and I apologised for not seeing all the wonderful things she did for us as children. The museums we visited, the books we read, the ballet classes she ferried me to. That call transformed our relationship – it was healing for her, and gave me permission to stop being a victim.
2 PRIORITISE TIME TO CONNECT WITH YOU
The real you, that is. That inner voice that tells you everything you need to know. Call it your conscience, intuition or sixth sense. Commit to creating moments when inspired thoughts about your purpose can occur. In the past year, I’ve devoted more time than ever before to honouring me. One random dance class (having not danced for many, many years) touched me so deeply that childhood memories I’d forgotten came swimming to the surface of my consciousness. I was reacquainted with an old part of myself, and I was left inspired by the power of losing an hour to pure expression.
3 JUST START, DON’T WAIT FOR PERFECTION
So many of us have ideas or passion projects outside our day job that feel like a dream or missed opportunity. We often create excuses for not starting them, waiting for the perfect set of circumstances, but there is no such thing. In that moment back in 2007, as I looked for a card for my daughter and discovered there were none with black faces on them, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t a clue how to run a business. I felt compelled to take action. One thing lead to another because I was in my flow… and this is crucial. Let go of your need to have a full-scale plan and just throw yourself into taking action that inspires you.
4 MASTER YOUR MOOD
For years, I’d go through phases of waking up feeling there was a cloud above my head, until a friend introduced me to the idea that I could take responsibility for my mood. She gave me a book about the effects of not complaining for 21 days, and so I embarked on the challenge. First, it changed the words I spoke, then it changed my thoughts. It impacted my mood and, as a result, my relationships. Finally, it shifted my old ways of being that had become my norm.
5 YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS
Realising that the niggling voice in my head wasn’t actually me, that I was able to observe it at a distance and with objectivity, was a game-changer. I used to hate ‘being’ with me, so I avoided it by working all hours to escape the silence that might force me to look inward and actually feel. Discovering that my negative voice was separate to me changed everything. The only way to get in touch with that true self is to reconnect to her and, in time, you’ll feel what is right and true for you.
6 EMBRACE THE PAIN
Caring for my dad who died in 2016, seven weeks after my wedding in Jamaica, changed my life. Everything that I'd placed so much importance on was suddenly meaningless, but from within that space between life and death, meaning emerged. My dad was my person. We were incredibly close, and I experienced him coming to terms with the ending of his life as though I was living it with him. I leaned into the pain and allowed myself to feel all of it, and, as a result, was available to learn from it. It’s hard, but dive into the grief, and be with it until the hurt morphs into acceptance and wisdom.
7 HELP OTHERS
As my dad neared the end of his life, I was amazed by the four hospice carers whose job was to enable another human being to exit the world comfortably, and support that person’s family during this process. They blew my mind with their selflessness. After my dad died, the impact of such selfless care stayed with me and taught me the joy of being there for others without personal benefit. Volunteering and acts of kindness remind us of what is important and nourish our soul. Purpose by Jessica Huie
(Hay House) is out now.
Shoes, £195, LK Bennett