For some, however, the pursuit of purpose in our work can become a hindrance rather than a catalyst for fulfillment and personal growth.
Compared to other professions like doctors or social workers, I know that my job as a designer doesn’t necessarily cause a massive positive impact on society. I try to avoid doing harm by being selective with the types of projects and clients I take on and having strong work ethics. But still, at the end of the day, I am designing interfaces for products that yes, make some people’s lives easier, but that they could also live without.
For a long time, I tried to compensate by creating and finding purpose in personal projects, believing that this was the key to a fulfilling career. But this relentless pursuit of purpose did have a negative impact rather than enhance my creative journey. So much so, that I stopped creating anything beyond my “regular day job”.
Perhaps this pressure to find purpose is exacerbated by the scarcity of free time, causing me to try to make the most of every moment. Or from my job as a UI and UX designer, where I must ensure that every interaction I design serves a specific goal and benefits the users. This mindset spanned on to other areas and types of projects that don’t necessarily require this pragmatism; yet, over time, I realized that this approach was leaving me feeling unfulfilled and stifled in my creativity. The constant pressure to find meaning in my work was slowly poisoning my passion.
By fixating on purpose, I inadvertently blocked my own creative flow. I neglected to make time for experimentation, play, and the sheer joy of creating. Every idea had to serve a greater cause, make a significant impact, or carry a profound message. If I couldn't find these elements in my concepts, I discarded them and I berated myself for my inability to produce work with purpose.
By forcing myself to produce only purposeful work, I had unwittingly erected barriers that stopped my progress. It was as if I had imposed restrictions on myself, inhibiting my ability to freely express and follow my creative instincts. Purpose became a constraint rather than a catalyst for my growth.
Finding purpose in the absence of purpose
Now, going forward I pledge to myself a new approach. I give myself permission to explore, experiment, and create without feeling confined to a specific goal or mission. I release the pressure to meet expectations and perform according to external standards. Instead, I embrace the process of creation, free from the shackles of purpose.
While purpose may emerge naturally from my work, I no longer prioritize it from the start. Instead, I choose to find purpose in the enjoyment and fulfillment that the process brings. I give myself permission to create for the sake of joy, without the pressure of selling, making money, or solving a need. By reframing my perspective, I understand that the pursuit of enjoyment itself is a worthy purpose.
Reconnecting with joy
It's time for me to challenge these notions. To acknowledge that the seemingly "pointless" moments of joy and experimentation are not wasted time but invaluable fuel for my creative journey. To grant myself the freedom to explore, create, and change direction whenever I desire.
And perhaps, in the process, I will discover that purpose arises naturally when I allow myself to follow my interests and preferences, unencumbered by the constant need for justification.
What’s your stance on this topic, can you relate to it? Does finding purpose serve you as a guide or do you also feel blocked by this?
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