I am one of these people who can’t settle doing just one thing. I’m madly jealous at individuals who seem to be able to focus with monomaniacal obsession on a big goal in life, a purpose. Only earlier today, I was completing a worksheet in my NLP instructor’s book, asking for my purpose. I had to think long and hard and, I confess, I eventually wrote the question in my notebook for further thinking without being able to fully answer it. What’s my purpose? There are so many angles to this question. Do I need to have a purpose? Are we assuming at all that there is someone or something who has put us on Earth for a particular purpose? Personally (biological purpose aside) I don’t think this is the case. I think spiritual purpose is an individual choice albeit strongly coloured by our experiences, background and social influence. So unlike many individuals I know and clients I effortlessly assist to find their purpose in life, I don’t think I have yet found mine.
There is however a silver lining, a thread that seems to be connecting all my disparate experiences under one banner: music. Since the age of 11, I have been hearing music in my head. For that, I feel rather fortunate; instead, it could have been voices telling me to do something sinister, for instance. But hearing music intrigued me, as I couldn’t even play an instrument then (in fact it took me another 4 years until I was bought my first keyboard and started to learn to play music). What I ‘heard’ wasn’t very original in the beginning (as I only found out much later). Much of the music I heard in my head, was in fact an amalgamation of existing songs and musical pieces I was familiar with, often blatantly following the same chord patterns and structure as the original, with only a few clever alterations to the melody and arrangements. But as I struggled to find a way to express them and ‘get them out’, I realized that I was stuck with them. They were there to stay, and inhabited my head daily. They would pop up at unsuspecting moments, demanding full attention. You won’t be surprised to hear that I was considered (and still unapologetically remain ) a daydreamer.
Music has helped me through some rather dark times over the years. The first album of my metal band, of which I composed all music and wrote all lyrics, was dealing with my permanent feelings of isolation and solitude at the time. It was a greatly cathartic experience, and it also got me out and about in Europe with a small tour where I met a lot of interesting people, had fascinating experiences and made new friends. Over the years that followed, music helped me to overcome shyness, was a reason for me to get out of the house and actually do things (feel the fear and do it anyway, as the motto says) and even brought me respect and a high ‘social standing’ in certain circles. And all that because I decided to do something about the sounds I was hearing in my head.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise then to hear that music was the first thing I turned to as soon as lockdown kicked in the United Kingdom. In the previous nine months, I had precious little time for it as I had to make the small business I now owned work, and all my time was being consumed by this. However, I often felt that something was missing in my life, an escape from the physical constraints of reality to which I could flee whenever I had the need. And suddenly, this escape was there for me again, ready to take me to new places where I could acquire new experiences, and discover new worlds.
My business found itself suddenly closed, and I had to furlough my staff. As I am not a beauty ‘technician’ myself and my staff are not allowed to work during furlough, business activities are now on hold with the exception of an eCommerce store I quickly set up. There is still plenty to deal with in terms of accounting, dealing with government grants, keeping clients updated during closure and staying in touch with staff who are isolated in their homes. But I couldn’t possibly find any purpose in all of this. Unlike in making music.
Being creative with music, and any engaging activity in general, brings us in a state of Flow, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi demonstrated in his fascinating book with the same name. And this is exactly what happened once I found the time to concentrate on being creative again. Within weeks I recorded and released an album with piano music, I did Facebook live shows and released several videos in which I performed my music from my room. In the process I made quite a few people happy and kept them entertained during their own isolation. I also created my own universe again, my ‘centre’ where I feel happy and fulfilled. Time flew, but didn’t feel lost.
I’m expecting that in this instance, a lot of you will protest. ‘But I’m not a creative person’ you might say. Truth is, that even though a lot of people believe this, in fact most of us are. It’s just that in the society we live in, particular emphasis has been given to certain types of creativity, such as creating art. But creativity can manifest in various ways. It can be seen in the way in which you tend your garden, in how you pour your tea, or how you negotiate traffic lights as a creative musician pointed out in a podcast interview I did a few years ago. The crucial point however, where creativity can make the difference in your life and help you create your own world of purpose, focus and happiness is when it meets not only your creative needs, but also your purpose.
There, I said that word again. And it does look like upon reflection (and through writing this blog), I have found my purpose after all: I want to move, entertain and influence people’s thoughts and feelings, by creating positive energy and change. I accept that this can mean something different to each person individually and I’m always keen to find out what it means to each individual, in order to help them get to that place of utter fulfillment and flow. I can also now see how music will always play a central role in all of this.
What about you? What is your purpose, your ‘why’, your centre? What keeps you sane and fulfilled in these highly unusual times of social distancing and financial uncertainty in the world?
Kostas The Coach is a Psychologist, Life and Small Business Coach and NLP Practitioner based in Llantwit Major, Wales. I help people of various backgrounds find the ideal intersection between profit, joy and values in their lives, and I assist businesses to grow sustainably while remaining aligned to their why.
If any of the topics discussed here has intrigued you, I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me on Kostasthecoach@gmail.com or contact me via telephone or SMS on 07725653870.