So many people go on a search almost like a “seek and find” approach to locate or uncover what they call “their life purpose.” What does that mean? I think if you start reading on this topic you can find everything from a calling, niche, goal, intention, objective, mantra, and so many others. We have purposes for almost everything we do in life but what is that “life purpose?” One thing is clear: with all the definitions involved they cannot possibly mean the same thing. So, let’s start with a basic definition of what we are in search of. Does that make some sense? You see if we start with confusion where will we end up? Right! You got it…more confusion!
We have so many social pressures today to perform whether in school to get the best grades, thereafter to get a great job, to family life being the best spouse and the best parent. Seemingly this process never ends or at least until the kids are gone and then for many parents they look at each other and say “now what?” When do we ever have the time or energy or freedom to truly be in search of our real passion? We spend more time and energy meeting the perceived demands of our society to meet societal standards. Psychological studies actually show that no matter what we think about knowing ourselves, most of us are somewhat deluded about who we are!
To get your thinking along the right path the first step is to free yourself from all those perceived societal expectations: whether from family, friends or just “societal norms.” Release the pressures that accompany the thought of “meeting specific expectations.” Throw expectations away unless they are coming from within you and are truly yours not something that was implanted in your subconscious from your early upbringing or enforced as some set of societal standards. If we spend our lives meeting others’ expectations, we will leave this earth not ever recognizing who we really are, what our true inner self is, or reach our purpose as it will remain elusive.
So, for this article I am going to choose to define your purpose as a major calling on your life, in other words, what you feel is one or “the one” main reason for your life…the fulfillment of which will be one of your most rewarding experiences. This also leaves open the fact that throughout your life, “your purpose” to drive you forward and achieve might just change as once you accomplish one, you may feel empowered to take on and have the opportunity to fulfill another and another. Recognize that when you choose your purpose in life to be on a spiritual level, that is something you can pursue forever, notwithstanding all of the accomplishments that may spring forth throughout your life. So, accepting that as your base, then what is it you are going to fully commit to create in order to feel the greatest level of fulfillment?
Start with the introspective search on the things that you just thoroughly love to do or come real easy for you. These are so natural that they come to you without much effort. Some people ignore this because of that exact reason…they are so easy. They somehow feel that nothing is worthwhile unless it is difficult to achieve. Now that is truly a misguided program that you somehow accepted subconsciously as a young person. It is time to challenge it and discard it. So, what is it you love so much you would do it even if you never got paid? What comes relatively easy to you because of your passion to do it? It is not about how long it took for you to develop the skills or if even those skills are not as developed as much as you would like right now, but do they excite you? What are those qualities that you just love expressing? In what ways do you most enjoy expressing them? How or with whom?
Now, think about how best you would like to express all those qualities to create your perceived highest and best results?
If our passion is not clear I found that “The Passion Test” by Chris and Janet Atwood provides a great guide in that discovery process. I have recommended their book to many with some incredible results. It is a process that you undertake by repetitively completing the following sentence: “My life is ideal when I’m__________________________”. Continue to write this and fill in the blank until you have not more answers. From those answers you have given then you narrow it down to five. You can determine their level of importance by just asking when you compare one with the next which one is more important? This will result in #1, at which time you can go back and go through the process again. It is very insightful…but only if you come from a place of totally open honest and vulnerable.
I also suggest you work with two very close friends for whom you have high regard. Discuss your. results and then weigh their opinions against your discovery work…but always remember, this is about YOU. Once you do this discovery, and know your passion, you can start on that trek of putting all your energy into accomplishing just that through which you will live a truly fulfilled life. Without the discovery, it is like being in a sail boat out on a lake without a rudder. If you have never sailed, then you can appreciate the fact that the rudder is exactly what directs the boat no matter the direction of the wind. Without it, your boat (your life) will just be tossed and turned “as the wind blows.”
If you are unsure, this work is invaluable. Enjoy your journey!