Discovering Your Purpose
Let’s talk about your purpose in life.
Feeling uncomfortable? Yeah, me too. After all, we’re only talking about the underlying reason for being that gives your life meaning. No biggie.
Most of us avoid such lofty topics such as life purpose. Running around telling everyone about your God-given life purpose is obnoxious isn’t it? Besides, what makes you so special? Who the hell are you to have a purpose?
Not everyone feels that way of course. Aristotle (you may have heard of him), didn’t see purpose as lofty or divine. He saw it as a responsibility. He posited that we’re here on earth to promote “human flourishing”, both our own, and that of others. To him, flourishing is the highest good, and all actions must aim toward it.
So, from Aristotle’s perspective, the real question is: Who the hell are you to deny your purpose?
Hmm. Maybe we should talk about purpose after all.
Chances are, you’ve already had plenty of times in your life when you were on purpose. Think of the times you were at your absolute best. Think of the times you’ve lost yourself in your work, or you found yourself in flow. That’s purpose.
Your purpose isn’t about anyone but you. It’s the thing that gives meaning to your life, not what others think you should do with your life. And, it doesn’t have to be earth shattering. Some of the most successful, impactful people in the world have purposes that on the surface, are seemingly small.
Check out these humble purposes:
To be happy and make others happy.
The Dalai Lama
To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.
To be a friend to anyone who needs one.
Magali Peysha, co-creator of the Strategic Intervention coaching methodology
I love purpose statement day when working with my 12-Week Transformation clients. They never cease to blow me away with their incredible visions.
To help people see their way.
Combining curiosity and creativity to do extraordinary things.
To be loved and loving.
I always fall a little in love with my clients on purpose statement day, because I get to see a glimpse of the core essence of them.
I’ve thought a lot about my purpose over the years and I’ve come to realize that I’m at my best when I’m creating. I’ve gravitated to creative pursuits my entire career. I started out in marketing where I created brands and campaigns, and then moved into innovation where I created new products, and later, I became an entrepreneur and created a couple of businesses and eventually, I wrote two novels.
Coaching, by the way, is a remarkably creative occupation, which is one of the many reasons I was drawn to it. And it was in coaching training that I arrived at my purpose:
To live a creative life, and to help others do so too.
When you’re clear on your purpose, it’s in you. It’s a part of you. And it affects each and every decision you make, often unconsciously. And, when you take action, you do so from a place of authenticity and vital energy. You will find it easier to take risks. You’ll be more confident setting boundaries. And you’ll be less petty and more generous with others, and their trust in you will grow.
It really is magical.
Now. The notion of writing a purpose statement may feel a bit daunting. And that’s fine. The key is to go easy on yourself. It won’t be perfect right away (or ever for that matter!). So, let yourself off the hook. Do the best you can with what you have and where you are right now in your life. If it evolves over time, good for you. It will be the result of hard-earned self-awareness.
The goal is not perfection.
The goal is exploration.
You’re an explorer. You’re Indiana Jones.
Because the truth is, all this values and purpose stuff is about possibilities. When you’re open to possibilities, you get to live a fully explored life. An expansive life.
Find the clues:
Think about your life. When were the times when you felt aligned with yourself? At what times do you experience flow or become so absorbed in your work, that you lose track of time? Use your gut. You might not be able to articulate exactly what it was that made you feel that you were on purpose and that’s okay. Write your examples quickly, without overthinking them. They may be from your childhood, your career, your personal life, your travels, your education, etc.
For each of your moments, write a few bullet points about the experience.
What did you do?
How did it feel?
Who was there? Or were you alone?
What about the experience gave it value and meaning to you?
What are the key ingredients your examples have in common?
Take a shot at writing a purpose statement. Keep it concise and clear.
Does it give you clarity?
Do you feel a strong connection to it?
Do you have a desire to fulfill it?
Do your interests naturally gravitate toward fulfilling it?
Is it aligned with your core values?
If you answered yes to all of the above, you’re on the right track.
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