Last week I had one of those ‘aha!’ moments, and as is often the case, it happened in a session with my business coach. (Yes, coaches need coaching too!)
It was this phrase that did it:
“We constantly try and find our purpose. Maybe instead we should CHOOSE our purpose and work towards that.”
What do you think?
Let me explain why this was an important thing for me to hear.
An underpinning principle in personal development is that to become fulfilled, we ‘find’ our purpose. If we honour that discovery when it happens, we will go on to frame everything we do around our purpose and the values it sprung from: the way we are with people, the career we choose, health and lifestyle, where we give our time. It’s how we can go on to live a life that’s meaningful for us. So far so uncontroversial.
But what if you keep looking for your life purpose and can’t find it? Or you think you’ve found it, then something else comes along that feels a better fit?
Whether I’m speaking with women on the Springboard programme, coaching clients or friends, something that pops up time and again is the feeling that so, so many of us haven’t yet ‘found’ our purpose.
I have come to wonder if – (encouraged by bloggers and YouTubers who appear to have the perfect life) – we aren’t tricked into thinking that our life purpose is an actual Thing that is already out there. It’s sending up flares, sounding a klaxon and waving a flag. It’s perfect, shiny and glaringly obvious, and if we haven’t ‘found’ our way to it yet then we’re simply not looking hard enough.
All of which feels uncomfortably like a personal failure.
Complete the following sentence:
“My life’s purpose is….”
Did you do it without missing a beat? And did you get a tingle of excitement from it? Yes? Oh my, that’s a beautiful thing! You’ve found your life purpose and will be doing everything you can to work in harmony with it. (As an aside, you may wish to revisit the above sentence some time to make sure you still get that tingle. If you don’t it could be that your life purpose is shifting. That can happen as we live and grow).
Or did you go “ummmmm…..?” Well, this next bit is for you.
Some of us may reach the end of our lives without ever having pulled that tidy definition out of our heads and hearts. It doesn’t mean our life had no purpose, of course not! Every day we make small decisions and adjustments because our instincts tell us to. That’s our life purpose whispering in our ear. By following our instincts, we’re meeting that as-yet-undefined purpose half way.
What we can do right now is stop looking for our life purpose. Take the pressure off.
Instead, let’s stay curious, noticing how we feel as we go about our daily routines. When do we feel most fulfilled? What makes us proud? When so we feel angry or saddened? What do we look forward to and what do we dread? What comes easily to us?
Over time, we may find those observations settle into a sweet spot where we can sense our own life purpose beginning to define itself. It might be to BE something, to DO something – or both. But we can’t force it. It will come when we’re ready and not a moment sooner.
In the meantime, if we can’t ‘find’ our life purpose calling us through the noise and confusion and sheer survivalist nature of modern life, how about we CHOOSE our purpose and work towards that. For now.
Licensed Springboard and Spring Forward Trainer
Winnthinking People Development
Views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd