Finding purpose in life may be hard, but never impossible.
If you’re like most people, you’ve asked yourself questions like these many times over: What should I do with my life? What’s my purpose? Why am I here? Is this as good as it’s going to get?
These are important questions we’re asking because this is our one chance at life to get it right and figure out why we were placed in this world. No one wants to waste this opportunity. No one sets out to spend their life caught up in the constant search for answers to these questions. Most of us just want to figure it out so we can get on living this great life we’re all capable of living.
Some find their answers early on. I know people who are musicians who knew from the time they began to walk that music moved their soul. Nothing else in life will ever give them the same kind of joy as living out their dream playing music and entertaining others. They just knew, I’m a musician and this gives my life purpose. It makes me feel happy, and it makes other people feel happy.
I know others who knew in middle school that they loved working on mechanical devices. These kids grew up around old cars, tinkering with them, restoring them and watching with pride as those same old cars transformed into working pieces of art that rolled smoothly down the street. They knew that fixing cars was in their blood and nothing on this Earth would make them feel as alive as sticking their head under the roof of a car and working their magic. This brings them joy, and brings others joy when they can fix their problems and get them on their way.
Then there are others who naturally fell into their roles as teachers or coaches because it’s who they are down to the very core of existence. They were born nurturers and light up their classrooms with their passion. They lead students down enriching paths, giving them a leg up in this chaotic world. They derive pleasure and joy from knowing they are helping their students to learn and grow.
There is a pattern here. Do you see it?
When I think of those people in my life who live a life full of purpose, the ones who come to mind are those who put a high degree of value on enriching others. Musicians, mechanics, teachers and coaches all thrive on helping others in their respective capacities. They understand that they were placed here for more than just paying bills and dying. They are here to do something beyond themselves. They know the very fact that because they were born into this world, this world will never be the same without them.
For those who don’t have a clue why they’re here, I wonder if it’s because you are not happy with your job, and you believe purpose should connect to it? To this I ask, what if your purpose existed outside of your working environment? What if career pays the living expenses, and purpose is where true wealth exists? (And I’m not talking monetary wealth).
I think a lot of people confuse their job as their sole place for finding purpose in this world. I do believe we need to find a deeper meaning to the daily work we do. But this is just one layer of purpose. You see, purpose isn’t one single element. It’s not one singular thing we do in life. It’s a culmination of things that build momentum on each other and bring us to higher levels of fulfillment.
I work in marketing at a university. For the most part, I find my position pleasing. I have wonderful access to technology and intelligent people who are on the cutting-edge of their industries. I work in a safe environment that is brimming with energy. I get to have my hands in many different types of projects on any given day. Is it my purpose to market graduate programs to incoming students? Is this the one single thing I do with my life that makes me feel whole?
Not exactly. It’s part of it.
When I’m at work, I focus on serving others through the skills I’ve grown over the years as a marketing professional. When I serve others in any capacity, I feel engaged and purposeful. But, I have other parts of my life that give me purpose. I find purpose through my dog, my spouse, my friends, and the work I do as a novelist by bringing awareness to issues that need attention.
The common thread in finding purpose, and this is just my humble opinion, is finding ways to create meaning and joy for others through our actions. We’re not going to find purpose by sitting home and dumping on ourselves that we don’t have it yet. We’re going to find it by getting our butts off the couch and out of the comfort zone and exploring new actions.
Purpose has many forms, and it changes.
What we find purpose in now we might not in the future because we’ve transformed. This is natural. Free yourself to constantly look for ways to help others, while at the same time embracing change as it comes into your life. You will meet up with purpose when you let go of searching for it. It will find you so long as you are moving forward and taking action on things that feel right and important to you. Maybe it’s signing up for a new activity like dance class, martial arts, gardening, beekeeping, fishing, a college class, or a book club.
Questions to ask yourself as you ponder purpose:
- What can I do with my day that will bring value to someone?
- What activity makes me forget to look up at the clock?
- What is a problem about which I care deeply?
- If I had one year left to live, what would I do with this time?
- What are three things that are most important to me?
- What have been my top five most memorable moments in life?
A bit of truth:
- Until you do something, you have no clue how it will make you feel. You might love it. You might hate it. Or you just might find purpose in it.
- When we find something bigger than ourselves that adds value to those around us, we’ve aligned ourselves with purpose.
- At the core of purpose is the creation of meaning.
- Purpose changes as we evolve and enter different journeys. Don’t fear the change. Fear the stagnation because in staying put, we might just miss our date with destiny.
Purpose happens without force. It is the invisible band that connects us to the root of meaning. These roots extend far and wide, flexible to the diversity of change and flow. We grow mighty in both reach and capacity because we are strengthened by the dynamic nature of our potential. When we are in alignment with purpose, we become that radiant source of possibility for others. As we focus on helping others to grow alongside us, we form an upward pattern of inspiration where new ideas and even greater rewards branch outward, reaching toward the air that gives sustenance. Our gift in return is the pleasure of sharing this sustenance back with the world. For purpose comes to fruition and multiplies in the presence of a selfless devotion to something greater than ourselves.
Now over to you: Do you have a suggestion to finding purpose you can share?