Your purpose may be much simpler to identify than you think
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” — Steve Jobs
I don’t think it matters whether we believe that we were born with a purpose or not. I believe we all get to define it ourselves and that the meaning of the word has been distorted to imply a certain action or a tangible effect, when a purpose can really be much more subtle than that.
There is no way that any of us can go through life without having an effect on others. Everything in this world is connected and that includes us and our outside environments which we happen to call our reality. Whatever we think is external to us affects us as much as we affect it by our presence and so we are fulfilling a certain purpose regardless.
It is up to us go through life consciously, living out the purpose we have defined for ourselves, or unconsciously, operating as a body that is living day-to-day based on past memories and old beliefs.
There are many people in the world with ambition but perhaps without a clear sense of purpose. It’s been said that ambition without purpose is like spinning your wheels in the sand. You keep going and going but it always gets you to the same place of more to do and more activity to keep your days busy. At some point it might lead you to feeling like you are never doing enough — a place where I have found myself many times.
This constant activity and ambition can sometimes become a distraction from our desired purpose as it can be our mind’s way of keeping us safe in a predictable environment without taking on the risk of going beyond what we have known, beyond the limits that we confine ourselves to.
Once we re-define many of our daily activities in the context of how they are helping us achieve a long-term vision which aligns with our purpose, the need for external motivation decreases and is replaced with motivation from within. Our WHY becomes the driver for everything we do instead of simply checking of a to-do list.
“Joy does not come from what you do; it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you.” — Eckhart Tolle
No one will ever be able to tell you what your purpose is because whatever it is, it is completely unique to you.
You already know what it is — something you could spend your days doing regardless of the monetary outcomes, something that makes you feel alive. If you had all the money and time in the world, this is what you’d spend the better part of your days doing.
There is a misconception that purpose always has to correlate with a career path or a non-profit mission. For some the purpose is to be the best mother, father, spouse, or friend to someone.
As it relates to the idea of career, it is easy to think of two people in the same job or profession where one’s actions are driven by purpose and arise from a state of kindness and compassion where the other simply goes through the motions. Think back to the last few times you went to a restaurant and your interaction with the waitress who sincerely wanted to provide the best service and brighten your day versus the one who did not want to be there and made it blatantly obvious as she just plopped your plates down on the table. In this example the purpose is not in the act of serving food or drinks itself but rather in the HOW — in the state of being we express when we are doing the action.
If we are just going through the motions in whatever we are doing, not being present, we can never feel truly fulfilled.
Would you rather fail at doing something you love or spend your days wondering what would’ve have happened if you did it?
We might initially have that exciting idea of doing something that expresses our passion and then our fears creep into the foreground as we start to ask ourselves questions like “What if I don’t make enough money to meet my basic needs, to pay rent, to buy bread? What if others won’t like me, what if I don’t live up to their expectations?”
Perhaps it boils down to the comfort of pursuing a path that is socially acceptable, of taking the train that many others are jumping on, knowing that the destination is relatively certain and the trip will be safe. Our ambition pushes us to work hard to stay on that train..but how often do we consider whether it’s the one that will take us to our dream destination?
I believe we set our goals in a way that makes us forget the end reason why we are all doing what we are doing. Although happiness is the one-word answer, we all have different ideas of what the means to us.
In the book “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” by Vishen Lakhiani, he writes of breaking our goals down into three overarching concepts: what experiences we want to have, how we want to grow, and how we want to give back.
“Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul.” — Wayne Dyer
If you have found the purpose in your heart, then the fulfillment of it will be of value to others. When you are of value to others, something will come in exchange for that value because that is how the energy of life flows. You give and you will receive. It has nothing to do with whether you are worthy.
Whatever it is that your soul wants to do is what will end up helping others the most because ultimately it is about the state of being you are coming from — when you do whatever you do with an open heart and with love and compassion, others can’t help but benefit. Your happiness and enthusiasm will always be contagious.
No matter how trivial you think whatever you’re doing is, if you can just bring one smile to another’s life, you have made a difference. The fact that we all have a different calling in life actually improves our species’ ability to survive just as all the cells in our body have different functions — they are all important and if they are not all performing their wide range of functions then the whole can not function at its optimum level.
You are already fulfilling a purpose by being here, but once you become conscious of and define more clearly what that underlying theme of your life is and what you are meant to share with the world, you then allow yourself to express that energy in even more creative and impactful way.
Your life is a message. When you are gone, this will be all that is left — what do you want that message to be?
Get your message out there now…get that idea, that piece of art, that song, that video, that loving touch out there into the world now, even when you don’t think you’re ready. Especially when you don’t think you’re ready, when you think there is a lot more fine-tuning that could be done. If there is more work to be done, you will never know it until you take that initial step.
Just because we are alive in these bodies today doesn’t guarantee we will be here tomorrow. Let the music of your soul be expressed while you are here so that you may know that it has perhaps touched at least one other soul and inspired it to do the same.