Updated: May 13, 2020
Is purpose something that we do? or is it a state of being?
How evaluating your beliefs around purpose can open up a new approach to the question, 'what is my purpose?'.
Recently I have been contemplating the idea of purpose. This is not a unusual topic for me, having spent the majority of the past 10 years on the search answer for the ever ominous question...
“what is my purpose?”.
No matter how I approached it, I could never seem to get a definitive answer. And what was worse, I was critical of myself for this, “how could I not know something that was supposed to be so specific to me?”, “How could I not know my passions and talents?”, “what was wrong with me?”.
I thought if I could just find my answer, my life would be in order, I would know what to do, where I was going and who to be.
That’s some pressure on one question isn’t it!!
That was when I stopped and wondered…What are my beliefs around purpose?
Why do I want this so badly?
What does having a knowing my purpose provide?
My answer: Direction, guidelines for what to do with my life, and a sense of accomplishment, of fulfilling my part of the grand puzzle of life.
I realized that for me, purpose was something that I had to DO.
If I had it, it would magically provide me with the guidance I was seeking and I could make decisions that would lead me in the "right" direction, something that I had felt was missing for so long. And whether it was from my schooling, or family system, or society in general, I had been instilled with a belief that my purpose was my career, my job.
So much so that really the statement I had been trying to be able to answer was…
‘My purpose in life is to survive and I do so by making money doing _____.’
No wonder I have resisted and been unable to find my purpose!
This deeper look and my beliefs of what purpose was opened up my heart to and helped me realize that this was NOT how I wanted my purpose to be defined. My belief was more in line with Parker Palmer who says,
‘Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it. Listen for what it intends to do with you.’
I believe that purpose is more than my survival, money making tool. This might serve the human part of us, but I want to seek the purpose of my soul.
I want to reframe my original question to,
“what is my soul’s purpose?”
And continuing the original line of questioning on the topic…
What does knowing my soul purpose provide me?
My answer is quite different this time: Alignment. Access to the deepest possible joy in my life. Passion and desire. Alignment of my internal longings with how I show up in this world.
Alignment as an outcome feels so different than direction. Direction implies an external pull, and that there is a place I need to get and need to go. Alignment in comparison is internally focused, and implies I am exactly where I need to be.
So, how do I align to my soul’s purpose?
By exploring the world for what feels best inside. For what aligns our inner longing with our outward actions. Or as Palmer puts it, finding…
‘the place where your deepest gladness meets the worlds needs’.
This is really what life is after all!
Exploring, finding the joy within through experience and connection.
Learning who you are, what you love, and trusting and pursing that. Embracing all parts of you as learning markers along the way.
Being who you are in the truest meaning of the word.
Maybe purpose isn't something that we need to find. It’s not something we have to do. Purpose can only be found through being. Being you, finding you, finding joy and following that.
Purpose is not a goal to achieve, it is a calling.
It takes time and experiences to identify, but if you listen to your heart and do the work to uncover your truths and values you can finally hear the call.